By Bogdan Horbal ©1996 all rights reserved.
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THE NEW YORK PUBLIC LIBRARY AND ITS SLAVIC AND BALTIC DIVISION
The idea of creating the New York Public Library developed in 1895, when the library of John Jacob Astor (1763-1848), which included a great number of rare books, was unified with the library of James Lenox (1800-1880). A donation of 15,000 volumes from the library of Samuel Jones Tilden (1814-1886), together with $2,000, 000 for the new library, made the foundation possible. In 1901, eleven public libraries from all over the city joined The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundation. The first site of the Library (Lower Manhattan) soon turned out to be too small and necessitated construction of new home for the Library (completed 1911). The building, which is a national landmark, was located at the corner of 5th Avenue and 42nd Street. The main reading room of the Library can accommodate 800 people.
The New York Public Library is a private institution which serves readers on a non-paying basis. It is responsible for operating of 4 research centers (with 39 million items, including 12 million books) and 82 branch libraries (10,5 million items, including 5,9 million books) and is governed by a 43-member Board of Trustees. The Research Libraries depend heavily on private contributions. The Branch Libraries are primarily supported by the City and State of New York. The acquisition of materials is done in a variety of ways. The library mostly buys (sometimes also exchanges) books. The growth of the collection is also a direct result of valuable gifts.
Numbering over 312,857 titles (approximately 363,000 physical volumes), 1,160 current periodicals, and 14,294 microforms covering the humanities, social sciences, and selectively other sciences, the Slavic and Baltic Division of The New York Public Library houses the single largest component of the Research Library's vernacular-language collection of materials relating to Russia, the former Soviet Union, Eastern Europe, and the Baltic states, and to the various Emigre communities outside the homelands. It is estimated that upwards of 250,000 titles of materials relating to the Slavic, Eastern European, and Baltic lands and peoples, in Western and other non-Slavic languages are held by other units of the Research Libraries, and in some units of the Branch Libraries.
Access to the collection of The Baltic and Slavic Division can be obtained through a revised (1974), enlarged (44 volumes) edition of the Dictionary Catalog of The Slavonic Collection (Boston: G.K. Hall). This catalog contains records for materials acquired and described by the Library in the period 1898-1972. The Research Libraries' general retrospective, pre-1972 collections are accessible through the 800-volume Dictionary Catalog of The Research Libraries of The New York Public Library, 1911-1971 (G.K. Hall. 1979). In 1972, the Library adopted computerized cataloging. There is also: Bibliographic Guide to Soviet and East European Studies, vol.1, Boston, 1979-present (presently numbering 38 volumes). It provides comprehensive annual subject bibliographies which bring together publications cataloged by the Research Libraries of the NYPL and the Library of Congress.
Carpatho-Ruthenica refers to all materials in whatever language or form that deal in some way with Carpatho-Rusyns, or which are produced by individuals working within a Carpatho-Rusyn historical and cultural environment. The Slavic and Baltic Division possesses a rich collection of titles concerning this Eastern Slavic group of approximately 1.2 million in Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, Hungary, Romania, former Yugoslavia and Croatia. It is believed that approximately six hundred thousand Carpatho-Rusyns live in North America. At present, Carpatho-Rusyns living in the homelands are considered either part of the Ukrainian nationality or a separate, distinct nationality. Until 1945, Carpatho-Rusyn history developed along lines distinct from Ukrainian territories. After the Second World War this unique historical development has been still in evidence among Carpatho-Rusyns in former Yugoslavia (present day Serbia and Croatia), and the United States. Since the fall of communism in the Eastern Europe 1989) Carpatho-Rusyn national life has undergone an energetic rebirth in Poland, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Hungary.
Carpatho-Rusyns are described by several different names. The most popular among them are: Rusyns, Rusnaks, Ruthenians, Lemkos, Boykos, Hutsuls, Carpatho-Russians, Ugro-Rusyns, Ugro-Russians, Carpatho-Ukrainians. The Dictionary Catalog of The Slavonic Collection includes the following subject classifications: Carpatho-Russian Language, Carpatho-Russian Literature, Carpatho-Russians, Ruthenia and Ruthenians. Within these classifications there are several subclassifications. These subject classifications also incorporate and dovetail with works dealing with Galicia and Ukraine. Hence, they can also be found under subject classifications Ukrainians or Ukrainian Literature.
In this article, the collection will be divided into several parts. Some works perfectly fit the category in which they have been placed. Some of them, however, could possibly appear in at least two or more groups. The author is aware of this fact, but will not repeat the same publications in different categories because of the limitation of space.
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