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Librarians of Congress
and the Russian Collections
of the Library

Harold M. Leich ,
Russian Area Specialist

(An earlier version of this article was originally presented on July 28, 2010, at the 8th World Congress of the International Council for Central & East European Studies in Stockholm. It was published in Solanus, New series (London: School of Slavonic & East European Studies), 22 (2011), pages 144-157. This article is a work of the U.S. government and is not subject to copyright protection in the United States).


The aim of this paper is to describe some highlights of the development of the Russian collections of the Library of Congress (LC), as seen as through the prism of the 20th century Librarians of Congress (and one immediate predecessor from the 19th century) and their roles in the development of LC's Russian collections, programs and services. There have been several Librarians of Congress who have served very long terms: Ainsworth Rand Spofford, 1864–1897; Herbert Putnam, 1899–1939; L. Quincy Mumford, 1954–1974; Daniel Boorstin, 1975–1987; and James H. Billington, 1987–2015. All the 20th century Librarians of Congress have had significant influence on building LC's Slavic and Russian collections, which today are probably the largest in the world outside their countries of origin.

LC was founded in 1800, the new nation's first cultural institution. It acquired the first building of its own in 1897 (additional buildings on Capitol Hill opened in 1939 and 1980). LC first began systematically collecting Russian materials just over half its existence ago, in 1906, with the purchase of the 80,000 volume Yudin Collection from Krasnoiarsk, Siberia.1 Since then it has more or less regularly collected Russian print materials at a fairly comprehensive level and, to a lesser extent, non-print materials such as photographs, posters, sound recordings, and motion pictures. The Cold War era, from the late 1940s until the fall of the USSR in 1991, saw a great increase in acquiring materials from and about Russia and the Soviet Union, and in hiring staff to acquire, catalog, preserve, serve and interpret these collections.

We estimate that at present, LC has about 800,000 print volumes (books and bound periodicals, and equivalent volumes in microform) in Russian, and approximately the same number of print volumes about Russia in other languages, primarily in English, French and German, also in other languages of the former Soviet Union.2 Collecting from Russia and about Russia continued, not without problems, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, since LC aims to build comprehensive, universal collections of materials, in whatever format, that are of actual present or potential future interest to the Congress, other government agencies, the academic community and the general public. It is highly likely this collecting will continue, with greater emphasis on collecting 'born digital' materials, on archiving websites, and on digitizing print materials.

LC is anomalous among US government agencies – administratively it is directly under the Congress, the legislative branch of the American federal government. The director of the Library (called 'The Librarian of Congress') is appointed by the President, confirmed by the Senate, and serves a ten-year term, renewable once.3 This is in contrast to Executive Branch agencies, where agency heads change with each new four-year presidential administration (and often much more frequently). Furthermore, the Librarian of Congress is the only political appointee on the Library's staff (unlike most executive branch agencies, where major department heads, up to several dozen in larger agencies, are appointed by the President).

The long-term appointment of the Library director and the absence of other political appointees in high management positions has the advantage, in my view, of isolating LC from everyday partisan politics and allowing the institution and its staff to take the 'long view,' initiating policies and programs with lasting, long-term positive consequences for LC and the nation and its libraries.

Ainsworth Rand Spofford

Ainsworth Rand Spofford was Librarian from 1864 until 1897.4 He established LC as the US copyright agency, thus providing new American publications free of charge to LC collections by copyright deposit. He also secured funding for the Library's first building of its own, which opened in 1897. While LC did not collect Russian materials at the time, Spofford laid the foundations for their future development, chiefly by negotiating a division of labor with the Smithsonian Institution (founded 1846), whereby LC inherited the large Smithsonian library collection and took over that institution's exchanges of library materials with partners world-wide, including Russian ones.5

Herbert Putnam

Herbert Putnam was Librarian for forty years, 1899–1939. It was under Putnam that the scope of LC's collecting broadened from American materials and traditional 'Western civilization' to become truly global in content. Putnam was the driving force behind LC's first major Russian acquisition, the 80,000 volume Yudin Collection of Russian materials, in 1906/07. This acquisition of a pre-existing, comprehensive, well-balanced collection fit right into the general philosophy of the Putnam years and his overall promotion of a much higher profile for LC as the national library of the US with collections of international scope.6 This was largely due to his activist, gregarious approach to fulfilling his obligations as Librarian of Congress.

During his tenure and particularly in the early years, Putnam implemented major efforts at opening up and expanding LC, widening the scope of its activities, raising its national profile, turning attention to international collecting, and constantly honing his vision for LC as the de facto national library. Indeed, many features of LC's current identity and prominence, including efforts to build up its foreign collections, date to the Putnam years and are direct results of his many initiatives.

As examples, let me note a few of the more prominent programs and initiatives begun under Putnam's leadership, many during the first decade of his tenure as Librarian:

  • Catalog card printing and distribution to American libraries, in effect establishing the beginning of standardized descriptive and subject cataloging in the US;
  • The LC classification system was developed, published, and implemented;
  • Development of a regular system for the transfer to LC of unneeded materials from other federal libraries;
  • Establishment of the Legislative Research Service in 1910 (today called the Congressional Research Service), that part of LC that provides reference services and analyses directly to Congress and its staff;
  • Major increases in LC funding and staffing levels by Congress;
  • Greatly increased interest in foreign materials (e.g. the acquisition of the Yudin Collection; hiring a Russian staff member, Alexis Babine;7 the beginning of the foreign archival copying program in 1905);
  • Availability of reference services 'absolutely free, without introduction or credential, to any inquirer from any place';
  • Start of LC participation in national-level interlibrary loan programs, 1906;
  • Acquisition in 1930 of the Otto Vollbehr Collection (an unparalleled major collection of 3,115 incunabula, including a copy of the Gutenberg Bible in perfect condition).8

LC under Putnam's leadership also took a much more prominent role at the national level, providing a number of important services to research and public libraries, for example the formation and maintenance (and, ultimately, the publication) of the National Union Catalog,9 the Union List of Serials,10 and other more specialized reference tools; the development of a code for descriptive cataloging that became the de facto national standard; and provision of Dewey classification numbers on printed catalog cards (an example of a service LC provided solely for other libraries, since LC itself never used Dewey as a retrieval system for books). Putnam first explicitly defined LC as the National Library in late 1932, at which point he proudly announced that it had become the world's largest library.11

After the 1917 Bolshevik revolution, Americans' interest in Russia grew stronger, and for varied reasons: fear of communism and of 'Red' Russia spreading socialism throughout the world; the growing presence in the US of escapees from Russia, people who often represented the cultural, social, artistic, literary, and religious elites of pre-revolutionary Russia; fascination with new social experiments going on in Russia (liberation of women, the sexual revolution, collectivization of agriculture, etc.); and the possibility of increased opportunities for American corporations to do business with and in Russia.

The Library during the 1920s had to develop creative means to acquire Russian publications. Official exchanges were not possible, since the United States did not recognize the Soviet Union diplomatically until 1933. Some unofficial exchanges were established, although poorly documented in the archives, and many materials were received from Russia as gifts. The American Consulate in Latvia (then an independent country not in the USSR) regularly purchased Russian publications for its library in Riga as well as for the Library of Congress, and these were sent to LC's Division of Documents for addition to the collections.

Finally, in the late 1920s and throughout the 1930s, LC systematically purchased Russian publications, primarily pre-revolutionary ones but also from the Soviet period, from two book dealers in New York, Israel Perlstein 12 and Simeon Bolan.13 These two dealers had access to tens of thousands of books and journals confiscated from private individual and institutional libraries in the 1920s and sold for hard currency through selected dealers and auction houses in Western Europe and New York.

One interesting and unusual Russian collection acquired from Perlstein in the early 1930s by the direct intervention of Librarian Putnam was the 'Russian Imperial Collection,' a collection of 2,800 volumes from the personal libraries of the tsars, primarily Alexander III and Nicholas II and their families, from the Winter Palace and other imperial palaces in and around St Petersburg.14

Archibald MacLeish

MacLeish was the Librarian of Congress from 1939 until 1944.15 Many, both inside and outside LC, concluded that the Library, after forty years with the same director, had become ossified and the staff demoralized. MacLeish noted in an interview, many years after leaving LC, ". . . [the Library] really had fallen apart. I have the greatest admiration for Putnam. He gets very high marks for what he did, but it's just another case of a man staying on too long."16

MacLeish in his short term as Librarian accomplished a major reorganization and persuaded Congress to approve a large increase in the Library's budget, including for staff salaries and more staff positions. MacLeish later described his two greatest accomplishments as Librarian as "moving LC into the 20th century" and bringing the Library into contact with the scholarly community.17 Most of his term was during World War II, when the Soviet Union and the US were allies and American interest in Russia and the USSR again increased noticeably.

One important program established during MacLeish's tenure was the Interdepartmental Committee for the Acquisition of Foreign Publications (later called the Cooperative Acquisitions Project for Wartime Publications). Formed during World War II, the committee supplied foreign publications to military and security agencies, several major American university libraries, and kept copies for LC's own collections. The Library itself also produced several internal publications and analyses (classified at the time as 'restricted') based on publications acquired under the Committee's aegis.18 By 1947 the program had distributed over 800,000 publications to American research libraries, showing 'not only the capacity of major US libraries to collaborate in acquiring elusive foreign publications, but also demonstrated LC's capacity to lead such cooperative national efforts.'19

Luther H. Evans

Luther Evans was Librarian of Congress from 1945 until 1953. This was in the early years of the Cold War, but before the big increases in federal funding for Russian studies and library collections that came after the 1957 Sputnik launch. The Library began publication of the Monthly Index of Russian Accessions, a valuable informational and selection tool for American libraries and scholars.20 Two more general bibliographic publications began in the Evans years, Newspapers in Microform,21 and New Serial Titles,22 and these publications became particularly important for Russian bibliographers at university libraries with the major growth of Russian collections that began after 1957.

It was during Evans' term as Librarian that a separate Slavic Division was re-established, in 1951, with responsibility for public service, collection development, special projects, and the publication of bibliographies related to the area.23 Noted émigré historian and bibliographer Sergius Yakobson, consultant on Russian and Slavic matters at LC since the early 1940s, was appointed chief of the Slavic Division in 1951 and remained in that position until his retirement in 1971.24

One major, and unusual, acquisition during Evans' tenure as Librarian was the collection of color photographs taken 1905–1914 in various locales in Russia, the Urals and Western Siberia, the Caucasus, and Central Asia by Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii (1863–1944). Purchased in 1948 from the sons and daughter of the photographer (who had emigrated from Russia in 1918 and lived in Paris at the time of his death), the collection consists of 1,903 glass-plate negatives and 14 albums of black and white contact prints documenting his photographic journeys around the Russian Empire. Because of technical and preservation issues with the glass negatives, it was not until well into the digital era, at the very end of the 20th century, that the full-color images could be 'recovered' and viewed in their original magnificence. Full-color prints of the images from the scanned negatives are startlingly fresh and clear, as if taken yesterday, yet evoke the poignancy of viewing a long-vanished world. The digital versions of the images have become, especially in Russia, one of the most popular elements on the LC website.25

L. Quincy Mumford

L. Quincy Mumford was the Librarian of Congress from 1954 until 1974. He oversaw the large increase in Russian and Soviet collections at the height of the Cold War. Major exchanges of library materials were established with Russian and Soviet libraries beginning in the mid-1950s as the Soviet Union, after Stalin's death in 1953, gradually began to open up to the outside world. These exchanges brought in large quantities of materials. Mumford also engineered a substantial increase in the number of professional staff hired to process Russian and Slavic materials and help readers find and use them. Paul Horecky was hired in the mid-1960s as Assistant Chief of the Slavic Division, helping Yakobson with the growing administrative burdens of managing the burgeoning number of staff members dealing with Russian materials.

Under Mumford's leadership, the Library began a number of important national programs designed to assist American libraries: the compilation and publication in 1963 (on microcard) of the Cyrillic Union Catalog;26 establishment of the National Program for Acquisitions and Cataloging;27 and the opening of overseas offices that acquired materials not only for LC's collections but for other American research libraries as well.28 Many of these initiatives began shortly after the 1957 Soviet launch of Sputnik, an event which led to greatly increased federal funding for education and library development related to the Soviet bloc countries.29

A development of major and permanent importance, begun during Mumford's tenure as Librarian, was library automation, specifically the development and implementation in the mid-1960s of a standardized machine-readable format (MARC) for bibliographic records. While at first used to utilize computer records that produced paper cards for manual card catalogs, the MARC format and the creation of a large body of machine-readable cataloging records led very rapidly in the early 1970s to the rise of large databases such as OCLC and RLIN, and eventually to the almost universal use of on-line public access catalogs at American libraries by the 1980s.

It is interesting to note that during the Cold War, LC did not limit its Russian/Soviet collecting just to military, security-related, and technological matters, but maintained a well-rounded, holistic approach – reflecting the contents of the original Yudin Collection acquired in 1906 as well as LC's general philosophy of being a library of universal content. Thus, LC collected heavily in the humanities and social sciences, as well as in science and technology, eager to have all available published materials that would be actually or potentially informative about the Soviet Union. The Library also collected émigré publications at a comprehensive level, thereby providing a counterbalance to official Soviet publications and viewpoints.

Daniel J. Boorstin

Daniel J. Boorstin was the Librarian of Congress from 1975 until 1987. His tenure saw a boom in library automation and the expansion of machine-readable cataloging (MARC) to all languages and formats, with non-Roman alphabet scripts represented in romanization. An important bibliographic tool, the Slavic Cyrillic Union Catalog, in effect an update to the Cyrillic Union Catalog from the early 1960s, was published in 1980.30

Nationwide, librarians from research collections with major Slavic and East European holdings began to organize in order to further collaborate and communicate on current issues such as computer cataloguing, library networks, cooperative acquisitions, romanization standards, identifying good approval plan vendors, dealing with growing backlogs, and handling increased demands from users for rare and difficult-to-locate materials from Russia and Eastern Europe.31 LC participated actively in this nationwide movement, particularly in the person of David H. Kraus, Assistant Chief of the European Division.

Another initiative begun by Boorstin also continues to this day, the Center for the Book, established in 1977 and charged with promoting books, reading, inter-library collaboration and research on the history of books and reading.32 The Center has traditionally had a strong interest in Russia and has assisted in the establishment in Russia of regional centers for the study of books and reading. In 2006 the Center co-published a major study of reading promotion in Russia, the UK and the US.33

James H. Billington

James H. Billington served as Librarian of Congress from 1987 until 2015. His tenure witnessed the end of communism in Eastern Europe, the collapse of the USSR, and the almost simultaneous beginning of the digital era and the consequent entry of LC into the digital world as a major producer and consumer of electronic information resources. The first Russianist to serve as Librarian of Congress, he brought a new level of Russian-related activities, projects and initiatives to the Library, above and beyond the routine, ordinary library functions such as acquisitions, cataloging, reference services, and preservation. These special projects included exhibitions, seminars, conferences, assistance programs for Russian libraries, internship programs for Russian librarians and archivists, and in general greatly expanded connections with a number of Russian institutions.

Some examples relating specifically to the building of LC's Russian collections during Billington's tenure include the following:

  • Establishment of an acquisitions office in Moscow in March 1990, charged with collecting ephemeral materials from the glasnost´ and perestroika period, 1985–1991, specifically the 'independent' or informal press of those times.34
  • Receipt in 1994 by gift of 5,000 reels of microfilm from the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, representing many materials microfilmed by Hoover in the formerly secret archives of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
  • Long-term loan to libraries in Russia, Lithuania and Ukraine of microfilming equipment surplused by the Defense Department and donated to LC. Under agreements with individual libraries, LC receives a copy of all materials filmed by the Russian, Lithuanian and Ukrainian libraries.
  • The development of the 'Meeting of Frontiers' digital library website, focusing on the history of Russian America, the Russian and American frontiers, and their meeting in Alaska in the 18th and 19th centuries. The project, begun in 1998, has acquired thousands of digital materials from repositories in Russia (especially Siberia), Germany and the US.35
  • LC acquired almost 1,900 volumes published from the late 1980s through the mid-1990s when in 2002 the Victor Kamkin bookstore (Rockville, Maryland) went out of business. LC was allowed to select volumes for its collections and those of several other libraries, and was able to fill in many gaps in its collections from the very late Soviet and early post-Soviet periods, a time when LC's traditional acquisitions sources were going out of business because of radical changes in the Soviet and post-Soviet economy.36

Collection development for the Library's Russian collections changed dramatically after the fall of the USSR and the emergence of a democratic, capitalist Russia. The Library now acquires most new publications by purchase from dealers, rather than on exchange from Soviet libraries. Some exchanges have been maintained, but the bulk of new receipts come from commercial vendors. Gifts to the LC Russian collections have become an increasingly important acquisitions source: given LC's high profile, many authors want the real or imagined prestige of having their books in our collections and a bibliographic record for them in our online catalog. Russian visitors to the US on delegations sponsored by LC's sister agency, the 'Open World' Leadership Program, often donate books from and about their home cities and regions.37


Thanks to LC's holistic approach to collecting, the end of the Cold War did not mean the end of Russian collecting at LC – quite the contrary, the Library continues to acquire at as comprehensive a level as possible given available funding, and attempts to keep up with the 'print' explosion in Russia (more titles and more interesting materials, published in smaller print runs – and no more communist propaganda books) and with the digital revolution as well.

With restrictions on travel within Russia liberalized after 1991, we now serve readers and researchers in new (for American Russianists) fields of study – ecology, ethnography, anthropology, ethnic relations, etc. Graduate students these days no longer need rely solely on library research in the US and archival research in Russia to write their dissertations – there is much more research involving on-site field work and study. Recent examples I am familiar with are graduate students researching the ecology of the Aral Sea and conducting 'urban anthropological' field work on inter-ethnic relations in mixed-nationality cities such as Ufa and Kazan'. Travel to these places, and research involving direct interaction with ordinary Russians, would have been unthinkable during virtually the entire Soviet period.

LC's future, and that of its Russian collections, will be increasingly digital. This is already reflected on the Library's website, especially the homepage of the European Division, with links to digital, full-text versions of earlier bibliographic publications 38 as well as to newer, digital-only catalogues, bibliographies, and finding aids.39

The future of course is impossible to predict. Much of what LC collects will be digital, and selection of websites to archive will become increasingly important. Russia remains a very important country and a significant player on the world stage. It will undoubtedly be of continuing, deep interest to the Congress. It will also remain the prime focus of many in the academic world, of thousands of scholars and students world-wide. My prediction is that LC will continue to collect materials from and about Russia in all formats available, into the indefinite future.


1 For the history of the Yudin Collection, references to its purchase by the Library of Congress, and its subsequent fate at LC, see Harold M. Leich, " 'So Ample a Collection, So Well Balanced': The Yudin Collection at the Library of Congress", Slavic & East European Information Resources, 9, no. 2 (2008), pp. 127–142.

2 A general overview of the Library's Russian holdings in all formats is available at:

3 Until 2015, Librarians of Congress served life terms.

4 On Spofford, see John Y. Cole, Ainsworth Rand Spofford, Bookman and Librarian (Littleton, Colorado: Libraries Unlimited, 1975).

5 On the relationship with the Smithsonian Institution, see Nancy E. Gwinn, "The Library of Congress and the Smithsonian Institution: a Legislated Relationship," in Cole and Aikin, Encyclopedia of the Library of Congress, 2004, pp. 91–102; and her "The Library of Congress, the Smithsonian Institution, and the Global Exchange of Government Documents, 1834–1889," Libraries & the Cultural Record, 45, no. 1 (2010), pp. 107–122.

6 For Herbert Putnam and his tenure at LC, 1899–1939, see Rosenberg, "The Nation's Great Library, 1993"; Mearns, "The Story Up To Now, 1947"; and John Y. Cole, "Putnam, Herbert," in Cole and Aikin, Encyclopedia of the Library of Congress, 2004, pp. 443–445.

7 On Babine and his career at LC and elsewhere, see Evgenii Pivovarov, A. V. Babin, 1866–1930 gg. (Sankt Peterburg: Petropolis, 2002).

8 Annette Melville, Special Collections in the Library of Congress, a Selective Guide (Washington: Library of Congress, 1980), 255.

9 The National Union Catalog (NUC) was maintained for many years as a card catalog at LC, incorporating catalog cards sent in by North American libraries. The pre-1956 NUC was published in 754 volumes between 1969 and 1981: The National Union Catalog, Pre-1956 Imprints (London: Mansell). The 1956+ NUC was published monthly with quarterly, annual, and quinquennial cumulations. The NUC faded away as a print product in the early 1990s, superseded by the large online databases such as OCLC, RLIN, WLN, and UTLAS (the last three no longer in existence).

10 Union List of Serials in Libraries of the United States and Canada (New York: Wilson, 1927). A second edition was published in 1943, and a third and final edition, in five large volumes, in 1965 (both also published by Wilson).

11 For LC programs in the Putnam era, see Rosenberg, "The Nation's Great Library, 1993"; and Mearns, "The Story Up To Now, 1947".

12 On Perlstein, see Robert Karlowich, "Israel Perlstein and the Russian Book Trade in the US," Newsletter, Slavic & East European Section, Association of College and Research Libraries, American Library Association, no. 3 (1987), pp. 52–59.

13 On Bolan, see Irina Tarsis, "Book Dealers, Collectors, and Librarians: Major Acquisitions of Russian Imperial Books at Harvard, 1920s–1950s," in Anne Odom and Wendy R. Salmond, editors, Treasures into Tractors: the Selling of Russia's Cultural Heritage, 1918–1938 (Washington: Hillwood Estate, Museum & Gardens, 2009), pp. 369–387.

14 For details on the collection and its acquisition, see Harold M. Leich, "The Tsar's Library, Books from Russian Imperial Palaces at the Library of Congress," in Odom and Salmond, Treasures into Tractors, 2009, pp. 341–368.

15 On MacLeish, see John Y. Cole, "MacLeish Archibald," in Cole and Aikin, Encyclopedia of the Library of Congress, 2004, pp. 323–325; and Scott Donaldson, Archibald MacLeish, an American Life (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1992).

16 Archibald MacLeish, Reflections (Amherst: U. of Massachusetts Press, 1986), p. 129.

17 MacLeish, Reflections, p. 136.

18 E.g. its Subject Index to Foreign Publications, published 13 January 1945, and a supplement, Abstracts on Personalities. Both these publications are now de-classified and available in LC collections.

19 William G. Jones and Paul Mosher, "Academic Libraries," in Robert Wedgeworth, editor, World Encyclopedia of Library and Information Services, 3rd ed. (Chicago: American Library Association, 1993), p. 18.

20 The publication was issued monthly from April 1948 until May 1969. From 1948 until December 1957 the title was Monthly List of Russian Accessions.

21 Newspapers on Microfilm, first–sixth editions (Washington: Library of Congress, 1948–1967).

22 New Serial Titles (Washington: Library of Congress, 1951–1999?). Issued monthly, with annual cumulations, the issues for 1951–1952 bore the title Serial Titles Newly Received. A multi-year cumulation covering 1950–1970 was issued in 1973: New Serial Titles, a Union List of Serials Commencing Publication after December 31, 1949. 1950–1970 Cumulative (Washington: Library of Congress; New York, Bowker, 1973). 4 volumes. Additional multi-year cumulations by the same publishers covered 1971–75, 1976–80, 1981–85, and 1986–89. The publication seems to have ceased at the end of 1999.

23 For a detailed account of the administrative history of the Slavic Division, its predecessors and successors, including today's European Division, see Jane Aikin, "European Division and Collections," in Cole and Aikin, Encyclopedia of the Library of Congress, 2004, pp. 233–238.

24 On Yakobson, see "Iakobson Sergei Iosifovich" in Nezabytye mogily: rossiiskoe zarubezh´e, nekrologi 1917–2001. Tom 6, chast´ 3 (Moskva: Rossiiskaia gos. biblioteka, 2007), p. 639.

25 On the Prokudin-Gorsky collection, see S. P. Garanina, Rossiiskaia imperiia Prokudina-Gorskogo, 1905–1916 (Moskva: Krasivaia strana, 2006). The digital versions of the images are available online at:

26 Cyrillic Union Catalog, Pre-1956 Imprints (microprint) (New York: Readex Microprint, [1963]). The original main entry and title card files of the CUC are in the European Division at the Library of Congress; 178,226 bibliographic entities are represented in the catalog.

27 On the National Program for Acquisitions and Cataloging, see John W. Cronin, "The Library of Congress' National Program for Acquisitions and Cataloging," Libri (Copenhagen), 16, no. 2 (1966), pp. 13–117; and Edmond L. Applebaum, "Centralized Cataloging for the Country, Now and in the Future," in Changing Concept of Service in Libraries: a Centennial Lecture Series and Symposium (Terre Haute, Indiana: Dept. of Library Science, Indiana State University, 1970), pp. 42–57.

28 The LC overseas offices trace their origins back to the days immediately after the end of World War II, when the Farmington Plan was devised to assure that at least one copy of every important foreign work of research value be located at an American library. The Farmington Plan began functioning in 1947 and never covered any of the Soviet-bloc countries. For a general history of the program, see Ralph D. Wagner, A History of the Farmington Plan (Lanham, Maryland: Scarecrow Press, 2002). From 1965 until 1972 LC had an acquisitions office in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, and from 1973 until 1977 one in Warsaw, Poland.

29 On the large and rapid growth of federal funding of programs (including library collections) for the study of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and especially on the funding provided by the National Defense Education Act of 1958, see Joseph Axelrod and Donald N. Bigelow, Inventory of NDEA Title VI Language and Area Centers (Washington: American Council on Education, 1961); and Donald N. Bigelow and Lyman H. Legters, NDEA Language and Area Centers, a Report of the First 5 Years (Washington: Office of Education, US Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare, 1964). (OE Bulletin, 1964 no. 41). For a retrospective, post-Soviet view of American 'Sovietology' see David C. Engerman, Know Your Enemy: the Rise and Fall of America's Soviet Experts (Oxford: Oxford U. Press, 2009).

30 Slavic Cyrillic Union Catalog (microform) (Totowa, New Jersey: Rowman & Littlefield, [1980]). The original file of approximately 350,000 cards is kept in the European Division at LC.

31 The formal start of this inter-institutional cooperation dates to the September 1975 'Slavic Librarians' Conference' held at the University of Illinois/Urbana.

32 On the Center, see John Y. Cole, "Center for the Book," in Cole and Aikin, Encyclopedia of the Library of Congress, 2004, pp. 203–207; Guy Lamolinara, "National and International Roles of the Center for the Book," Libraries & the Cultural Record, 45, no. 1 (2010), pp. 37–55.

33 Valeria Stelmakh and John Cole, editors, Building Nations of Readers: Experience, Ideas, Examples (Moscow: Pushkin Library, 2006).

34 A catalog of LC's collection of the Soviet independent press was published in 1991: New Soviet and Baltic Independent Serials at the Library of Congress, a Holdings List (Washington: Library of Congress, 1991). An expanded and updated version is available on the European Division's webpage, at:

35 The digital library is available at:

36 For the Kamkin project, see Harold M. Leich, "The Victor Kamkin Bookstore and the Library of Congress, 2002 and 2006 Events," Slavic & East European Information Resources, 8, no. 1 (2007), pp. 25–32.

37 Information on the 'Open World' program is available at

38 For example, Rudolf Smits, Half a Century of Soviet Serials, 1917–1968 (Washington: LC, 1968), available full-text at:

39 For example, Angela Cannon, Russian Newspapers at the Library of Congress. 2016, available at:

Basic Bibliography

Cole, John Y., "The Library of Congress Becomes a World Library, 1815–2005", Libraries & Culture, a Journal of Library History, 40, no. 3 (Summer 2005), pp. 385–398.

Cole, John Y., and Jane Aikin, editors, Encyclopedia of the Library of Congress. Washington: Library of Congress, 2004.

Conaway, James, America's Library, the Story of the Library of Congress, 1800–2000. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2000.

Mearns, David C., "'The Story Up to Now' (History of the Library of Congress, 1800–1945)," Annual Report of the Librarian of Congress for the Fiscal Year Ending June 30, 1946 (Washington: GPO, 1947), pp. 13–227.

Rosenberg, Jane Aikin, The Nation's Great Library: Herbert Putnam and the Library of Congress, 1899–1939. Urbana, IL: U. of Illinois Press, 1993 .

Stevens, Robert D., The Role of the Library of Congress in the International Exchange of Official Publications, a Brief History Washington: Library of Congress, 1953

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