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Annual Report of the Slavic Room for 1958

[This report appears as part of the annual report of the General Reference and Bibliography Division for 1958, on pages 11–15. Ed.]

The continuing emphasis in the work of the Slavic Room, whose primary responsibility is to provide reference services to the bulk of the readers in the Library using both the organized and unprocessed Slavic and East European collections, remains on the custodial and organizational aspects of the collections in its care on Deck 8 of the Annex. Reference and custodial responsibilities have an intangible way of merging into each other. The Deck Attendant must be able to know materials in ways and manners other than the alphabetic signal arrangement used for their shelving, and frequently is called upon to search for specific items identified in a variety of fugitive methods. Organizing materials in these collections is directly oriented to the known use made in the Slavic Room for a large portion, since much of the present unprocessed collection is destined to remain indefinitely on Deck 8 until some future date when it will again be possible to consider it as a cataloging arrearage. The reference staff concerns itself with the proper flow of materials, the processing of microfilms, the processing of special groups of materials, the accuracy of records of use and of loans, to ensure that needed but unavailable materials can be accounted for and can be retrieved for immediate use if the situation is pressing. These are the activities which are described below:

Acquisition of Materials: Unprocessed Slavic and East European serials reach the Slavic Room through normal acquisitions channels after they are recorded in the Serial Record. During the year, approximately 190,000 serial and newspaper pieces were received. All of these were sorted and added to the unbound collections with the exception of those that were considered surplus to its requirements at the time of receipt. The following tabulation shows the developing status of this unbound collection of Slavic and East European serials and newspapers:

Status as of end of Fiscal Year 1956/57127,000 pieces
Received during 1957/58189,324 pieces
Less pieces combined in binding38,343
Less surplus pieces95,314
Less newspapers taken by Serial Division90,000
Net reduction in collection34,222 pieces
Status as of end of Fiscal Year 1957/5892,778 pieces

This result is due in large measure to the concentrated effort to handle current acquisitions as promptly as possible and to process the receipts for optimum service while still in their unbound state. The assistance provided through the funds made available for a Deck Attendant by the Air Information Division was very material in producing this result and needs to be acknowledged.

The Slavic Room reference collection was increased by 750 titles, continuing the pressure on the available shelf space. The Curator examined approximately 18,000 Slavic duplicates in the Processing Department and recommended the addition of 6,900 to the Library's collections. This represents an increase over last year when 13,000 volumes were examined and 4,300 were marked for retention. Also to be noted is the addition of 600 reels of microfilm contrasted with 250 reels during the preceding year.

Organization of Materials and Status of Collection: Considerable progress has been made in organizing a group of serials issued by corporate agencies in the Soviet Union. Including the effort of the preceding year, a total of 4,000 preliminary catalog type entries have been prepared, and the issues for the same titles[s] have been collected and have been given fixed location numbers which are noted on the catalog card. Approximately 10,000 pieces are now organized and are found to be increasingly called for and used under conditions of organized accessibility.

The binding effort has been maintained at as high a pace as was recorded last year with more than 2,000 volumes forwarded to the Bindery. This year, with the availability of a Deck Attendant conversant with the languages and publications of Yugoslavia, the serials of that country have been given attention with the result that some knotty binding problems were disentangled and the materials for this area put in serviceable arrangement. Also, the entire backlog of scattered unbound issues of serials with call numbers — some 2,000 — have been eliminated through binding and other appropriate disposition.

The final note is that the Slavic Room has now reached a point at which all bindable issues of the preceding calendar year are bound or in process of being bound during the first half of the year following.

The program for the next year envisions an attempt to weed the collection of unbound serials for disposal of useless materials, transfer of items better housed in other centers, microfilming of unbindable material, etc. The successful pursuit of this program will generate much needed space and will ultimately permit the organization of Slavic and East European serials and newspapers in one location within the Library instead of the present scattered pattern.

Use of Material: The Slavic and East European collections in the Library of Congress are undoubtedly unparalleled with respect to their concentration in one place and at one time. The current emphasis on Slavic and East European studies requires such collections and is reflected in the continuing increase in use as evidenced by the readers served in the Slavic Room. Increases were noted across the board. Readers numbered 18,300 as compared with approximately 17,000 in the previous year. A total of 17,300 reference questions were recorded as compared with 15,000 the year before. Telephone inquiries reached an all-time high of more than 14,000 in comparison with 10,000 in 1956/57. The largest portion of service to readers, and other inquirers was rendered through the current, unbound collections of serials and newspapers. Translation service has more than doubled with 142 written and 143 oral translations provided to Members and staff of Congress, Government agencies, staff of the Library, and the public.

Over 45,000 volumes and other units were issued to readers and sent out on interlibrary loan as compared with 30,428 during 1956/57. This increase may be attributed very immediately to the improved status of the collection noted above.

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  February 22, 2017
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