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Recap: Research Workshop: Slavic Collections in North America at Yale

April 22, 2024

The Research Workshop on Slavic Collections in North America took place on April 18, 2024 at Yale’s Humanities Quadrangle, hosted by Anna Arays, the Librarian for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies at Yale University. This event was an incredible opportunity for students to meet librarians from across the country’s top institutions and learn more about collection highlights, research opportunities, and more! Participants from the following Libraries:

Columbia University Libraries
Cornell University Library
Dartmouth College Library
Duke University Libraries
Harvard Library
Library of Congress
New York Public Library
New York University Libraries
Princeton University Library
University of Pennsylvania Libraries
University of Toronto Libraries

Each librarian then had the floor to speak about their libraries and their slotted collections, including guidelines for visiting collection, highlights, and opportunities for researchers—since the spring semester of 2024 marked an episode of particularly high interest in Slavic collections and research. 

We first heard from Anna Rakityanskaya, Librarian for Russian and Belarusian collections at Harvard Library, who immediately pointed out that “[their] European collections are among the largest of its kind outside their former Soviet Union and Eastern Central Europe.” She outlined all the incredible online resources and physical archives at Harvard, mostly available to the public—she listed both material and traditional objects that are part of the archive but also map collections and research guides. Also for students specifically, there are research grants and fellowships, readily available.

Ernest Zitser, Librarian for Slavic, Eurasian, and Eastern European Studies of Duke University, who emphasised the great diversity of types of resources available at Duke, including documentary photograph collection, the postcard and stereographic collection, and the historical newspapers of the Slavic diaspora in America. On a more niche topic, there are also collections on the intersection of Slavic studies and women studies or economics, all of great interest to fellow researchers.

Ksenya Kiebuzinski, Head, Petro Jacyk Central & East European Resource Centre, covered the resources available at University of Toronto Libraries, encompassing the Thomas Fisher rare Book Library, a solidarity collection, which continues to grow, the Igor Belusovich collection, and so many more nuanced collections, such as the Communist and Radical movements collection! For students in all capacities there are fellowships and conferences worth checking out.

Another highlight from New York state was the presentation by Robert H. Davis, Librarian for Russian, Eurasian and East European Collections at Columbia University who explained the vast history of New York collections over the past two centuries. He noted that “Columbia, is solely responsible for collecting humanistic and social science print materials in Albania, Bosnia, and Bulgaria, Macedonia.” But far more than that, New York also hosts collections on the intersection of Slavic literature and sexuality, namely “that the libraries of our East Coast consortium pay particular attention to documenting the Lgbtq plus communities throughout the region.”

Bogdan Horbal, Curator for Slavic & East European Collections, presented the resources at the New York Public Library. And since it’s public, you could just walk in at any time. Interestingly enough, you can find all materials categorised by business, community political activist, costume set, design, dance manuscripts, military, etc. They also have a unique exhibition at the entrance of the library that changes every three months, and you should surely check out!

Librarian Angela Cannon came next on stage to talk about the resources offered by the Library of Congress, more specifically when it comes to Slavic and East European research. While the specific materials are a bit more difficult to access, all staff members are definitely your starting point since “materials from our regions are scattered throughout the Library of Congress.” She pointed out that while the Library of Congress has extensive literature on nearly everything, the only topics missing would be medicine and agriculture. In addition to their large newspaper collection, they also have “an extensive Russian [and Bulgarian] rare book collection.” In summary, there’s nearly everything one may need for their research.

Kirsten Painter, Slavic and East European Studies Librarian, went on stage to present the collections at the University of Pennsylvania. On a unique note, Kirsten walked us through all the distinct materials in their collections, including children’s notebooks from school (lessons and drawings about Lenin amongst others), posters with emphasis on women and children’s education, rare Ukrainian and Russian children’s books, and Lithuanian archives. 

Anna Arays (Yale University) concluded the event by thanking all speakers and inviting all attendees to the unique Slavic reading rooms that every campus holds!

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