March 20, 2017 New Chief Named for European Division

Press Contact: Jennifer Gavin (202) 707-1940

Grant Harris has been appointed chief of the European Division at the Library of Congress. He has 33 years of library experience with expertise in Eastern- and Western-European history, culture, politics and languages. Harris has served with distinction as the head of the European Reading Room since 2008 and as supervisor of collections management for the division.

“Grant Harris, an internationally known librarian, brings outstanding experience to this position,” said Helena Zinkham, director of Collections and Services in the Library’s Library Services division. “The European Division will continue to thrive because of his extensive knowledge of the Library’s European collections in all formats and his wide network of U.S. and foreign scholars and institutions.”

Harris earned a Bachelor of Sciences degree in Meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, a Master of Arts degree in International Communications with a Postgraduate Certificate in Translation (Russian-English) at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in Monterey, California, and a Master of Library Sciences degree at the Catholic University of America. His foreign-language expertise includes Russian, French, Romanian and Albanian.

He came to the Library in 1983 as a consultant for the European Division, and the next year became a reference librarian in the same division, eventually taking on recommending dutiesfor Albania, Kosovo, Moldova, Romania, French-speaking Belgium and Switzerland, and backup for the former U.S.S.R.

Harris was acting head of the European Reading Room intermittently from 1989 through 1995. Since 2009 he has performed liaison duties for the Library with Russia and has coordinated relations between the Library of Congress and the Boris Yeltsin Presidential Library in St. Petersburg, Russia. He has given numerous presentations about the Library’s Slavic/East European collections and digital initiatives at professional conferences and lectured about the Library in Moldova, Romania, Albania, Kosovo and the Republic of Macedonia, among others. In 2010 Harris was guest editor for “The Fate of the Book Chambers and National Bibliography in the Former Soviet Republics Since 1991.” (Special issue, “Slavic & East European Information Resources” 11, no. 1).

Harris was honored by the Romanian Minister of Foreign Relations for promoting cultural relations with Romania. Harris has published numerous articles in scholarly journals about the Library’s East European and Slavic collections. He organized a great many public events, including panels and presentations showcasing the Library’s collections and featuring internationally renowned speakers and foreign dignitaries.

The European Division is the Library's gateway for most European countries, except Spain and Portugal (under the Hispanic Division) and the United Kingdom and Ireland (covered by the Main Reading Room). It also provides a point of access for readers and researchers seeking to use materials from and about Russian-speaking Asia.  The European Reading Room has custody of current Slavic and Baltic newspapers and periodicals, retrospective East European newspapers on microfilm, reference collections for more than 40 countries of Europe and other collections.

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PR 17-035
ISSN 0731-3527