Newsletter No 2 (January 1993)

ISSN 0966-999X No. 2 January 1993




The first COSEELIS Annual Conference took place at the University of Bristol on 24‑25 September 1992. The Minutes and the synopses of some papers will appear with the next Newsletter.


One purpose of my visit to Moscow and to St Petersburg, 5-25 October, was to try to improve the supply of books from Russia by visiting libraries (exchange partners) and by investigating new sources of information and supply. (The second was to attend the “Second Conference on the Bibliography of the New Press”. See below.)

The most important result of my negotiations was a new pricing system, proposed by the Historical Library and agreed with some others. They will in future price books in dollars or pounds, according to the following criteria:


Up to 100 pages – $3-$4
Over 100 pages – $5-$12.


Collections (ie sborniki?), monographs – $8-$20
Reference books, dictionaries, encyclopaedias – $25-$40
Art books, albums – $40-$50

In establishing which price to choose from the range, factors such as quality of production, presence of illustrations, size of print-run, will be taken into consideration. For British partners, prices will be in pounds, using the exchange rate £1 = $1.70.

This system, though rough and ready, seems to me to be a practical, sensible and flexible one, which will solve the (temporary?) problem of extreme fluctuations in the value of the rouble.

Christine Thomas, The British Library.

Email Addresses in Eastern Europe

Library of Foreign Literature
(no contact name)

Academy of Sciences, Kiev
Vladimir Vasil’ev

Academy of Sciences, Tallinn
Ms Vaiko Sepper

GPIB (State Public Historical Library) Moscow
Natalia Klimova

Slovanska Knihovna pre Narodni Knihovne v Praze
Milena Klimova slovankn@earn.cvut.cs

Academy of Sciences, Geographical Institute Budapest
Judit Simonfai

Instytut Filozofii I Socjologii PAN
Jan Siek filozof@plearn.bitnet

Polish Academy of Sciences, Math Inst Warsaw
Maria Mostowska impanwar@plearn.bitnet

Biblioteka Glowna Univwersytetu M Kopernika, Torun
(no contact name) umklibr@pltumll.bitnet

University of Warsaw Library
Ewa Wozniak wozniak@plearn.bitnet

Biblioteka Narodowa, Warsaw
Petr Zak bngroma@plearn.bitnet

National and University Library, Ljubljana
Eva Kodric Dacic

Nova Sad, Library, Matica Srpska
Mirjana Stojkovic mira%bms@yubgef51.bitnet

Belgrade, Narodna Biblioteka Srbije
Vesna Injac injac%nbsbg@yubgef51.bitnet

Belgrade, Univerzitetska biblioteka “S Markovic”
Mirela Djokic ubsmirrela@yubgef51.bitnet

International Library Exchanges with Czech and Slovak Libraries

High increases in postage costs in Czechoslovakia over the past two years have forced many libraries to cut down on their international exchanges. The British Library has been investigating the possibilities for support in this area and we have now been able to secure the help of the Library of the Central European University in Prague which is willing to pay the cost of sending Czech and Slovak publications abroad and is setting up a scheme whereby Czech and Slovak institutions can send material to libraries anywhere in Western Europe or the United States via the CEU Library in Prague at no cost to themselves. The scheme is being tested at present and will run initially for two years.

In Britain there are three libraries taking part so far (the BL, Bodleian, SSEES) and anyone wanting to join or receive more details about the scheme should contact either of the following addresses:

Mrs D Pavlik Mr R Ayres
Slavonic and East European Collections Librarian
British Library Central European University
Great Russell Street Taboritska 23
London 130 87 Praha 3
WC1B 3DG PO Box 114
Czech Republic

Sophia CD-ROM

Three academic institutions in Finland (the Institute of Philosophy of the University of Jyväskylä, Kriittinen Korkeakoulu and Snellman College) have published a CD-ROM which contains a number of European-based databases with a strong emphasis on the humanities, including the British (but not the German as advertised) European Bibliography data for 1985-1987 compiled by SSEES Library. The price of the CD-ROM is 7,200 FIM (1,800 US Dollars). The disc is updated annually. If used in a network, the subscriber is required to subscribe to two discs. Enquiries and subscriptions should be sent to:

Dr Henri Broms Mr Kristian Miettinen
Honkatie IA Managing Director
SF-00270 Helsinki Puuskakuja 14
Finland SF-00850 Helsinki

Fax: +358 0 712 611 and +358 0 412 242
Phone: only between 1.00 and 2.00pm CET +358 0 412 242

Items for Disposal

The Royal Institute of International Affairs would like to dispose of the following. Anyone interested should contact Mary Bone, The Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House, 10 St James Square, London, SW1Y 4LE, Tel: 071-957-5700 extension 270.

Pervaya sessiya Verkhovnogo soveta SSSR, 1989, volumes II-XI:
stenograficheskii otchet

Vtoraya sessiya Verkhovnogo soveta SSSR, 1989, volumes I-VIII:
stenograficheskii otchet

Tret’ya sessiya Verkhovnogo soveta SSSR, 1990, volumes I-XVIII
stenograficheskii otchet

Conference on Publishing in the Russian Federation and the CIS: Prospects for the Nineties

On 8 December Christine Thomas of the British Library, Tania Konn of Glasgow University Library and Ursula Phillips of SSEES attended the above conference which was organised by Interforum Publications Ltd and held at the Royal Garden Hotel, Kensington. The session was targeted primarily at UK publishers who already had, or were planning to have, an interest in cooperating with publishers in Russia. The emphasis was therefore on publishing practice, changes in the law as they affect publishing, as well as on the practical economic problems, rather than on bibliographic control. However, as the recipients of the final products (books!) we found the conference very informative especially the sessions on book distribution (such as it exists). We had the opportunity to meet the Russian participants informally between sessions and tried to stress the need for better marketing, especially by the new private and independent publishers. Christine made a plea on behalf of all of us for much more information about new books.

Our general impression was that the Russian side were very willing to speak openly and give personal opinions. They were willing to admit to their problems, inexperience and past errors. They were keen to discuss future cooperation. It remains to be seen, however, whether well-intentioned promises to send us information and establish ways in which we can pay directly (given, for example, such hurdles as a hefty export tax!) will actually materialise.

It was clear that every area of the publishing industry is in a state of flux and that all activities are hampered by inadequate legislation and hence by corruption (such as piracy and sharp practices in the distribution process). There is no equivalent as yet to the Net Book Agreement, so the price of a book (after it has left the publisher’s hands and made its way through any number of intermediaries before it reaches a bookshop or stall) is entirely arbitrary. Mikhail Fedotov (at the time of the conference the Chairman of the Russian Intellectual Property Agency RAIS, which replaced VAAP) gave an interesting lecture on the rights and copyright situation under the new Russian system; he discussed the need to clamp down on piracy and stressed that the new legislation, (currently still at the draft stage) would contain not only strict controls but also the machinery to bring criminals to justice.

Other speakers included Sergei Kondratov, Director of Terra Publishing Centre, Aleksandr Soskin, Editor-in-Chief of Respublika Publishing House, Evgenii Averin, Editor-in-Chief of Knizhnoe Obozrenie, Marat Shishigin, Chairman of the Association of Book Publishers and Professor Richard Layard of the London School of Economics. The sessions were wittily chaired by the Literary Agent Andrew Nurnberg.

Russia is not the only country in the former Soviet bloc where piracy, affecting not only books but also films, videos, computer programmes and music, is rampant and practically unpunished. The following is a pop-song heard recently in Warsaw by the Editor:

Piraci, piraci
Ten zawód Opłaci
To wariaci
Ci demokraci

(Pirates, pirates/this profession pays/They’re madmen/these democrats).

Second Conference on the Bibliography of the New Press (ie Soviet Independent Publications of the Glasnost Period

This was a follow-up to a conference held at St Antony’s College, Oxford, in September 1991. (See Ursula Phillips’ report, SCONUL-ACOSEEM Newsletter No 51, Autumn 1991). At the Oxford conference, an agreement for the creation of an international union catalogue/database was reached between representatives from libraries in the US and Western Europe which have important collections of the new press, and representatives of independent archives in Moscow and St Petersburg which collect and research it. The agreement was that the Western representatives would catalogue the publications and input records. Individual libraries would be responsible for adding their own holdings notes. In October 1991 the Russian representatives founded the Association of Collectors and Researchers of the New Press (as a daughter organisation of the Russian Bibliographical Society), whose members organised the second conference, which was held outside Moscow 11-15 October 1992.

The aim of the conference was to assess progress on the Oxford meeting and to decide if and how the scope of the database and network of contributors should be widened.

It was announced that the first 1,000 records had been keyboarded and, when editing had been completed (at the end of October), would be ready for handing over to Western libraries. Eric Johnson of the Library of Congress examined these records, and Professor Marianna Tax Choldin (University of Illinois) handed over a cheque from the BIRD Committee to pay for the cost of keyboarding them. A project committee was elected to be responsible for fund-raising for keyboarding of the remaining ca 2,000 records and to decide on future management and development of the database. Membership of the committee consists of 4 Russian representatives from the Association (names to be announced later) and 4 Western representatives – Mario Corti (RFE/RL Research Institute), Marianna Tax Choldin (University of Illinois), Helen Kaplan (Bibliotèque de Documentation Internationale Contemporaine) and Christine Thomas (British Library). Committees to be responsible for technical questions and questions of bibliographical description were also appointed. The conference agreed that membership of the network should be widened, both geographically and in order to cover different types of institution. Whereas “Soviet” participation at Oxford had been limited mainly to representatives of unofficial archives, all from Moscow and Leningrad (except for one from Minsk), invitations to the second conference had been sent to colleagues from state libraries and archives (Foreign Literature Library, State Public Historical Library, Russian National Library, Roskomarkhiv, Ministry of the Press, Book Chamber, Russian Parliament Library) and to colleagues from other countries of the former USSR. In fact, of the latter, only representatives from Estonia and Armenia attended, but the Association intends to canvas further, and has applied to the Soros Foundation for a grant to supply PCs and Pro-Cite to institutions in other parts of the former Soviet Union. As for widening access, both to institutions in the former USSR and in the West, Mario Corti spoke of the possibility of mounting the database on a system known as WEBNET, which is conceived as a network specialising in bibliographic and other files relating to Eastern Europe. Plans are afoot to mount ABSEES (American Bibliography for Slavonic and East European Studies), and, possibly, its European counterpart, EBSEES, onto WEBNET (which will operate through the non-commercial network INTERNET). The possibility was also discussed of adding to the database other forms of material, apart from serials – eg, ephemera such as political leaflets, party manifestos, photographs. The practical part of the conference – progress report and plans for the future – was not extensive. Most of the time was devoted to papers providing new information about various aspects of the new press and to centres which collect and research it. Speakers included: Kiril Nemirovich-Danchenko on the Russian new press in Estonia; Aleksandr Posadskov (Novosibirsk) on the military press; Vitaly Grigor’ev on the St Petersburg Independent Library; Dmitrii Brodskii on its Moscow counterpart; Lora Zueva (Moscow) on children’s samizdat; Tatiana Semenova on the collections of the State Public Historical Library; Mikhail Afanas’ev on possible future collecting policies for ephemera; Radislava Tsapiana of the Gumanitarnyi fond im. Pushkina on the literary new press; Aleksandr Kushnir on rock and jazz press; a representative of the Centre of Contemporary Documentation (which is based on the former Central Committee Archive); the deputy director of the American National Library on the new press in Armenia; a representative from the Ministry of the Press. The amount of information was too great to digest, let alone to summarise. The proceedings were taped and will be published in 1993 (the Oxford proceedings in No 1 of the journal of the Russian Bibliographical Society, and the Moscow proceedings in No 2).

It was proposed that a third conference be held in May 1993 in Estonia. The Russian Bibliographical Society also has plans for a conference of more general interest – on acquisitions, book supply, bibliography etc, aimed at researchers and libraries – tentatively planned for September 1993.

Christine Thomas, The British Library

Notes and Observations from a Visit to Poland, 12-21 October

My first impressions were gleaned from looking at bookshops in central Warsaw. Prices still range dramatically from 15,000 zl for an ‘old style’ Miłosz paperback, 30,000 zł for a very slim paperback biographical dictionary of Polish landowners. (£1, by the way, now equals approximately 23,000 zł.) As expected there was a high proportion of reprints and translations. Główna Księgarnia Naukowa im B Prusa (Krakowskie Przedmieście, 7) has a relatively wide selection of current academic as well as more popular literature. It is also useful for its display of some of the more important literary and historical journals. In one bookshop I saw a real sign of the times: Pawlikowska-Jasnorzewska’s Królowa burz wiosennych on handmade apricot-coloured paper, bound in silk and scented with lilies! (Price: 1,000.000 zł.)

Polska Izba Ksiązki (Book Chamber) and the Publishers PWN

I had a useful meeting with Marian Piechowski (PWN Sales and Distribution Coordinator) and Grzegorz Boguta (PWN Director and Chairman of the Polish Book Chamber).

PWN remain happy to sell their current publications direct to the British Library at very reasonable prices. Pre-1990 titles, however, are only available in second-hand bookshops as all warehouse stocks have been pulped.

The Book Chamber is making efforts to demonstrate to publishers the need to publicise and market books by supplying bibliographical information about them.

International Publishing Service (IPS) – Grzegorz Majerowicz (ul Piekna 31/37, 00-677 Warszawa, Tel: 21-72-55, Fax: 628-60-89)

IPS was originally set up to import scientific and technical publications from UK, USA, Germany and market them in Poland. Majerowicz said that the BL could place orders for books and periodicals on a trial basis. He imports periodicals from the former Soviet Union for many Polish Institutions and is able to supply a price list on disk. Majerowicz is also Deputy Chairman of the Book Chamber.

Notes wydawniczy

Published jointly by IPS and Ex libris, this is the best source of current information about new books to emerge recently. It is published monthly. Bibliographic data is supplied by publishers, who do not pay for its inclusion. It is hoped to make the information accessible in an automated form.

Ksiegarnia Lexicon – Maciej Woliński (00-950 Warszawa, Skr poczt 957, Tel: 49-98-38, 22‑70-37, Fax: 46-17-44)

This was probably my greatest find. I had already ordered a number of items from his catalogue but found that he could offer a much broader service. He has contacts throughout Poland and travels extensively, thus ensuring that his coverage is wide and includes small print-run titles from academic centres outside Warsaw. Prices are in dollars and are quite reasonable when one bears in mind the labour-intensive nature of gathering bibliographic information. He has offered to supply other materials not in his catalogue to order, including periodical subscriptions.

Biblioteka Narodowa

I met the acting Director Andrzej Kłossowski, who is anxious to develop relations with institutions abroad and was enthusiastic about my idea of arranging an exchange of staff with the BN and a UK library.

I had several meetings with Zofia Indeka and Petr Żak regarding exchanges. BN says it is too early for them to start considering alternatives to exchange as a major means of acquisition. They rely heavily on partners for acquisitions (up to 90% of periodicals are acquired by exchange). High postal rates are a serious problem and result in the need to keep the zł-£ exchange rate fairly low. BN still receives 5 copies according to copyright law but a high proportion of material for exchanges has to be bought in.

Lack of an organised, centralised distribution network means that acquiring material for exchange partners is extremely labour-intensive, as are periodical subscriptions where it is often necessary to write to each periodical separately. When the new copyright law comes into force (next year?) the BN will probably receive only 2 copies. Nobody was really willing/able to say what percentage of the total publishing output is currently ‘caught’ by Przewodnik Bibliograficzny though I heard guesses around 70%. This is a period when copyright law is openly flouted by some publishers.

The weekly Przewodnik Bibliograficzny is now available on a floppy disk. (For details see back page of PB hard copy). It should be possible soon to acquire data on disk for 1986-91. Data can be sent electronically using the EARN network. I was assured that it is necessary to buy the MAK software in order to use the data (price 12 million zl).

Warsaw University Library (BUW)

BUW had a new Director since 1 October, Heinrich Hollander. They have signed contracts to automate with VTLS/Hewlett Packard and will presumably therefore introduce USMARC.

Dr Kamiński, Head of Acquisitions, informed me that as of January 1993 BUW will use the exchange rate of 5,000 zł=£1 (still very low). I met Mrs Sztaudynger who is responsible for exchanges with the UK and Ewa Wożniak who manages the exchanges with the USA. There are problems regarding the relationship between the central BUW and certain institutes. Sometimes BUW is unaware of the existence of certain UW publications until they see them on sale from commercial booksellers. Since the beginning of 1992 we have been receiving from BUW monthly lists of items not appearing in Książki w druku or Zapowiedzi Wydawnicze. I was told that BUW is going to cooperate with the publishers of Notes Wydawnicze, probably from January 1993. This should make the bibliographic listings more comprehensive.

Biblioteka Jagiellońska, Kraków

My visit was brief and only to the Acquisitions Department. I met Teresa Malik, Anna Pycowa, Jadwiga Lechowska and Halina Stachowska. They stressed their continued dependence on exchanges. BJ still feels quite out of touch with library developments elsewhere in Europe and would welcome advice and information on professional matters such as cataloguing standards, ISBDs etc as well as information about new reference works. I have heard since my visit that they too are to automate using VTLS/Hewlett Packard which will surely help them out of their current isolation.

We are receiving less material from the BJ than before presumably due to financial problems. They are useful for subscriptions to the new Krakow periodicals such as Arka, Brulion etc.


All in all my trip was less depressing than I had anticipated. Although all libraries are suffering from financial difficulties as well as the legacy of a tired and complacent workforce, I found almost everywhere a core of younger, more dynamic and enthusiastic staff who leave one hopeful for the future. I was impressed by their knowledge of and commitment to the development of networking, which if properly supported, can clearly help them to join the world information community. I was also impressed by the professionalism of the two new commercial suppliers, Lexicon and IPS, and intend to start working with them more closely for a trial period.

Janet Zmroczek, The British Library.

I intend to publish in the next Newsletter a list of email addresses of members of COSEELIS. If you would like to be included, please send in your address. Thanks UP.

Editor U Phillips, School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London, Senate House, WC1E 7HU, Tel: 071-637-4934 extension 4094.

© COSEELIS 1993. Views expressed in this Newsletter are not necessarily those of COSEELIS.