ISSN 0966 999X No. 8 November 1994
COUNCIL FOR SLAVONIC AND EAST EUROPEAN
LIBRARIES AND INFORMATION SERVICES
RECEIPT OF COSEELIS NEWSLETTER VIA EMAIL
This is the last Newsletter which will appear only in hard copy. I shall continue to produce hard copies for the benefit of COSEELIS members who do not yet have access to email. I shall continue to send all members the hard copy unless you inform me otherwise. Please will you let me know if you wish to receive the Newsletter as an email message rather than as a printed hard copy, in which case I shall need to have your current email address. Please note the change to my own email address: firstname.lastname@example.org Ed.
REPORT ON THE 1994 COSEELIS CONFERENCE
This year’s conference was held at the Queen’s University of Belfast on the 22nd and 23rd September, and was attended by about 25 librarians from university and special libraries. Any fears felt by first time visitors to the city were entirely dispelled by the beautiful setting of the university and the unexpected combination of fine weather and a newly declared cease fire which greeted us.
The business of the conference began with a paper by Inese Smith of Loughborough University, who drew upon her recent visit to the Baltic states to describe developments in legislation on libraries and on freedom of information in the region. She also discussed the way in which new technology, in the form especially of access to the Internet and to data on CD ROM, was both improving access to information for libraries in the Baltic and making future censorship more difficult.
The Internet as a subject was to arise several times during the conference, reflecting the way in which it has made communication with Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union easier. The advantages of the Internet as a source of information for British libraries were picked up at the Annual General Meeting, when it was agreed that COSEELIS would arrange a workshop on Internet resources for the study of our region early next year.
A local angle was introduced by the second speaker, Dr Christopher Skillen of the politics department at Queen’s, whose subject was Russian interests in Ireland. He based his conclusions on his study of the Soviet media, and demonstrated how shifts in Soviet policy on this issue always reflected the state of domestic Soviet politics and British-Soviet relations, rather than changed circumstances in Northern Ireland. Dr Skillen drew parallels between the Soviet Union and Ireland, pointing out similar features in their history: both having been founded at around the same time, both with experience of Civil War and of seeking international recognition.
The next day featured another QUB academic, Dr Justin Doherty of the Russian department, who spoke on the image of Gumilev in the memoirs of the Russian émigré poet Georgii Ivanov. He used this example to illustrate Ivanov’s controversial technique of idealizing his subjects to make them representative of their beliefs and philosophies, thus creating something more than a factual memoir and laying himself open to accusations of falsifying the facts.
The second day opened with a paper by Chris Thomas from the British Library on Russian collections and Russian connections in the British Museum in the nineteenth century. In fact her account revealed that links with Russia began with Sir Hans Sloane in the 1750s, but it was Thomas Watts and his immediate successors in the latter half of the nineteenth century who laid the foundations of the Russian collection in the museum, and made it unrivaled outside Russia.
Towards the end of the Conference the mood was made more sombre by Sava Peic, also from the British Library, who presented two videos showing the destruction of libraries caused by the war in the former Yugoslavia. The first video showed the effect of five missiles hitting the Dubrovnik Research Library in June 1992, when the upper floor of the building was destroyed and an irreplaceable collection of manuscripts and rare books was lost. The second video showed the destruction of the National Library of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the summer of 1992, when around two million items were destroyed, again including rare manuscripts and incunabula. Sava spoke of the international efforts being undertaken to help restore the libraries, and of his own plans to raise funds with a traveling exhibition. This will be available in 1995 to libraries who are willing to host it.
The last formal session was a Round Table on acquisitions, which took up the subjects raised by Ron Hogg at the last conference and reviewed progress since then. It was clear that a range of suppliers were being used with favourable mentions going to East View, Lexikon (for Polish books), Bulgarian Books, the Hungarian Book Agency, and Natasha Kozmenko. The use of email was beginning to make contact with suppliers and libraries in Eastern Europe and Russia easier. Two new sources of information were announced: a full catalogue of periodicals published in Latvia was to appear by mid-October (for details contact Inese Smith, Dept of Information and Library Studies, Loughborough University of Technology), and the BLDSC was to publish a directory of libraries and book agents in the former Soviet Union, which would give fax numbers, email addresses and telephone numbers. (Directory of Libraries and Book Agents in the Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, priced £25.00 (£30.00 Overseas), can be ordered from: Turpin Distribution Services Ltd, Blackhorse Road, Letchworth, Herts SG6 1HH Ed)
The conference closed after lunch on the second day, giving those of us with later flights home the opportunity to explore the city. We were all very grateful to Michael Smallman of the Library at Queen’s for providing such a varied, interesting and useful programme and such a welcoming environment.
LIBRARIANS’ CONFERENCE AT PRZEGORZALY, KRAKÓW, August 1995
A conference for library and information scientists will be held at Przegorsaly prior to the Fifth World Congress of ICCEES in Warsaw. The conference will be held at the Polonia Institute of the Jagiellonian University, 3rd-5th August. The conference coordinator is Wojciech Zalewski, Stanford University.
The theme of the conference is The Libraries of the Post-Communist Countries in the International Context. Apart from the sessions given by leading professionals, there will be round-tables offering opportunities to discuss practical topics. The following discussion panels have been formed: Status of Russian and CIS Libraries, Status of East Central and Southwestern Libraries and Librarianship, Outlook and Contributions to Post-Communist Countries from the West, Collection Development, Library Automation; more details of contents, chairs and participants can be found in NewsNet: the Newsletter of the AAASS, v.34, n.4, September 1994.
Arrival in Kraków will be in the afternoon of 3rd August, though earlier arrival can be arranged directly with the Polonia Institute. Chartered buses will leave Kraków for Warsaw on 6th August in the morning. The cost will be $20 for a single room, £25 for a double room, and $15 per day for meals. The registration cost has not yet been finalised; the organisers anticipate additional costs to amount to $600, which will be shared amongst the participants. The transportation costs cannot yet be determined due to the changing prices in Poland. In order to help the East European participants, Western participants are being encouraged to share rooms with them and extend hospitality where possible. As space is limited to 120 places, you are encouraged to make your reservation as soon as possible. This may be done through Wojciech Zalewski, Stanford University Libraries, Stanford, CA 94305-9004 Tel: 415-723-9274. Fax: 415-725-1068. Email: email@example.com
N.B. 1995 Warsaw Conference. Full details appeared in ICCEES Newsletter no.33
SESSION ON ELECTRONIC SOURCES OF INFORMATION ON EASTERN EUROPE
The training session on Electronic Sources of Information on Eastern Europe which I was asked to organise at the COSEELIS Annual Conference in Belfast, will take place on Wednesday 18th January from 12.00 till 17.00 (with a break for lunch) in the Main Library Training Room at the University of Birmingham. I will be getting in touch with those of you who offered to help very shortly. Anyone who is interested in attending can contact me at this email address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
ACQUISITION BY UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM OF FCO RUSSIAN LIBRARY
The Foreign Office Russian Library, minus about ten per cent which was sold separately, has been purchased by the University of Birmingham. I estimate that only about half of the four thousand books in the collection deals mainly with international relations, military matters and history of the Soviet period from 1945. It is not catalogued.
JOURNALS ON OFFER
The University of Reading Library are looking for a home for:
Kommunist (1966-1987; lacks 1975, no.9)
Solanus, no. 1-17 (1966-1982)
They are available for the cost of postage. Please contact: Ruth Linnett, Library, University of Reading, PO Box 223, Reading, RG6 2AE. Telephone: 0734-318785.
DUPLICATE BIBLIOGRAPHY FOR SALE
SSEES Library has a duplicate copy of Russica: The Russian Collection in the Nobel Library of the Swedish Academy: a selective catalogue 1766-1936, compiled by Katarzyna Gruber and Bengt Jangfeldt. Stockholm: Almqvist & Wiksell International, 1994.
The duplicate copy will be sold for £5.00. Enquiries to Erika Panagakis, SSEES Library, University of London, Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU. Telephone: 071 637-4934 x4021.
DUPLICATE ISSUES OF CDSP
SSEES also has a duplicate run of Current Digest of the Soviet Press, 1969-1974. Most but not all issues are present. Free to anyone who can take them off my hands! Please contact Ursula Phillips, Editor of this Newsletter on 071-637-4934 x 4094, or email: email@example.com.
NEW EDITION OF CLIO PRESS BIBLIOGRAPHY ON RUSSIA/USSR
For those of you who are not yet aware, Lesley Pitman’s revised edition is now available from booksellers:
Lesley Pitman, Russia/USSR, 2nd edition, Oxford: Clio Press, 1994. (World Bibliographical Series, vol.6), xxiv, 384p. £58.00.
COSEELIS HOSPITALITY FUND
Members are reminded of the existence of a Hospitality Fund for visitors from Eastern Europe and encouraged to apply for grants from the Fund for visitors who fit the criteria laid out below. The Fund was formed from money remaining from the British Council grant for the Russian librarians’ visit in 1992 and currently amounts to £385.96.
Applications should in the first instance be made to the Treasurer, Janet Zmroczek, who will seek the approval of either the Secretary or the Chairman in the event of any applications which do not strictly fall within the formal criteria.
The Fund should be available for individuals, not groups, with the exception that individuals with full funding from organisations such as the British Council or the British Academy, or with a formal invitation and full funding from another UK organisation would not be eligible.
Examples of suitable applications
1. To pay for a night’s bed and breakfast and a rail ticket for a visitor who has funding for a visit to Oxford but would like to visit Leeds.
2. To provide lunch for two visiting librarians who came to London for the day but have funding only to attend a conference in Birmingham.
An upper limit of £50-75 has been set but in exceptional circumstances the Christmas and Secretary could approve more.
Maintenance of fund
In the last year the Fund has not been used, but if in future it were used more, we might consider a small increase in subscription fees to augment the fund.
Any enquiries should be directed to Janet Zmroczek, COSEELIS Treasurer, Slavonic and East European Collections, British Library, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. Telephone: 071-323-7586. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
ARCHIVES OF THE SOVIET COMMUNIST PARTY AND SOVIET STATE
Publication of this latest microfilming project from Chadwyck-Healey is now beginning. The project is the result of the signing of an agreement two years ago between Rosarkhiv (Russian State Archival Service) and the Hoover Institution, Stanford University to microfilm the Soviet Communist Party Archives. The project is directed by a number of eminent of western and Russian historians including Dmitrii Volkogonov and Robert Conquest.
The scope of the project is enormous. The selection of materials to be filmed is based on two principal criteria. First, the project is giving priority to filming the records of the highest policy making organs of the Communist Party. Second, the project is filming record series (opisi) in their entirety, rather than disparate files or documents selected on the basis of subject content.
The record groups (fondy) selected for filming are located in three repositories: the State Archives of the Russian Federation (GARF); the former Central Party Archive, now called the Russian Centre for the Preservation and Study of Documents of Most Recent History (RTsKhIDNI); and the former Archives of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, now called the Centre for Preservation of Contemporary Documentation (TsKhSD).
Both finding aids and documents are being filmed. The first materials being filmed are finding aids, including those describing documents selected for filming as well as finding aids describing all other archival holdings in the three participating repositories. The documents selected for filming included those in the following record groups (fondy):
Party Congresses and Conferences
Central Committee Plenums
Secretariat of the Central Committee
Apparat of the Central Committee (selected opisi)
Committee for Party Control of Internal Affairs (NKVD), 1917-30
A list of materials that have been selected for filming and that are open for research will be posted electronically on the Hoover Institution’s World Wide Web server beginning November 1, 1994. The URL for the Hoover Institution is
(At the time of the Newsletter going to press this contained only the full text of this very same press release, sent to me by Hoover, Institution to advertise the project, Ed.)
Acquiring the microfilms
Chadwyck-Healey are preparing a free catalogue of all the material to be filmed. It is annotated to indicate which opisi series and dela series (the dela series provide the actual documents) are currently published and it will be updated regularly as more filming is completed. The catalogue will be ready very shortly. In the first catalogue more than 1,000 reels of film will be available for immediate purchase. The free catalogue may be obtained from:
Cambridge CB5 8SW
Tel: 0223-215512. Fax: 0223-215514. Email: email@example.com
Prices are very expensive, as was to be anticipated given the scale and nature of the project. The pricing details are too complex to quote at length here. One reel of film is priced at £95.00, but there are substantial discounts on bulk orders; for orders above, 1,000 reels, for example, the price per reel reduces to £60.00. More detailed information on pricing and ordering may also be obtained from the above address.
HOOVER INSTITUTION TO DEVELOP ELECTRONIC LINK BETWEEN RUSSIAN STATE ARCHIVAL SERVICE AND ARCHIVES AROUND THE WORLD
This is another project undertaken by the Hoover Institution, this time to develop an electronic link between the Russian State Archival Service (Rosarkhiv) and archives around the world. With a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Hoover Institution will carry out the project in partnership with the Research Libraries Group and Rosarkhiv. Work began in summer 1994. The purpose of the project is to develop a system for cataloguing archival materials located in the repositories in Russia and entering the newly created catalogue records into the Research Libraries Information Network (RLIN), an international on-line database. Standards and a methodology will thus be created for sharing information on RLIN. It will also bring together, in the same database, descriptions of similar and related collections held in Russian and in Western repositories. For the first time, the RLIN database will be made available to scholars in Russia, and catalogue records in Russia will be accessible electronically to scholars in the West.
For further information, please contact: Anne Van Camp, Archivist, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford, CA 94305. Tel 415-723-3563. Fax: 415-723-1687. Email: Archives@Hoover.Stanford.Edu.
VISIT TO MOSCOW AND PETERSBURG 30 AUGUST – 18 SEPTEMBER 1994
By Chris Thomas, British Library
My trip was largely funded by the Association Internationale de Bibliophilie (President Antony Hobson) who invited me to speak at their conference in St Petersburg and paid for my air fare and for four nights in the Astoria Hotel. I was able to spend a week in Moscow and a week in St Petersburg (staying with friends) before the conference and so deal with book supply and book exchange matters as well as finalise the arrangements for the selection of four Russian librarians, who will each spend three months at the British Library next year.
I was in Russia at a time when the rouble was fairly stable so, in comparison with last December, I had the impression that life for many people and for libraries was also more stable, though still fraught with problems.
In spite of horror stories in the press about crime and muggings, I did not see any violence anywhere and felt quite safe travelling on public transport and walking around at night. My only trauma was that all my luggage disappeared – turning up two days later with only an ornamental candle and a Winnie the Pooh babygrow missing. One great difference is buying everything for roubles, and since prices are now not much different from prices in Britain, it is necessary to be fairly numerate in order to grapple with all the noughts. Dollars remain a much more convenient currency than pounds.
A superficial survey of books being sold on the street and in bookshops suggests that the average book price is now 8000-10,000 roubles. The rate of exchange at the time was something over 2000 roubles to the dollar.
The most serious problem in libraries seems to be the difficulty of hiring and keeping staff (especially those who know foreign languages) because salaries are so low.
INTERNATIONAL BOOK EXCHANGE
An interview that I had given for Knizhnoe obozrenie, which had come out sounding as if I was longing for the end of book exchanges, had caused offence in some quarters so there were bridges to be repaired.
Russian State Library
I met Tat’iana Afans’eva, head of the International Book Exchange Dept and Zhenia, the referent for Great Britain. They reiterated how important the exchange still is for them, especially the government publications that we send them and the Chadwyck-Healy microfilm of Parliamentary Papers. In view of the fact that they are not in a position to acquire for us enough current Russian material to cover the costs of these expensive publications, and the fact that I have so far been unable to find any funding body which will pay for parliamentary publications on their behalf, we agreed that I would order from them microfilms of runs of older periodicals which are missing from the British Library collections. Orders for these have already helped to decrease the RSL’s debt to us. They have had a period of constant battles with the customs authorities, but these have been resolved, at least for the moment, and they are now sending parcels again.
State Public Historical Library
Met Galina Zaitseva, Head of International Book Exchange. They continue to be as efficient as ever, though life is hard in the exchange dept, since one of their number is spending a year in the States.
Foreign Literature Library
Met Liudmila Kalinova, Head of International Book Exchange and Tat’iana, referent for Great Britain. Because of a misunderstanding about the balance of the exchange (we had thought they were in debt) they had decided that they were fed up with sending hundreds of books to no avail, so had not been treating us as a very high priority during the past few months. The misunderstanding is now cleared up and normal service will be resumed. They will continue to send us short lists of freshly-acquired books by email as well as their normal exchange lists by post. We also agreed to extend blanket orders, ie books selected by them, for a trial period, in the fields of theatre, cinema, religion and pedagogics.
Library of the Pushkin Museum of Fine Arts
Met Irina Zelenova, who deals with British and other exchanges. In spite of the fact that they supply us exclusively with art books, they had had few difficulties with the customs. They had managed to convince officials that, since they are an “institution of special cultural significance” and so exempt from duty and other export regulations.
Russian State University for the Humanities
An unexpected phone call from Zhanna Polukarova (formerly of the Foreign Literature Library, and who came to Cambridge and Harrogate in 1990) led me there. She now works in their library which is being developed practically from scratch though it has inherited the holdings of the Istoriko-arkhivnyi institut. The librarian is another old friend – Vera Zakharovna Grigor’eva who had been a deputy director at the Historical Library. They are keen to set up exchanges; so far they only have connections with Wojciech Zaleski (Stanford) and Tanya Lorkovic (Yale). What they had on their exchange shelves was enticing – monographs by members of staff of the university and publications of the Istoriko-arkhivnyi institut – hard to get from other sources – also, a number of interesting provincial publications. I said that we could not cope with any more exchanges, but they have agreed that we can purchase from them (using the rough pricing system agreed with other exchange partners), paying into a bank account as yet to be identified.
Address: Mrs V Z Grigor’eva, Rossiiskii gosudarstvennyi gumanitarnyi universitet, 6 Miusskaia pl, 125267 Moscow. Tel 250 6118. Fax 250 5109. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Academy of Sciences Library (BAN)
Met Nina Vedernikova who, as usual, was overloaded with work and harassed. She was also very unwilling to accept that such sordid matters as money have to be discussed in connection with book exchanges. Their crisis with posting books and with the customs seems to have passed and service resumes, at least for Nauka material, though small-tirazh publications of institutes are more and more difficult to get. In particular, the Institute for Oriental Studies has set up its own publishing house and prefers to sell books directly; they have promised send me a catalogue.
St Petersburg University Library
Met the director, Natal’ia Sheshina. They are in dire straits! They very much want to continue with exchanges but are still unable to send anything. Since my return I have been trying to arrange transport for the parcels they have ready for us. If this fails, we will have to get their books from elsewhere. (I have received a fax from the publishing house Severo-Zapad, offering to supply university publications, as well as their own and those of other publishers – from their export manager, Nadia Doronina, fax (812) 311 0504).
Russian National Library
Met Aleksei Pavlovich Romanov and browsed in the exchange stocks. I selected some very interesting 1994 books. They are emerging from the wood; their postage and customs problems are resolved for the moment. They had one request: they have nothing by Nancy Mitford in the library, and donations would be gratefully received.
Met Anna Markushina, Head of International Book Exchange. They are now acquiring very good art books, and not only their own publications, but are still wrestling in vain with the customs authorities who are particularly strict with art books. Am trying to find a way round this by getting someone else to export on their behalf.
PUBLISHING AND THE BOOK TRADE
The general opinion seemed to be that publishing was gradually becoming more “normal”, that the period when the market was flooded with cheap “rubbish” to the detriment of serious publishing had passed. As well as those former state publishing houses which had survived, there was now a growing number of solid private publishers, such as Terra, Severo-Zapad, Gnosis, Golos, Vagrius, to name but a few, which were producing high-quality literature for an elite audience. This was born out by what was in bookshops and library exchange stocks.
I met John Bushnell of the Russian Press Service and Natasha who is in charge of their Moscow office. I was very impressed by the knowledge and professionalism of both. Natasha operates to a great extent through direct contact with publishers. Their St Petersburg operation is run by Vladimir Belousov (the Beatles fan formerly in charge of American in the Exchange Section at BAN who was also at Cambridge in 1990).
I visited for the first time the bookshop which everybody recommends, Salon 19 oktiabria on Kazachii perulok (near Polianka metro station). It is the kind of bookshop which is a pleasure to use – you can pick books up and browse, and nearly every book there is enticing. Its strongest fields are literature, history and philosophy.
I was accompanied by a member of staff from the Foreign Literature Library’s Exchange Dept, so I was able to select books on the spot, which she paid for and which will be sent. This made a welcome change from my usual carrying of heavy bags of books on the metro! Another bookshop which everybody rates highly is: Ad Marginem, 1-i Novokuznetskii pereulok, d.5/7 (metro Paveletskaia-radikal’naia or Novokuznetskaia) – similar scope to Salon 19 oktiabria.
The First Russian International Book Fair – 7-12 September
I was just able to catch the opening day before leaving for St Petersburg. It was held in two separate pavilions at the Exhibition of Economic Achievement. As it was so badly sign-posted I missed one of the pavilions containing the stands of the relatively few foreign publishers who attended, and those of Knizhnoe obozrenie, Terra, and a few other large Russian publishing firms. Most Russian publishers were crammed into the ground floor of the pavilion named “Elektrifikatsiia”. Only a few were selling on the first day, but I was able to take notes of many interesting titles; some publishers even had publicity leaflets with lists of available and forthcoming titles. The Book Fair may not have been representative of Russian publishing in general, but it was a cheering sight. There was a lot of interesting “elite”, ie serious material, but the popular literature was also of a high standard. The Rospechat’ stand had free copies of Chitaiushchaia Rossiia – a monthly which I had never seen before (it seems a bit unfocused) – and its supplement Vitrina, which has descriptions of a selection of recently published books and looks useful as an aid to selection.
Liudmila Kalinova from the Foreign Literature Library was at the Fair, looking for stuff for their exchange stocks. Also Natasha Podkorytova from Novosibirsk who came here on the famous Study Tour in 1991.
INTERNATIONAL COLLOQUIUM OF BIBLIOPHILES, St Petersburg, 15-17 September (There is a full-page report in Knizhnoe obozrenie, no.41, 11 Oct 1994.)
The members of the Association Internationale de Bibliophilie are mostly collectors, with a sprinkling of bookdealers and librarians; they are mainly francophone, but with a growing contingent of Americans and non-French Europeans. The Association holds its colloquium in a different place every year, and this was the first time in Russia. The programme was coordinated by Valery Leonov, Director of BAN. There were four lectures, but most of the time was spent looking at displays of treasures put on by some of the main libraries in St Petersburg: the Hermitage; Russian National Library; BAN; St Petersburg University; Pushkinskii dom; Academy of Fine Arts. The exhibitions were wonderful and each library produced a catalogue to accompany its exhibition with text in French and/or English. Another delight was that we had our lunch in a different palace every day; we were served by an almost punky-looking catering firm called Ivan and Co, who followed us round in a lorry carrying containers of delicious food.
SOROS OPEN INSTITUTE FELLOWSHIPS TO BL FOR RUSSIAN LIBRARIANS
The Soros Open Institute has set up a Regional Library Program (specifically to help libraries in Eastern Europe). It has an international advisory panel chaired by Peter Burnett (Marianna Tax Choldin and Katya Genieva are also members). Earlier this year the Institute agreed to help fund a series of fellowships to the BL (four in each of the years 1995-97). I delivered application forms to the Foreign Literature Library who had kindly offered to do the distribution. The scheme is being advertised in the following libraries: Russian State Library; Russian National Library; Library of the Russian Academy of Sciences (BAN); State Public Historical Library; Foreign Literature Library; State Scientific-Technical Library (Moscow); State Scientific-Technical Library (Novosibirsk); Tomsk University Library. The closing date for applications was the end of October. Interviews (board to consist of one Open Institute representatives and two British Library representatives) will be held in Moscow in December.
DESTRUCTION OF LIBRARIES IN FORMER YUGOSLAVIA AND APPEAL FOR AID
Sava Peic, British Library
The war currently being waged in former Yugoslavia is one in which Bosnian Serbs, Croats and Muslims are fighting not only for territorial advantage but in order to break the resistance, will and resolve of very old enemies. An unfortunate and devastating effect of the war has been the destruction of the culture, history and rich national heritage of all three participants.
All three combatants have been responsible for the destruction of churches and mosques (including sacred artefacts, icons and iconostases, irreplaceable religious books and manuscripts), schools, institutions of higher learning, historical and cultural monuments, libraries and archives, not to mention residential buildings and even cemeteries – areas that have been left untouched in previous European conflicts. It is as if there was a death-wish on the part of all three parties to obliterate their national existence and heritage from the face of the earth.
Libraries in Bosnia and Croatia have been wantonly destroyed with little thought about the long-term implications for the Bosnian (Serbian, Croat and Muslim) national heritage; destruction and looting of libraries and archives has been carried out in a deliberately ruthless and systematic way; books have been shot through and burnt by rockets and machine-guns.
The public libraries in Vinkovci and Vukovar were attacked by cannon and burned to the ground. The Pakrac Orthodox Diocesan Library in Pakrac, Slavonia, has been largely destroyed; it contained not only the old Bishop’s Library but old books from Slavonian monasteries and parish churches (during the Second World War these were evacuated to Zagreb); amongst the books and manuscripts lost forever were important texts relating to the history of the Serbs and the Serbian Orthodox Church in Slavonia. The larger libraries of Dubrovnik have also been destroyed including the Dubrovnik Research Library, the Inter University Centre collections, and the Library of the Institute for Historical Sciences of the Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts; similarly with libraries in Mostar and many other provincial towns in both Bosnia and Croatia where hitherto mixed populations of Serbs, Croats and Muslims had once lived.
Perhaps most devastating for the people of Bosnia was the bombardment of the National and University Library of Bosnia-Hercegovina in Sarajevo. The library building was gutted by fire; only those collections which had been moved to the cellars or those previously moved to other sites survived. The fire destroyed the Austrian Reading Room, the Study of the British Centre, all books in the open-access reading rooms, the Germanic, Slavonic, Romance and Hebrew collections, the library for the blind, the music collections, important collections of journals and newspapers not to mention computer equipment and other technical backup; fortunately incunabula, manuscripts, archives, maps, rare books and doctoral theses were saved.
Foreign aid and support
A number of projects have been initiated by publishers and librarians in other parts of Europe. The University of Graz, Austria, was the first to donate books to Bosnian libraries. A project launched in the Czech Republic has so far donated approximately 20,000 books; President Vaclav Havel personally donated a signed copy of Encyclopaedia Britannica. A special foundation was similarly set up in Paris to assist cultural collections in Bosnia-Hercegovina; this foundation started off with a donation of 20,000 francs, which bought 3,000 books. In Italy a project for purchasing materials is being coordinated by the University of Sienna. Other projects are underway in Germany and in the United States.
In the United Kingdom a committee has been formed to help restore the National and University Library in Sarajevo. Could I now plead for support from the international library community and more specifically from the library community in the UK, not only for Sarajevo but also for other libraries which have also been ravaged by the conflict?
At present priority is being given to the collection of reference materials to support university science faculties and other institutions of higher learning; this includes foreign science literature, fundamental works in both science and arts disciplines, national bibliographies, library catalogues, encyclpaedias, dictionaries of all types, abstracts and indexes, geographical and historical maps and atlases, statistical yearbooks, educational literature.
The destruction to libraries and institutions of learning is not, of course, limited to buildings and resources. Several librarians have been killed or injured. The entire infrastructure has been wiped out. Links between libraries and institutions of higher education, and between the institutions themselves, need to be restored. Initiatives and material assistance are greatly needed.
For further information, please contact Sava Peic, Slavonic and East European Collections, British Library, Great Russell Street, London WC1B 3DG. Telephone: 071-323-7585.
© 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 x4094. Fax: 071 436 8916. email: email@example.com