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Slavic and East European studies collection policy

Liaison librarian

  • Tatiana [dot] Bedjanian [at] mcgill [dot] ca (Email) 514-398-7383

History of the Collection

Like many North American collections in the area of the Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, the McGill collection began its real growth after World War II. During the 1960s and early 70s some strength in the area of Balkan studies was developed largely under the direction of Prof. M. Mladenovic. This strength combined with the collection of the Islamic Studies Library has given McGill a certain strength in those subject areas where the Slavic and Islamic worlds meet. This interest was not maintained after the midseventies. Indeed Islamic Studies has not systematically collected Slavic language materials for many years.

Current Collection Development

Collecting has shifted along with faculty interests which now centre on attempting to maintain a respectable foundation for Russian history in general and research concentration in East Central Europe of the early modern period. For contemporary issues an effort is made to collect in a broad range of areas which are of interest to the numerous undergraduates studying the Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the Political Science Department. Research interests in contemporary issues must, to a large extent, be satisfied through the provision of key periodicals (journals, newspapers and magazines) from the countries in question. In order to facilitate research, high priority is given to the acquisition of reference materials, especially of bibliographical and biographical tools.

Academic Programmes and Liaison

Undergraduate interest in all aspects of the Former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe is evidenced by the large numbers enrolled in pertinent courses in the Departments of History, Economics and Political Science as well as in the language courses offered by the Department of Russian and Slavic Studies. Most of the graduate work undertaken is presently done in the History Department.

Collection development is the responsibility of the Slavic and East European bibliographer. Liaison with faculty is maintained through a faculty coordinator chosen in consultation with the Chairman of the Department of Russian and Slavic Studies. Regular contact with other bibliographers and teaching departments is maintained through the sharing of relevant review material.

McGill Resources

The Humanities and Social Sciences Library is the major location for the university's Slavic and East European studies collection.

The Government Documents Department includes relevant publications, inter alia FBIS (Foreign Broadcasts Information Service) daily reports, Selected Rand Corporation Reports, United Nations documents, U.S. Senate and House committees on foreign relations and the U.S. Joint Economic Committee.

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections includes scattered materials of considerable interest in its book, map and manuscript collections, notably the Noel Buxton papers. The McGill Archives and the Osler Library hold the papers of several doctors of Russian descent who were affiliated with the University.

As previously mentioned Islamic Studies Library also contains much material of interest to Balkan scholars.

The Law Library holds some material pertinent to space law and contemporary law of the FSU to support Faculty interest in human rights questions.

The Polish Institute Library has an excellent collection of Polish scholarly serials and monographs built up mainly through exchange programmes and donations since World War II. The Library's strengths lie in 20th century history and politics. Currently its holdings relating to Polish history and culture number about 36,000 volumes. Among these are counted approximately 400 serial titles. The Library also houses a fine collection of World War II pamphlets and publications of the Polish Government in Exile. As of 1989 the Library's holdings have begun to be included in the McGill Library's online catalogue.

Regional Resources

The Bibliothèque des lettres et sciences humaines at the Université de Montréal includes a small collection of pertinent materials. Since the demise of the Département des Etudes Slaves there is no Russian programme beyond the Bachelor's level so that current collecting levels are modest, especially in vernacular languages. However this library is good for French language monographs relevant to Slavic Studies.

Consortia and Document Delivery

The Center for Research Libraries, a consortium to which McGill belongs, includes a variety of materials of interest to the scholar of Slavic and East European Studies, in particular the Center's collection of Akademiia Nauk publications. Until 1988 the Center collected all Akademiia Nauk publications except for those receiving limited distribution. Since then, realizing that these publications were widely collected in North American libraries, publications of "Nauka" in the social sciences and humanities are not processed by the Center. The Center acquires publications that have only limited print runs. Other relevant materials at CRL include copies of all bibliographies listed in Patricia Grimstead's invaluable Archives and Manuscripts series which is held by the McLennan Reference Department as well as the microfiche collection Russian History and Culture. The latter collection (in progress) consists of several thousand scarce books from 19th and early 20th century Russia in the University of Helsinki Library. A partial listing of the collection is held in the Reference Department but all titles appear in the supplements to the CRL catalogue itself. Beginning with January 1990, CRL has been receiving on exchange lengthy abstracts of Soviet theses in the areas of History, Economics and Philosophy.

Research Libraries Group and OCLC memberships provide access to vast bibliographic data bases and to efficient document delivery systems based on the holdings of North America's most eminent research collections.

General Collection Guidelines

Languages: English and Russian primarily, followed by Bulgarian, Czech, Hungarian, Polish, Romanian, Serbian, Croatian and Ukrainian. To a certain extent we rely on Université de Montréal and Université du Québec à Montréal to select French language materials. A special effort is made to select the most important German language productions in the field.

Chronological Coverage: Interests span the relevant cultures from the early Middle Ages to the present. Special emphasis on the medieval and early modern period for history and on contemporary issues.

Geographical Coverage: Priorities are indicated in the Subjects and Levels of Collecting Section.

Date of Publication: For Russian language titles the emphasis is on obtaining current publications through an approval plan. For the other Eastern European countries purchases are mostly through Western dealers. Most of the Romanian material comes on exchange. Whenever possible, retrospective acquisitions are made to upgrade specific areas of the collection and to serve as replacements for important books which have deteriorated or disappeared. Dealers' catalogues, reprint and microfilm lists are regularly scanned for items of interest.

Subjects and Levels of Collecting

Definitions of collection levels are derived from the American Library Association's Guide for Written Collection Policy Statements, 2nd. ed., 1996.

Collection Levels Definition of the collection levels employed by McGill University Libraries.

Philosophy, Political Theory and Ideology 3a  
Works concerning political philosophies etc. in general are the province of the philosophy or political science bibliographer depending on the approach. However works dealing specifically with Russian or East European thinkers or movements are selected by the Slavic bibliographer.    
Institutional and Cultural History of Russia and Eastern Europe is collected at the 3b level since it is important to the understanding of the societies and literatures of these regions. A very careful selection of keynote publications in Russian dealing with the history of science, technology and medicine are referred for purchase to the appropriate McGill library location. There is a continuing interest in the introduction of Western science and technology from the eighteenth century to date. 3b  
Religion 3a  
Christianity in the FSU and Eastern Europe is collected at a basic information level (2) by Religious Studies Library. Judaism in the FSU and Eastern Europe is collected by the Jewish Studies Bibliographer for McLennan at the 3a level. Vernacular publications of outstanding importance as well of Western language works dealing with the relationship between church and state are selected for McLennan.    
Economics 3a  
      Economic History
      Human Resources/Labour
      Natural Resources and the Environment
      Regional and Urban Planning and Management
      Theory, Planning and Management
During the 1970s and early 1980s Soviet Economics were collected heavily. After 1986, while less emphasis was placed on this area of collecting, an attempt was made to maintain a modest level of acquisition of Soviet publications on economics due to the phenomena of perestroika and glasnost. Works on the economics of Eastern Europe in general and on its constituent nations are collected largely in English, and occasionally in French and German or Russian. In general, priority is given to works concerning the economics of Hungary and Poland.    
Government, Politics, & International Relations    
Communist Party, Marxism 3a  
    Politics 3b  
    Nationalities, Republics, Regions 3b  
    International Relations 3b  
Western foreign policy towards FSU is covered by Political Science while the foreign policy of the FSU towards other countries is the responsibility of the Slavic bibliographer.  3a  
    Cultural and Scientific Relations 3a  
    Arms Control & Disarmament 2  
Military Affairs    
Works on the military affairs of the FSU and Eastern Europe are largely collected to support the research strength in arms control and disarmament and other international relations aspects of military force. Some historical material (in vernacular languages only) is purchased to support existing strengths of the History collection, in particular concerning participation in World Wars I and II.    
Law 2  
Historical collections of the laws of individual countries are purchased in the vernacular for McLennan to support research in the History Department. A few basic serials covering current Russian Law are bought for McLennan to support current research in the Political Science Department and to provide for future research interests. Purchasing of Western language monographs in the area of Russian and East European Law, and civil rights is done in consultation with the Law Library.    
Anthropology, Archaeology & Ethnology 3a  
Collected at the basic information level only, largely English language works but also some Russian, especially on northern Siberia. There is considerable interest in ethnic communities in the far North and in anthropological works as they may reflect on questions of nationalities.    
Vernacular material selected to support level 3b assigned under Human Geography policy.    
Communications 3a  
Works in vernacular and western languages are acquired to support general and comparative studies.    
Sociology 2  
Works in vernacular and western languages are acquired to support general and comparative studies.    
Education 2  
General and vernacular material selected to support general cultural interests and comparative education.    
Russia/Soviet Union    
    Historiography 3b  
    Medieval Rus' & Muscovy 3b 4
    Imperial 3b  
    18th Century 3b 4
    19th Century 3b 4
    Late Empire, War, Soviet Revolution    
     1923-1938 3a  
     1939-1945 3a  
     1946-1960 3a 4
     1960-1985 3a 4
     1985- 3b 4
Ukraine 3a  
East and East Central Europe    
While the name and boundary changes in this area are too complicated to delineate here, it is important to indicate that the emphasis in collecting is heaviest in the early modern period for the Central European lands, especially Bohemia, Poland, Hungary, Austria, and Moldavia/Wallachia. The development of the Habsburg Empire, and European portion of the Ottoman Empire are themes of particular importance in the development of the collection. Retrospective purchases of standard works and published primary sources are made as funding allows.    
Baltic countries 3a  
  Poland -1683 3a 3b
    1684-1796 3b 4-
    1796-1918 3b  
    20th century 2  
  Czechoslovakia -1471 3a 3b
    1471-1750 3b 4
    1750-1918 3a 3b
    20th century 3a 3b
  Hungary -1700 3b 4
    1700-1848 4- 4
    1849-1918 3a 3b
    20th century 3a 3b
  Romania 3b  
Balkan Peninsula    
    Medieval 3b  
    Early Modern 4- 4
    Modern 3a  
    Byzantine Empire 4- 4
Slavs abroad    
Publications concerning Slavs and East Europeans in Canada are referred to the Canadiana bibliographer. Collecting of materials on emigré cultures otherwise limited to major historical figures and movements which have had an impact on the homelands.    
Language and Literature    
See Russian and Slavic Languages and Literature Policy    

Coordination and Cooperation

McLennan Reference Department: Recommendations for the purchase of reference works are forwarded to Reference.

Government Documents: Government documents and statistical materials are collected in cooperation with the Government Documents Department.

Religious Studies: The acquisition of materials on religion is shared with the Religious Studies and Jewish Studies bibliographers. The Slavic and East European bibliographer takes responsibility for works which illustrate the relationship between church and state and for historical and philosophical works. Religious Studies collects at a basic information level works of interest for the study of the development and influence of Christian sects in the FSU and Eastern Europe.

Islamic Studies: Currently the Institute takes a minimal interest in Islam in the Former Soviet Union and in the Balkans. Consequently McLennan collects major English language works on contemporary issues and refers some items of interest to the Islamic Studies librarian, especially bibliographies and basic reference works in Russian.

BlackaderLauterman: Russian and East European language titles of particular interest in the fields of art, architecture and urban planning are selected in consultation with the Blackader librarian.

Education: Selection of works in the area of education, beyond some basic historical texts is done at the Education Library where the main interest is in comparative education.

Howard Ross Library of Management: Selection of current materials on Industry and Business in the Former Soviet Union and Eastern and Central Europe is done at the Howard Ross Library and to some extent at the Law Library.

BlackerWood, Osler and PSEAL libraries: See history of science, technology and medicine in Philosophy etc. section above.

Law Library: see Law section in Subjects and Levels section of policy..

Macdonald Campus Library: An attempt is made to coordinate purchasing works on agricultural and environmental topics with Macdonald College Library.

Plans for Further Development

1. Continue to elaborate desiderata lists.

2. Investigate sources of grant monies.

3. Completion of bibliographic guide for East Central European History.

Descriptions of the Collection

Anderson, Helen. Student Guide to Reference Sources in Russian History. Montreal, Reference Department McLennan Library, McGill University, 1989.

Anderson, Helen. Serials in the Area of Slavic and East European Humanities and Social Sciences in McGill University Libraries. Montreal, The Library, 1992. Typescript.

Budurowycz, Bohdan. "McGill University" in Slavic and East European Resources in Canadian Academic and Research Libraries. Ottawa: National Library of Canada, 1976.

Budurowycz, Bohdan. Survey of the Slavic and East European Collection of the McGill University Libraries. Montreal, 1987. Typescript

Current Serial and Standing orders lists available from the bibliographer

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