Newsletter No 6 (February 1994)

ISSN 0966-999X No. 6 February 1994




The conference will take place at Queen’s University Belfast on 22nd and 23rd September. These dates have now been confirmed as definite. The conference organiser Michael Smallman will shortly be writing to all COSEELIS members with more details. The conference sessions will take place in Queen’s University main building. Accommodation will either be (depending on the number of members participating) in the Senior Common Room, where there are about 28 rooms, or in private bed and breakfast accommodation nearby. (The latter is the usual board enjoyed by visiting academics, the halls of residence being located some distance away).

So far two local academic speakers have agreed to give papers at the conference: Chris Skillen (Politics) and Justin Docherty (Russian literature). Any COSEELIS members interested in giving a paper should contact Michael Smallman: as yet there are no ‘library’ speakers. In the absence of sufficient speakers, an outside visit could be arranged; a possibility would be the famous Linen Hall Library, which was partly destroyed by a firebomb last Christmas, though its excellent collection on Irish history was undamaged.

In addition we thought a further session of discussion or a workshop on our continuing acquisitions problems would be appropriate. Following Ron Hogg’s paper at the Manchester conference and all our various experiences, an update might be very useful.

Any offers of papers or other queries should be directed to Michael Smallman, Main Library, Queen’s University of Belfast, University Square, Belfast, Northern Ireland BT7 1LS. Tel: 0232-245133. Email:


The International Group of the Library Association will be holding a residential conference in Oxford entitled Emerging Democracies and Freedom of Information. The conference will take place from 2nd to 4th September at Somerville College. The key-note speech will be given by Russell Bowden. Deputy Chief Executive of the Library Association, and possibly by a speaker from PEN so that a general and then a more specific view might be presented. The other speakers fall into three geographical areas:

1. The ex-Soviet Union/Eastern Europe
Runnalls Davis (British Council) on Poland.
Inese Smith (Loughborough University of Technology, Dept of Library and Information Studies: IGLA members) on Latvia
Isa Zymberi (Republic of Kosovo London representative) on Albania
Vladimir V Spiridanov (UK representative of Mezhkniga) on Russia, with special reference to the book and periodicals markets
Dr Valentin Vydrin (Chairman of Russian Minority Rights Group) and Dr Valentina Uzunova (also of Russian Minority Rights Groups) on ethnic communities in Estonia
Dr Naim Turfan (Lecturer at School of Oriental and African Studies) on Islam and democracy
2. Africa
Shiraz Durrani (Hackney Public Libraries) on Kenya and East Africa
Chris Merritt (a South African librarian) on South Africa
Dr Haddis Gebre-Meskel (former postgraduate of School of Oriental and African Studies) on Eritrea/Ethiopia
Gboyega Banjo on Nigeria
3. China/Hong Kong
Either Dr Philip Baker (lecturer in law) or Bing Sum Lao (a librarian) on the Republic of China Colin Storey (Hong Kong Polytechnic, Systems Librarian; President of the Hong Kong Library Association 1990-92) on Hong Kong.

There will probably be other speakers not yet confirmed. It is hoped that the papers will be published, possibly in a longer form than the spoken papers; it has not yet been decided how much time should be allocated to each speaker (most likely 30 minutes). A conference dinner and evening entertainments (music and/or poetry readings?) are also being arranged.

More details may be obtained from Philip Thomas, 25 Bromfield Gardens, Westfield Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2XD. Tel. or Fax. 021-454-0935 (24 hours).


Having received an unexpected end-of-year windfall, I have ordered the entire collection for the British Library. Chadwyck Healey’s latest timetable is as follows: already published – Axelrod, Martov, Molotov and Zasulich; Zhdanov probably in late February; Trotsky in May; Kirov in June; Kalinin and Ordzhnikidze in late 1994.

I phoned some of you (Cambridge University Library, Bodleian, CREES, Essex, Glasgow, SSEES and BLPES) to find out who else was thinking of buying it. The following are intending to buy parts: Bodleian (not yet decided which parts); CREES (Axelrod, Martov, Zasulich, and possibly Trotsky next year); Glasgow (Zasulich, Trotsky, and probably some others).
Chris Thomas


The following is a summary of an article, or rather series of short articles, which appear in Novye knigi 1993/18. I include it here because, due to the abysmal supply of Novye knigi during 1993, I have only recently read it myself and thought other COSEELIS members who have not seen it might find it interesting. I have to say the thing that impressed me most about the piece was its style; both its terminology and aspirations seemed depressingly Soviet, as though there was a great nostalgia among leaders of the book-trade for the security of pan-Union organisations and controls! The general feeling about the new free market conditions and their consequences appeared overwhelmingly negative. Ed.

International* Congress in Defence of the Book
(*’International’ here refers only to the countries of the CIS)

A conference was held last summer in Moscow to examine the problems of book production and distribution in Russia and the other countries of the CIS. The main purpose of the conference was to discuss ways in which the dire state of the book trade might be rectified, since its future is seriously threatened. Various leading associations representing distributors, publishers, printers, writers and book lovers participated, both from the state and the private sector. The President of the organising committee, academician I. V Petrianov-Sokolov pointed out that, ‘The book trade today is in danger, and without the book there will be no future; the rebirth and well-being of the state, the progress of future generations, is unthinkable without it.’

The current situation was analysed by academician E. P. Chelyshev in his lecture ‘A word in defence of the book.’ During the previous year and a half, because of the chaos created by the new free market conditions, the level of book production had fallen to pre-war levels. In 1992 the number of books published in Russia fell to 300 million, which was the total in the early 1930’s. The number of books sold for export had reduced fourfold. He blamed the commercialisation of the market, its flooding with detective stories, erotica, poor translation and reprints. Serious literature was suffering. In 1990 the publishing house Sovetskii pisatel’ (now called Sovremennyi pisatel’) published 380 contemporary Russian authors. In 1993 the number had fallen to 80. Meanwhile the steep rise in the price of books means that books are less accessible to readers. He feared that, if the state did not give active support to the book industry, Russia would find itself on the sidelines of world culture. Sociologists have shown that in 1992 almost half of the Russian population did not read a single book. (I wonder how this would compare with statistics for Britain…? Ed.) He called on the Russian president and government, and those of the other states of the CIS, to work out a programme to give active support to book publishers and distributors. A statement of state policy was required, the basis of which should be the creation of a special mechanism which would combine the benefits of the free market with state regulation. He particularly emphasised the need to free the book trade of VAT and of tariffs on the export of books.

In reply the Minister of Press and Information M A Fedotov stated that the Ministry was fully aware of the problems and concerns of the industry. He emphasised that publishers and distributors needed to be protected by the law. He spoke of the Special Federal programme being worked on by the Ministry, which was designed to protect the most important types of literature. The government was open to discussion of the tax policy. Government grants, however, would be given in the first place to libraries, schools and polytechnics (vuz) rather than to the book industry. Concern was also expressed about cooperation with other countries in the CIS: the government envisages concluding an agreement with these countries and discussing the subject in the CIS Soviet. There was support from many conference delegates for maintaining ‘a single cultural space in the field of book.’

As far as distribution is concerned, a need was expressed for stabilization both with regard to the wholesale and to the retail trade, and for remembering that bookshops were not merely commercial, but cultural institutions. It was important to maintain outlets and specialised staff. There was also a desire to maintain an experienced central organ such as Soiuzkniga, which could coordinate all branches of the book industry and ensure books were properly distributed to meet orders.

In conclusion, the Congress decided to turn its organising committee into a standing National Committee for the Defence of the Book, to come up with concrete proposals based on the findings of the Congress and present them to the government and parliament of the Russian Federation and of the countries of the CIS.

Appeal of the International Congress for the Defence of the Book
This document describes the Congress’s concerns about the decline in book production and the book trade, and speaks of the ‘catastrophic situation’ especially with regard to the publishing of academic literature and textbooks. It emphasises that the health of the book industry is closely bound up with the establishment of democracy, that it is important for the personal development of individuals as well as of society. The document further claims that these principles should be embodied in legislation and calls upon the heads of government to adopt special Resolutions clarifying government policy towards the book business. Again emphasis is put on relieving the industry of VAT and prohibitive export tariffs. The document also calls on all people involved with books to be active in halting ‘the deformation of culture’, and believes that the current generation has a special responsibility to preserve its national heritage. Finally it calls for the creation of National Book Committees which would combine the expertise of state, professional and social organisations.

The Special Federal programme for book publishing in Russia 1993-1995
By M Kuznetsov. Head of Publishing and State Programmes of the Ministry of Press and Information.
(This originally appeared in the journal Knizhnoe delo)

In the summer of last year (ie 1992?) the board of the Ministry of Press and Information adopted a resolution concerning the Special Federal programme for book publishing in Russia for the years 1993-1995. The resolution divides literature into various categories: children’s, reference books and encyclopaedias, academic and professional training, belles-lettres, literature in the languages of the peoples of the Russian Federation, official publications and art books.

About 200 publishing organisations, state and private, sent in their proposals. These were examined by the specialists from the Ministry and then by a commission consisting of publishers, academics and representatives of social organisations and a working draft was arrived at.

The tasks of the Federal programme reflect the necessity of including book publishing within the structure of the market economy and of securing, in doing so, state interests. The tasks were formulated as follows:

– the guarantee of book supplies for state needs
– assistance to publishers to produce books of social significance
– development of priority categories of literature
– securing the cooperation of all participants in carrying out the Programme (publishing houses, printing enterprises, the book trade)
– the encouragement of independent publishers, printers and trade structures to publish literature of social significance.

Contracts issued in accordance with this first Federal Programme will be offered on the basis of competition: any publishing house can take part regardless of how it is financed. State contracts for the production of books for state needs will be issued according to the competition results. This new form of supplying by contract highlights the need for a fundamental review of the structures enabling cooperation between the state and commercial producers.

Interview with Alevtina Zvonova, Director of the publishers Finsansy i statistika
(Also originally published in Knizhnoe delo)
The interview basically makes the point that this well-established firm has managed to survive the crisis thanks to its long experience, to a pool of good academic writers and to the fact that much of what they publish is very relevant to the changing economic climate. Translations of western textbooks on accountancy, for example, have a ready-made market.

Several pages of statistics then follow, which support in greater detail some of the points made in the above articles about the general decline in output and about the shift in emphasis in the type of material being published. One of the charts gives relative price of books in different subject areas. Figures relate to the first and second quarters of 1993. (I can provide a photocopy of these, if anyone is interested).
Ursula Phillips.

Chris Thomas, British Library

Moscow University Library. I spoke to the Chief of the International Book Exchange Dept and to Vera Nikanorova who runs the British exchanges. They supply only their own publications, and despite the great increase in postal costs they are still managing to supply us with most of the publications we need, even those published in very short print-runs; the exceptions are books ‘printed at the expense of the author’, though these can sometimes be obtained through personal connections. They agreed to adopt the new system of pricing monographs in dollars according to the criteria now agreed with most other Russian exchange partners (see COSEELIS Newsletter, no.2 Ed). They will charge for any serials in line with the Mezhkniga catalogue official export prices. They emphasised how much they need the publications we send them, especially The World of Learning; they pass on earlier editions to other libraries in the Moscow University library network.
Tel. 203 7196

State Public Historical Library. I spoke to Galina Zaitseva (Chief of the International Book Exchange Dept) and to Mikhail Dmitrievich Afanas’ev (Director of the Library and President of the Russian Library Association).
Exchange Department The Historical Library is one of our most efficient exchange partners and one of the few able to supply provincial publications. We have a blanket order for the provincial publications which appear on their lists of offers, but since the supply of provincial publications to the centre is becoming more and more erratic, they will now only put titles on their lists once they have received the books (whereas in the past they would include any title they expected to get under compulsory deposit). The supply of all books from the Russian Book Chamber has recently become so bad that the Library have only been receiving half the books cited in their exchange lists. The new system will mean that the lists will appear less frequently, but that everything on them should be available. Because of the desperate lack of information about new publications, we are extending our blanket order to cover all the small print-runs published by Moscow academic institutes. They are happy for us to order books on history cited in Knizhnoe obozrenie and other sources, although they often experience difficulty in tracking down suppliers; on the other hand our orders sometimes draw their attention to publications important for their own collections, but of which they themselves were unaware. Meanwhile they will continue to inform us of new journal titles and to notify us when journals cease publications. Many of the journals supplied by them have ceased publication after a few issues (both Gorizont and Russkii rubezh, for example, have ceased publication).

Meeting with the Director Afanas’ev had just returned from a conference on automation at Tula and was about to leave for discussions in Germany concerning the restitution of books taken to Russia during the Second World War – a matter about which there is much disagreement amongst leading Russian libraries.

He reported that the Tula conference had been well attended by librarians from all over Russia; the fact that libraries were at such different stages of development, however, and were using such different systems hindered coherent discussion. The librarians had also touched on the fraught question of acquisitions, notably on the lack of available information about what is being published. Libraries in Moscow often do not know what is being published in St Petersburg and vice versa, not to mention the provinces; they also experience considerable difficulty in obtaining material even when they know of its existence. Afanas’ev returned with a suitcase full of books published in Tula, including copies both for the Historical Library and for exchange partners. It was decided at Tula that a follow-up conference on acquisitions should be held in Riazan in February 1994 to discuss practical ways in which libraries in different cities could exchange information about new publications; an e-mail network had been suggested.
Tel. 925 6523 (Exchange Dept)
925 6514 (Director’s Office)

Ursus. Afanas’ev also gave me the catalogue of a new Russian book selling outlet called Ursus, which contains some good material. NB Ursus is not connected in any way with the Historical Library; the e-mail address given on the catalogue should not be used for ordering books. (Cambridge University Library have started to order some books from them. Address: Dr Gennadii Yakimov, 129010 Moscow, B Spasskaia 33-84. Fax 095 279 5408. They do respond to faxes. As far as we are aware they only offer books and do not arrange journal or newspaper subscriptions. Ed)

M L Rudomino State Library for Foreign Literature. I visited Liudmila Kalinova (new Head of the International Book Exchange Dept) and the new referant, who deals with British exchanges. Both seemed very keen and efficient. We agreed that they should continue to price monographs in dollars in accordance with the guidelines agreed last year and that, for ease of calculation, we would say that £1=$1.50. They emphasised how the parcels of West European duplicates, which we had sent them, had proved effective in bartering with provincial libraries for difficult-to-obtain provincial publications both for themselves and for us. They now buy some material for exchange partners on spec. They are also intending to start sending exchange offers by e-mail, a few titles at a time. I also saw Katia Genieva (now promoted from Acting Director to Director, following the resignation of Professor Ivanov), her assistant Zhenia Rossinskaia and the Deputy General Galia Kislovskaia. We discussed the selection process for the study trip/work experience visits for East European librarians to the British Library planned for 1994 onwards (12 places over three years funded by the Soros Foundation). The Foreign Literature Library has kindly agreed to publicise the scheme in Russia and to set up an interviewing panel.
Tel. 297 8713 (Exchange Dept)
227 8852 (Director’s Office)

Russian State Library. Here I visited only the International Book Exchange Dept, which has yet another change of head – now Tatiana Afanas’eva. We discussed what kind of material they could and could not supply. Unlike other libraries (eg the Historical Library and the Foreign Literature Library) they have absolutely no possibility of purchasing material for exchange partners and are dependent on publisher’s depositing their publications. They gave me a list of 78 publishers who do still intend to deposit with them – all former state publishers. They promised to send lists of legal and government publications which they can supply. They are obviously having a hard time getting stuff for themselves and for exchange partners. They have been encouraged, however, by a recent UNESCO initiative ‘for the rehabilitation of the Russian State Library.’ An international commission of experts, consisting mainly of representatives of West European national libraries, including the British Library, has been appointed to look at and make recommendations on the library’s problems – buildings, collections, management; the first meeting was due to take place in Moscow in January 1994.
Tel. 202 0490

Library of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts. I saw Irina Zelenova of the International Book Exchange Dept. Things seem to be improving here, since the Museum’s Director is good at obtaining funds; they are able to purchase material both for themselves and for us and are able to afford the postage, even for heavy art books. They said it is now pointless to use publishers’ plans as selection tools as they bear little relation to what is actually published. Also, quite a number of interesting art books are now being produced by new publishers which are not widely advertised. We agreed that they would select art books with a Moscow imprint on our behalf.
Tel. 203 3208

St Petersburg Libraries. The Hermitage Library. Generally speaking the library is flourishing thanks to the interest taken by the new Director of the Hermitage, Piotrovskii. The Exchange Dept headed by Anna Markushina, however, has had a terrible year. Effectively since February 1993 they have been unable to send anything to exchange partners or to claim parcels sent by exchange partners because of draconian action taken by the St Petersburg customs authorities, who have been insisting on levying huge taxes and export and import duties on books, which the Hermitage could not pay. Furthermore they had been asked by their administration not to tell exchange partners about this. (This may also explain why supply of some St Petersburg newspapers and journals mysteriously dried up during 1993. Ed) It is hoped that the customs authorities will take heed of Yeltsin’s decree of 12 November 1993 On Additional Measures of State Support for Culture and Art in Russia, which exempts from 1st January state libraries and museums from VAT on printed material received on exchange, and from customs duties on printed material sent abroad for exchange. (Curiously there have been no problems with books exported from Moscow).
Tel. 219 8621

Russian National Library. I visited the International Book Exchange Dept (Aleksei Pavlovich Romanov and Katia, who deals with British exchanges). They admitted they had also had problems with the customs and had been unable to send parcels for most of the year. They have similar problems to the Russian State Library regarding lack of observance of legal deposit. In an attempt to improve the situation they had produced a leaflet for distribution among publishers, reminding them of their legal obligations and emphasising how depositing their books ensures that they will be accessible to present and future readers – both in libraries and as recorded in the national bibliography. They said that there was now no point in using the bibkollektor and, in the absence of any centralised structure, their own acquisitions staff do the rounds of bookshops, acquiring copies for exchange partners at the same time. They said there is now a St Petersburg equivalent of the Moscow Olimpiiskii stadion wholesale book market, which is near Elizarovskaia metro station.

Given the incompleteness of information about what is being published, we agreed that as a temporary arrangement they would select monographs for us – all St Petersburg imprints in all humanities and social science subjects (excepting art books and Nauka imprints). They are able to subscribe to serials on our behalf, although they have to pay enormous packing charges. They believe, however, that fewer and fewer periodical titles will be available via exchange as more and more publishers insist on selling abroad for hard currency. Novyii mir and Zvezda, for example, are only available through designated foreign distributors. They are uncertain about how to charge for serials, as they have no access to Mezhkniga catalogues.
Tel. 310 8173

Academy of Sciences Library (BAN). I met Nina Vedernikova, in charge of British exchanges, and Deputy Director Elena Ivanovna Zagorskaia. They were experiencing the same problems with customs; their premises are piled high with parcels of 1992 books waiting to be sent to exchange partners. Otherwise, things appear to be fine; they can still supply Nauka imprints and publications of the Academy institutes, though recent parcels suggest the latter are in short supply. They have at last agreed to price their books in dollars according to the guidelines agreed with other exchange partners last year.
Tel. 218 4492

Other meetings. British Council. I met Mark Evans, Director of the British Council office. He said that the Council’s main thrusts at present are English language and management. He admitted that libraries were not at the top of his agenda, but this does not mean that library initiatives would not be considered.
Tel. 227 0110

Dr Pozdeeva, Moscow University. Dr Pozdeeva is continuing her work on early printed books and Old Believers. Her colleagues have produced software capable of dealing with Church Slavonic and with graphics which can reproduce inscriptions, so her work is now geared towards building up a database. She is keen that the World Congress in Warsaw should be a platform for proposing a world database of Church Slavonic imprints.
Tel. 203 3747

Anatoly Petrik, co-president of the Russian Bibliographical Society Anatoly had just received the signal’nyi ekzempliar of the Society’s first publication – a supplementary volume to Literaturnokhudozhestvennye al’manakhi i sborniki: bibliograficheskii ukazatel’ (Moscow, 1957-60). The Society hopes to publish soon the first issue of its journal, as well as the proceedings of the Oxford samizdat conference (See report of the conference in SCONUL-ACOSEEM Newsletter, no 51, Ed)
Tel. 290 2902

Bookshops, booksellers etc. Many people in Moscow were full of praise for a small book shop which specialises in high-quality literature, mostly produced by new publishers. It is situated on Kazach’ii pereulok, near the metro station Polianka. Follow signs through the underground crossing to the Molodaia gvardiia book shop, but when you emerge from underground walk past Molodaia gvardiia and on the opposite side of the road you will see a narrow alley leading into a courtyard: the new book shop is a wooden building in the courtyard.

Also of interest is the book shop Gileia (on Znamenka, formerly ul. Frunze), which specialises in avant-garde. It is on the right-hand side of the road as you come from the direction of the Kremlin, just past the Institut gosudarstva i prava and set back in a courtyard.

East View Publications, Moscow Office. I have been invited by James Beale, East View’s director of serials, to visit their Moscow offices. I went to their newest and largest office, a whole floor of a former school near the metro station Filevskii park, which houses their Russian periodicals department, the monographs department, some microfilming, and keyboarding of records into the EVP database. They have been inputting monograph records since April 1993; all records passed to them by the Book Chamber are included, plus those done from material which passes through their hands directly. I was shown round by Sergei Baichurin, Executive Director in Moscow. There were about 12 people working on the premises whilst I was there; I was impressed by their keenness – quite a number are former librarians. In fact, I was altogether impressed.
Tel. 144 0054

Conclusions My feeling, after visiting the libraries (and despite frequent disagreements about the balance of our exchange accounts with them), was that exchanges have not yet outlived their usefulness, especially in libraries where the staff are flexible and willing to find new ways of doing things. In cases where the staff have good judgement and are very familiar with our needs, I decided that blanket orders (something that the British Library has never done) are a good temporary measure whilst there is such a dearth of information about what is being published. I also got the impression that in some ways libraries in the West, which have good sources of supply in various parts of Russia as well as access to the services of Western booksellers, are probably building up more complete collections of Russian material than some of the large Russian libraries.


The British Library Humanities and Social Sciences Polish Collection has recently acquired five new books from the Lodz fine printers Correspondance des Arts. This is a small press run by Jadwiga and Janusz Tryzno and specialising in artists’ books, which began work in the unpromising conditions of the political and economic crisis of 1980. Artists from Poland and abroad, from both East and West, are invited to participate in producing books which, to quote the founders, are not simply ‘a matter of juxtaposing text and image or decorating the text with beautiful illustrations. Our aim is to produce a book in which image and word constitute an integral whole – a work of art.’ The books, including the bindings, are hand made. To date they have produced 15 titles, of which the British Library holds all but one. Dr Swiderska arranged a successful exhibition of their work at the British Library in 1986. Writers whose work has been published by CdA range from Czeslaw Milosz and Bruno Schulz to Zbigniew Brzezinski or the 16th century German mystic and theologian Jakob Bohme. Our latest acquisitions include:

Cozette de Charmoy, L’ange des poetes. CdA, 1990.
Jakob Bohme and Igor Podolczak, Objawienia dotyczace Boga, nicosci i natury, takze duszy ludzkiej i czlowieczego ciala. CdA, 1993
Zbigniew Brzezinski, Bibliography and Drawings. CdA, 1993.

The latest venture of Correspondance des Arts is the foundation in Lodz in 1993 of a new Museum of Artists’ Books.

If anyone would like more information about Correspondance des Arts or about British Library holdings of their work please contact: Janet Zmroczek, Slavonic and East European Collections, British Library, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. Tel: 071 323 7586. E-mail:


SSEES Library has spare second copies of Deutschland Archiv: Zeitschrift fur das vereinigte Deutschgang, Jahrgang 26: 1-12 – ie all issues for 1993. Any takers should contact Ann Smith (Tel: 071-637-4934 x 4018) or myself on extension 4094. Ed.


1. It would be most helpful in future if all contributions to the Newsletter could be sent to me on IBM compatible disks or via e-mail; the latter would be preferable. Thanks

2. I would like to give an updated listing of new suppliers for Russian and East European books and serials in the next Newsletter. This should reflect all our different experiences… and attempt to bring out which suppliers seem the most efficient. All contributions and opinions greedily anticipated!

© 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 WC1E 7HU. Tel: 071-637-4934 x 4094. Fax: 071 436 8916. E-mail: ursulap@uk.ulcc.clus1