Newsletter No 10 (July 1995)

ISSN 0966 999X No. 10 July 1995




The Bodleian has received (as part of total recurrent HEFCE grants of £1,272,774 for special cataloguing and other ‘access’ projects) a grant of £50,183 p.a. for four years for retrospective conversion of Cyrillic catalogue entries 1920 1986/87.
Gregory Walker.

The School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London, has received recurrent grants under the Follett initiative for the employment of an archivist, the cataloguing of books and maps, conservation work and the extension of hours of opening. In 1996/96 these grants total £86,460.
J.E.O. Screen.


The School of Slavonic and East European Studies has just set up an experimental WWW server at the address At the moment it contains only a brief introduction to the School and pointers to the Library catalogue, the University of Pittsburgh REESWEB, the OMRI reports online and the Library of Congress Exhibition of Soviet archives. During the summer we plan to expand its coverage considerably so that it will provide both a wide range of information about the School and a useful British starting point for Internet resources on Russia and Eastern Europe.

I would be grateful if COSEELIS members could try the service and let me know of any problems, comments, or suggestions for additions, especially if you know of material not otherwise available online that could be included on the SSEES server.
Lesley Pitman, SSEES Library.


It is likely (though not yet certain) that the British Library will be recruiting temporary cataloguers for varying periods (maximum eight months) between July 1995 and 31 March 1996. Knowledge of one or more Slavonic and/or other East European language is essential. Library qualifications or cataloguing experience desirable.
Please spread the news and ask anyone interested to send their c.v. to: Dr. C. G. Thomas, Slavonic and East European Collections. The British Library, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. Fax: 0171 412 7554; email:


Would any COSEELIS members who use Library of Congress Subject Headings be willing to share their experience with the Slavonic staff at the British Library? If so, please contact Peter Hellyer. Telephone: 0171 412 7582; email:


I would like to thank all colleagues who responded to my request for information for this survey. Twenty replies were received. The results will be collated to form the basis of a presentation at the Librarians’ Pre Conference at Przegorzaly, Krakow, 2nd 5th August 1995. A summary of the survey findings and the resulting discussion will be reported in this Newsletter later in the year.
Janet Zmroczek.


When I recently moved office, I discovered several spare copies of early issues of Solanus I have two copies of No. 1 (November 1966) and one copy each of No. 3 (July 1968), No. 4 (October 1969) and No. 5 (March 1970). They are in good condition. If anyone would like these, please get in touch .
Ursula Phillips Telephone: 0171 637 4934×4018; email: ursulap@,


The Centre for Economic Reform and Transformation (CERT) at Heriot Watt University, Edinburgh, was set up in 1991 by its director, Professor Paul Hare, to carry out research into economies in transition in the areas of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. The Centre has a small staff of two professors, two research associates, and one administrator/information officer. Despite its small size, CERT is involved in a wide variety of research and consultancy projects supported by the Economic and Social Research Council, the European Community ACE Programme, the International Association for the promotion of cooperation with scientists from the independent states of the former Soviet Union and, over the years, many different international organisations such as the World Bank, OECD and the United Nations as well as national and local government bodies. In addition to these activities, CERT manages the editorial office for the European Bank’s journal the Economics of Transition the editors of which are Professor Paul Hare and Professor Philippe Aghion, European Bank.

To support its research and consultancy work, CERT has established a specialised library of academic working papers, reports from international organisations, banks and statistical institutions and a number of relevant journals, including two in the Hungarian language. Our aim is to provide the type of material which would not normally be found in the University library, not to duplicate any part of its collection hence we rarely purchase books on the subject. Details of material held by CERT are stored on a database called Archivist which although far from ideal, is adequate for the Centre’s needs at the moment. All members of staff and visitors to CERT can access this information from their own computers over the local area network and bibliographies on specific topics can be provided to outside researchers on request.

The collection is widely used within Heriot Watt University by staff, visiting academics, post graduate students and under graduates who have chosen the Eastern European option in their economics course. It is also used by students from other departments such as Languages, Business Organisation and Accountancy and Finance and indeed a variety of others from neighbouring universities. CERT’s many visitors from Eastern Europe, some who visit for short periods, others who spend up to eight months at the Centre, find the library resources contribute to the success of their fellowships enabling them to develop their studies and discover valuable new research contacts.

Owing to the many responsibilities of the administrator/information officer the augmentation and development of the collection is regrettably somewhat ad hoc. Warwick University’s list of new working papers in “Contents of Recent Economic Journals (COREJ)”, the World Bank’s “Transition: the Newsletter about Reforming Economies” and “Dispatch from Berlin” from the Cooperation Bureau for Economic Research on Eastern Europe are all useful sources, but CERT also relies on donations from its many research partners throughout Western and Eastern Europe and elsewhere. Subject coverage of different Central and Eastern European countries necessarily reflects the Centre’s current and past research interests with Hungary, Poland and Russia being particularly well represented and the new independent states of the former Soviet Union gaining ground.

CERT would like to encourage further use of its collection and is delighted to welcome academic researchers, students, members of the business community and others to visit the Centre at Heriot-Watt University. Library resources may be consulted at CERT or borrowed for home use. Study space can usually be arranged for those travelling from further afield and appointments can be made with our researchers to discuss particular research needs.
Deidre Kelliher.
Further information about CERT may be obtained from Deirdre Kelliher,
Administrator/Information Officer, CERT, Heriot Watt University, Riccarton, Edinburgh, EH14 4AS, E, Tel: 0131 451 3486, Fax: 0131 4513498.


The ABDOS conference has in recent years become an annual meeting point not only for Slavonic specialist librarians from Germanic speaking countries (Austria, Switzerland and the Netherlands as well as Germany), but increasingly an opportunity to make contact with library staff from Eastern Europe and the countries of the former USSR. This year, the latter accounted for about thirty out of just under a hundred participants. Many gave brief accounts of the condition and prospects for libraries and the book world in their home countries.

Only a few specifics can be mentioned here, but the impression given by many of these librarians was that they do perceive within the political, social and economic transformations changes in some respects for the better. While some are clearly in difficult, even desperate circumstances, other see scope within their financial and other constraints for more initiative for individual libraries and larger groupings. More particularly they see a growing number of openings for productive cooperation with ‘the West’ (whether libraries, foundations or other entities) in which they can regard themselves, not as mendicants for aid, but as people and institutions with resources, expertise and innovation to offer on their side.

Here are a few news items to give some feel for current activity. The Czech National Library, with the help of a Mellon Foundation grant, has sponsored the indigenous development of digital scanning software for twelve months. They have further digitization projects in hand to deal with records for older publications and mediaeval manuscripts. With the Czech national bibliography available on CD ROM, they will be supplying its data direct to OCLC from June 1995.

The Croatian speaker reported that inflation in his country had fallen to near zero. The new building of the National and University Library in Zagreb is nearly complete.

Asen Georgiev, of the Bulgarian National Library, noted that Bulgarian publishing output had fallen after the overthrow of communist power in 1989, but that the number of titles published had now reached a record level, while average tirazhi were lower. The number of publishers (the majority producing only a few titles per year) had grown from 900 in 1993 to 1500 in 1994. Similar publishing trends were reported from several other East European countries.

It was evident that some German academic and research libraries like those in the UK are having to adjust to reduced funding levels. Franz Goerner, ABDOS chair and head of the East European department of the State Library in Berlin, reported that the library was facing cuts of half a million DM in the present year, with his department having to contribute ten per cent.

One sidelight on the consequences of German reunification emerged from a visit to Leipzig University’s Institut fur Sorbistik. Although state support is being continued for academic work in Sorbian studies and for Sorbian cultural life, it is more limited than in the past. The institute is now the only centre in Germany for the training of Sorbian language teachers, and even so student numbers have fallen from forty to fifteen.

A report on COSEELIS’ activities was received with interest, and several German participants wanted to keep in regular touch with us. Our collaborative work (notably the compilation of union listings and the Birmingham seminar) drew favourable comment, and some suggestions that ABDOS might consider similar initiatives.

As with previous conferences, a full set of preceedings will be published in the series Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin Preussischer Kulturbesitz. Veröffentlichunzen der Osteuropa Abteiluna.
Gregory Walker, Bodleian Library.


In contrast to earlier visits, when I concentrated on meeting exchange partners and attempted to improve and develop our exchange arrangements, this visit put much more emphasis on acquiring material from commercial sources or buying it directly from academic institutions and other organisations. Most time was therefore spent in visiting known outlets, discovering new ones, actually buying the material, listing it for our records and then transporting it to the post office. Apart from visiting well known bookshops such as Dom knigi, Globus, Dom pedagogicheskoi knigi, I also visited newer and more specialised bookshops, to which useful contacts (such as Boris Belenkin, librarian of Memorial) directed me; these included Eidos, Gileia, 19 ogo Oktiabria. These small shops, situated in sidestreets or basements away from the obvious shopping areas, held stock which was very much of interest to us (specialised literary criticism, religion and philosophy, memoirs) and which would have been difficult to find elsewhere. Also, one was able to browse and handle the books without asking in advance, and one paid simply and directly; this in itself was most refreshing! Addresses of these supplied on request.

It also proved possible to buy directly from certain specialised academic institutions. The Institute of Russian History of the Russian Academy of Sciences has a bookshop which is open two days a week and sells the Institute’s own publications as well as works on Russian history by other publishers. It was also possible to visit the publishing section of INION (Institut nauchnoi informatsii po obshchestvennym naukam), also of the Academy of Sciences, and buy their own publications. Most interesting was a visit to the recently established Jewish University in Moscow, where I was able to buy their publications, including their journal Vestnik Evreiskogo universiteta v Moskve. In addition to the latter I was able to build up runs (not always complete, however) sometimes from several sources of recent journals’ which we would not otherwise have been able to acquire; these include Rossiia XXI, Rossiia i sovremennyi mir, Nachala, Logos, Etnopoliticheskii vestnik. I similarly tried to build up runs of literary almanacs such as Russkoe bogatsvo, Novyi literaturnyi vestnik. We could not currently afford to subscribe to these via the regular subscription channels, so it was particularly useful to be able to pick these up very cheaply.

Prices, on the whole, are still very cheap (for us). Books cost anything between 2,O00 and 30,000 roubles (one US dollar = 5,000). Back numbers of periodicals vary between 500 and 10,000. Prices are cheaper in the institutes than they are in commercial bookshops. The most expensive books are those purchased on stalls in the street. However, certain types of material could only be purchased from stalls, such as the books I bought on organised crime (eight books cost a total of 140,000 roubles). Dictionaries and encyclopedias are also expensive and still require customs forms acquired in advance to export. From my own observations I have to conclude that Natasha Kozmenko’s prices are very competetive, whereas the prices charged by Zwemmers, East View, Russian Press Service and MIPP are grossly disproportionate to the prices on the ground.

I spent a day with East View Publications and saw all sides of their operation. Despite their relatively high prices, I have to say this is an impressive enterprise. They have two offices, one dealing with Moscow publications (books now as well as newspapers and journals) near Filevskii Park metro station, and a second, housed in the Knizhnaia Palata, which deals with the rest of the Russian Federation (including St. Petersburg) and other states of the CIS (except Ukraine, which has its own office in Kiev). I was looked after by the Moscow chief Kiril Fesenko, who introduced me to all the section heads; I was given free samples of many new journals, all of which can be supplied by East View. They claim to have agents collecting materials and informing of new titles in every part of the former Soviet Union. They also have a very large share of the microfilming market.

I had a meeting with Galina Zaitseva of the Exchange Dept in the State Public Historical Library with whom we have had a good exchange arrangement over the past few years. I decided to cancel our blanket order for books on Russian history and politics (started three years ago when we had almost no information about new books), as we were now getting a lot of duplicates due to the same titles appearing on commercial lists and us not knowing what SPHL would send. Instead they will only supply their own publications automatically; we will continue to select from their exchange lists, now supplied by email. We both agreed we were generally satisfied with the exchange; neither felt that there was any financial imbalance.

The only other exchange partner I visited (and consider worth visiting) was the Foreign Literature Library. There had been a complete change of staff in the exchange department since my last visit. Now in charge is Liudmila Kalinova; I also met another member of the foreign exchange team Asya Usova. We reviewed our exchange mostly periodical subscriptions rather than books and agreed that there was no great financial imbalance and that we would like to continue these arrangements. They offered to send us lists of exchange material from the Russian provinces; this would be useful as our coverage is weak in these areas. In addition to continuing the regular exchange, they also proposed selling us books: they now have a Midland Bank account in London into which we can pay. Lists will be sent to me via email and we will order what we want, independent of the exchange arrangements for periodicals. They also said we could order from them items which appear in Knizhnoe obozrenie; the Historical Library were unwilling to do this. They returned to me a great pile of our book orders (selected from Novye knigi or publishers’ plans) dating back to 1990 saying they were unable to supply them, mostly because they had never been published. They asked me for Parkers’ address as they too are now buying some books commercially and had found Blackwells’ to be slow and inefficient:

Also in the Foreign Literature Library, I spent a few hours with Aleksandr Gur’evich who looks after the religious section. He showed me round this part of the Library and also gave me a quick tour of the rest. He also gave me useful information on bookshops. He will supply me with monthly lists of books appearing on all aspects of religious affairs in Russian and the CIS. We can order these on exchange, if we wish, though he could not guarantee to be able to supply all titles.
Ursula Phillips, SSEES.

Devana Pavlik, British Library.

Central European University Library
We have had a good relationship with the CEU Library since its beginning and, although we do not actually exchange publications, the CEU has been crucial to our exchange arrangements with Czech libraries. The CEU and its Library in Prague are funded and administered by the Soros Foundation. During my 1992 visit the then librarian Richard Ayres obtained support from the fund and we put together a project through which the CEU Library would help Czech and Slovak libraries by despatching books abroad on their behalf, hence covering the high postal costs. The CEU Library generously stretched their support by paying for parcels sent to other UK Libraries. Without this help our Czech exchanges (Slovak exchange partners decided not to take up the offer) would have collapsed. During my 1994 visit I was therefore keen to meet the CEU’s new librarian, John Miller. John Miller was just as interested in keeping the service going, but explained that the relationship between the Czech government and Soros had deteriorated to such a degree that any special project of this nature is impossible at present.

The National Library
The NL in Prague has been, for a number of years, our largest and most reliable exchange partner. We depend on them for most of our serials including official publications. In addition there is a long standing government cultural agreement according to which we receive from the NL books given in exchange for English books sent to the English Library in Prague by the British Council. I spoke to the head of Acquisitions Dr Blanka Vlasáková who acquainted me with various problems facing the NL in general and their department in particular. Their main worry at present is not so much a lack of funding for accessions as a lack of a decent budget for basic office equipment such as fax machines and computer hardware. I also had a session with Mrs Zdenka Mechurová who had recently been made responsible for the official publications section. Until the division of Czechoslovakia in 1993 the NL dealt also with Slovak official publications but is now unable to continue this service.

The Parliamentary Library
Until very recently the Library was still housed in the Federal Assembly building and was awaiting removal to other premises following the break up of the Federal Republic and the dissolution of the Federal Assembly. The Parliamentary Library goes back to the founding of the Czechoslovak Republic in 1918 and was begun and run for its first twenty one years by one of the great men of

Czech librarianship Zdenek Tobolka; his rules for the library’s subject catalogue are still in use today. The most pressing problem the Library faces is the structure of its collection; one look at the reference section reveals a lack of basic international and foreign national directories, encyclopaedias and dictionaries, though the Library is doing its best to build up its international exchanges and to secure regular supply of needed materials.

Archive Administration (Ministry of the Interior)
This was my first visit to this recently acquired exchange partner. Although the BL’s coverage of published archival materials and guides to Czech and Slovak archival collections very good, there are some gaps resulting from the fact that prior to 1990 this sort of material was often published “for internal use only” and not made available even to a narrow circle of libraries at home let alone abroad. One of the first steps after 1989 was therefore to establish a reliable supply of archival publications. I found the new director, Dr Oldrich Sládek, a willing exchange partner as they are starved of any relevant English materials. He was pleased to secure a reliable source of both out of-print and new publications at affordable prices.

The Library of the Museum of Decorative Arts
My further steps lead to the UMPRUM Library, our old and trusted partner for literature on the arts. I met our main contact, the exchange librarian Dr Milada Sulcová. The Library retains a traditional Czech exchange service, offering a few well selected items, but has always been willing to look on our behalf for specifically requested items.

The National Gallery Library
A partner of some thirty years standing this library has always supplied only their own publications, mostly exhibition catalogues. These used to be published in several numbered series and therefore easy to keep track of. This system has now been abandoned, and so far it has been difficult to get hold of lists of the gallery’s publications.

Libri Prohibiti
This invaluable library of samizdat publications started as the private collection of Jiri Gruntorád, a dissident and political prisoner. After 1990 it was opened to the public and is now housed in no. 2 Senovázné Square. It survives on the meagre funds and dedicated work of its owner and his wife. Our exchanges with Libri Prohibiti concentrate purely on material that they can supply as duplicates from their own stock or, more often, on providing missing parts to fill gaps in our holdings. We, in turn, mostly pass on to them relevant unwanted donations, as they have now extended their interest to include emigré publications and Czech related works in other languages.

The National Museum Library
The NML represents one of the largest and most important historical collections in the country. Our exchange partnership with the NML goes back a long way, but the main topic for discussion during this visit was the tour of Czech curators of historical collections to England that was being organised jointly by our institutions for later in the year. Also at the NML I went to a talk on the project for cataloguing the pre 1801 Czech printed books in non Czech languages. This project started several years ago and is a partly automated undertaking by the Academy of Sciences Library. Apart from learning about the progress of the project it was very useful for me to meet a concentration of Czech colleagues involved in this sphere of activity.

The British Council
At the BC I had an appointment with Dr .Anne Wozencraft, the Deputy Head. We discussed some possible BL/BC projects and I gained the impression that so far, apart from their own library initiative, the BC in Prague had hardly any contact with Czech libraries because they have been mainly concerned with language teaching. Perhaps this was the reason why Dr Wozencraft seemed interested to learn about the BL initiatives in the Czech Republic. She reacted very positively towards applications from Czech librarians who want to come on professional placements to British libraries and emphasized that the two main areas of BC support are library management and cultural heritage; I’m not sure if my visit helped to secure two projects proposed by the BL: one for a professional placement at the BL and at a large public library in London for a young Czech librarian in a managerial position, and the other for a tour of English historical library collections for fifteen Czech librarians.

The Prague City Library
The Prague City Library on Mariánské Square was built in the 1920s and classifies therefore as one of the most modern library buildings in the country. Its Art Deco style is apparent especially in its spacious corridors and the main Reading Room. Our exchange partnership has never been very stable or reliable and seemed to fluctuate according to changing internal politics. The current exchange librarian is Mrs Irena Sormová whom I met for the first time. My aim was to renew the exchange and find out exactly what kind of publications they could supply. They seem fairly flexible but would prefer us to request the most recent titles. The City Library has one of the best music collections in the country, and I was able to select from their display of current music periodicals the most worthwhile new titles for our collection. The City Library also maintains a small branch specializing in Pragensia, which is housed away from the main library in one of the old houses in Mostecká street which starts at the western end of the Charles Bridge. Accommodated in one of the apartments of no. 26 this specialised collection must be one of the city’s best hidden secrets.

The Slavonic Library
We have only recently established an exchange with this library which specializes in Slavonic literature, and it was my first opportunity to meet the head, Milena Klimová, and her colleagues. They were extremely pleased that someone from England had shown an interest in them and would welcome further contacts as they are keen to fill gaps in British Slavonic studies publications of the last forty years.

Commercial book suppliers
Because of the difficulties that Czech and Slovak libraries have had with financing the postal side of their international exchanges, one of my main objectives was to search for other suppliers. I began to explore the commercial market in the Czech and Slovak Republics as early as private suppliers started to appear, but have so far had little success. They either seem to go out of business or are too expensive to be within our budget. My last visit procured for us a new company called Regula Pragensis. Regula has contacts in the academic world and admits researchers to use their collections, which contain many publications now lacking even in university libraries. Amongst Regula’s clientele are several American academic libraries, but we are their first British customer and they seem keen to please us.

As well as finding suppliers for current material I am keen to establish contacts with reliable antiquarian booksellers. My librarian friends introduced me to two new antiquarian booksellers and I also went to see our, so far, only antiquarian supplier the Antikvariát u Karlova Mostu (at the other end of the Charles Bridge to the Pragensia Library). This bookshop is considered to be expensive by Czech standards but it is still reasonable compared with some western prices for early and rare books. They are practically the only bookshop to stock early Czech books; the rest concentrate on items of interest to foreign tourists, their justification being that there is not, at present, such a species as a Czech early book collector as those who would like to collect cannot afford today’s prices and the new millionaires are not interested.

The 4th Historical Libraries Conference at Olomouc
The highlight of my visit was the Conference on Historical Library Collections organized by Dr Václav Pumprla, head of the Early and Rare Collections at the State Library of Olomouc, who was one of the participants of the Czech tour to English historical libraries in September. The conference, now in its fourth year is Dr Pumprla’s brain child and its organisation seems to depend almost entirely on him. The theme of the 1994 conference was the security of early collections. I understood that foreign participants are not excluded but this time every one of the eighty or so present seemed to be from the Czech Republic. Security of library collections is a big headache at present as thefts continue to grow and budgets often do not permit expenditure on sophisticated electronic security systems. Worst hit are collections housed in castles, which serve as outhouse depositories and which have had, up until now, only basic surveillance.

The Study tour of Czech librarians to English historical libraries, September 1994
Fifteen Czech librarians specializing in manuscripts and early and rare printed books came to England in September 1994 on a week’s study tour of English historical libraries. The aim of the trip was not any to see important collections, but mainly to see how things were done in England, to make contacts with English colleagues, and discuss matters of mutual interest. The trip was made possible by a grant from the British Council in Prague and was organised by the Library of the National Museum in Prague. Librarians and conservators from several institutions took part. Participants paid for their transport to England (they came on the regular Prague London bus service) while the grant of £2,400 covered the cost of accommodation and travel in England. Two further, small, grants were made available for food, whilst the Library Association provided its Common Room for an informal evening reception which enabled the visitors to meet English colleagues from various institutions.

The programme of the tour was prepared by an informal group of mostly retired librarians (Jean Plaister, Sheila Wilson, Sylva Simsova Vera Vavrecka) and myself. We tried to encompass a range of libraries collecting and caring for early books and included two general libraries, one cathedral library and two private libraries. The Czech national heritage collections face many problems, some are perennial but many have resulted from the past 1990 changes (i.e. increasing thefts, rising costs, withdrawal of subsidies, extra work with returning of some collections into private ownership etc.) There is a need to learn more about the organisation of work, management and care of heritage collections, fund raising, promotion, preservation, conservation, application of computers and access to collections including reader services and reprography.

Several participants came from institutions that have in their care castle libraries in the Czech Republic and so we were very pleased that Yvonne Lewis, the assistant advisor on libraries to the National Trust, was prepared to meet the group at Blickling Hall in Norfolk, show us the library and explain about security arrangements. Treatment of mould was another much discussed subject as it is an ever present problem in many castle libraries. A special visit was also arranged to Chatsworth House, where matters of care and maintenance were also discussed, as well as services to researchers. A visit to the Canterbury Cathedral library completed the tour of smaller historical collections. As well as seeing and hearing about the library the visitors had an opportunity to discuss computerized cataloguing of early printed books with Sheila Hindley and her colleagues. At the Bodleian Library a general tour of the library was provided together with further sessions with curators of special collections, preservation and cataloguing.

The most hectic day was the one devoted to the British Library in Bloomsbury where, apart from the general tour of reading rooms and book stacks, the visitors went to the Department of Manuscripts, Conservation Studio, Bindery and the Reprographic and Photography workshops. Individual meetings with relevant BL curators were arranged for several specialists. This very busy day was rounded up with the LA reception which enabled the Czechs to meet many more English colleagues than they could have managed on library visits alone. Refreshments were paid for from funds generously provided by the London and Home Counties Branch of the LA. It was here that we began to make plans for a return visit. The Czech librarians are very proud of libraries in their care and keen to show their treasures to their English colleagues. It will now be up to the British rare books specialists to organise a trip to the Czech Republic.

Names, addresses and telephone (fax) numbers supplied on request. Devana Pavlik.

© COSEELIS. Views expressed in this Newsletter are not necessarily those of COSEELIS.

Editor: Ursula Phillips, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London, Senate House, Malet Street, London WCIE 7HU. Tel.: 0171 637 4934 x 4094. Fax: 0171 436 8916.

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