Michigan State University

Collection Development Policy Statement: Russia, Eastern Europe and Central Asia

Page Coordinator: Terri Miller Last updated: 10-25-2012

Purpose or Scope of Collection

  • A. Curricular/Research/Programmatic needs

    The Russian, East European and Central Asian collection at MSU supports instructional programs from the undergraduate to the doctoral level, the research of the faculty, and general information needs about the area.

    At the undergraduate level students may acquire a Certificate of Specialization in Russian and East European Studies, combining Russian language study with relevant courses in history, geography, political science, sociology, economics and/or philosophy. Doctoral programs are offered in the Department of History and Political Science, but no advanced degrees are offered in Slavic languages.  Russian and Polish are the only East European languages regularly taught at MSU, and Polish is not taught regularly.  Classes in Uzbek and Kazakh are now offered, though the teaching faculty are not tenured appointments.  Overall, the focus of teaching is on Russia, but faculty interests exist and are growing in Poland, Ukraine, and Central Asia. Study abroad programs in Hungary, Romania, Poland and Russia receive students annually. The study of the entire region in the context of the current economic, social and political transition is evident in much of the teaching and research.

  • B. History of the Collection

    The Russian language and literature program at MSU dates back to the end of the 1940s. Russian history courses have been taught since the early 1950s. Acquisition of materials related to Russian and East European studies started about the same time. Approval plans for Russian and other East European publications were initiated with Kubon and Sagner in the late 1960s.

    In 1988 the Russian approval plan with Kubon and Sagner was terminated in favor of firm ordering from Novye knigi. Orders were placed with Les Libres Etrangers in Paris. Two years later, in 1990, Les Livres Etrangers went bankrupt and MSU Library's outstanding Russian orders were transferred to Viktor Kamkin. From 1988 to 1993 the Library had an approval plan for émigré publications from Russica in New York: with the fall of the USSR, the need for this type of plan has ceased to exist.

    In 1995, the Kubon and Sagner East European plan was altered to include only Polish language books and continuations. In 1999 the Kubon and Sagner approval plan was canceled altogether because of poor coverage and the high cost of items relative to other companies. Now all items from Eastern Europe are purchased by firm order from a variety of vendors.

    In 1995 also a Russian approval plan was established with Russian Press Service that provides good coverage of Russia. The Russian plan is currently supplemented with materials purchased from EastView Publications in Minnesota, MIPP in Belarus and ATC Books out of Ann Arbor.

    The MSU Libraries received an endowment in 1991 for literature on the Baltic states (the Mira Kuze Endowment). A collaborative collection development agreement created with the University of Michigan Library in 1998 established that this endowment and other MSU Slavic funds would be used for Baltic materials in both English and the vernacular. In exchange, UM will collect more heavily in the area of the Balkan countries.

    With the demise of Russian Press Service in 2008, MSU has switched to approval plans with EastView Information Services for Russian, Ukrainian and books from the Baltics.  Serials are largely from Russia and now available electronically, also from EastView.  Some standing orders remain with MIPP and Kubon and Sagner.

    C. Existing strengths and emphases

    The focus of collecting Russian history has been the 19th and 20th centuries. These periods are well covered by secondary literature, including major scholarly journals in both English and Russian. Medieval and Early Modern Russian history is covered selectively in Russian but more comprehensively in English.

  • In Literature, the focus had been on classic 19th and 20th century Russian literature and contemporary award-winning authors (particularly since 1995). Émigré literature and criticism continues to be important. Literature is collected both in Russian and English (when available).

    Social and political sciences are well covered in English; more selectively in the vernacular. Studies of transitional development are emphasized as are sociological studies. Special efforts are made to collect relevant statistical data and particularly census data. Recent political history is well covered in both English and Russian.

    The focus of collecting in Eastern European history has been on the Habsburg Empire and the 20th century in general, particularly the literature of the collapse of the Soviet system. More recently collection has refocused on major histories of the countries of Eastern Europe and revisions of history published in the most recent years. An effort is being made to collect all history in English in this area; more selective are the collecting in Polish and Ukrainian.

    In Eastern European Literature, The MSU Library has pockets of depth in Polish literature and historical collections of Hungarian and Romanian literature. East European literature has seen a revival in the past decade that is reflected in this collection. Emphasis is now being placed on acquiring major authors of Poland and Ukraine in the vernacular as well as in English. For other countries, the emphasis at this time is on works in translation or parallel texts.

    Electronic resources for this area have been collected only recently and in small numbers due to lack of continuing resources. The most important indexes to Slavic publications are now held electronically. Recently the Library began a subscription to a Russian online newspaper database, which provides improved access to many more titles and a searchable archive. Most newspaper print subscriptions have been cancelled since this acquisition, but a few particularly important titles and titles that are not available online are still retained.

    As of the mid-2000s, a strong emphasis has been placed on acquiring films from Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia.  While the focus is on feature films, some documentary films are also being acquired.