Notes from the Chair

Brian Vetruba, University of Minnesota, ESS Chair, 2022-2023

Dear Colleagues,

Once again, I’m amazed at all of the work ESS members have accomplished this past year. Looking back at the fall and winter, ESS held 6 virtual discussion group meetings and 8 virtual committee meetings through which we advanced the section on a number of fronts. For example, we revised and approved the section’s Governance Procedures Documents; many thanks to Katie Gibson, Hélène Huet, and Milan Pohontsch for assisting me with drafting the revised version. The Communications and Publications Committee has recruited editors for our research guides and the Web Team has continued to clean up the ESS website and ingest SEES content into it. Thanks to our generous donors, the Web Team has hired an accessibility consultant to examine our website and create documentation for us this summer. The Membership Committee has organized an in-person reception at the Alliance Française on Sunday, June 25, 5:30-7:30pm. Membership has also created a promotional ESS postcard which will make its debut at ALA Annual. Many thanks to Kelly Omodt for her excellent graphic design skills. And much appreciation goes to the Newsletter Committee for pulling this newsletter issue together.  

Read my full notes here.

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Retirements and In Memoriam

Agnes Haigh Widder will be retiring from Michigan State University after 44 years. Her work with and for ESS has been much appreciated over the years and her contributions will be missed. We wish her a very happy retirement! Read the full article here.

On March 12, 2023, Sandra Levy, Associate Slavic Librarian emerita at the University of Chicago Library, departed from this life at the age of seventy-two after a courageous battle against that most cruel of diseases, ALS. With her passing, the world of Slavic librarianship has lost one of its most vibrant and beloved members. Read the full tribute here.

Meet the National Libraries: Connecting librarians and scholars from around the world

The first several months of the COVID-19 pandemic showed library professionals’ great flexibility and creativity in meeting their patrons’ needs, as well as addressing challenges of isolation, uncertainty, and limitations. Services and sharing mechanisms were disturbed due to closures, restricted access, and lack of up-to-date information on operation capabilities at libraries around the world. As an attempt to bring together scholars, librarians, and the general public, the Slavic Reference Service at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, introduced an online series, Meet the National Libraries. The aim of the series is to feature one national library at a time and to provide a platform for national library representatives to share information on ongoing projects, updates, best practices, and policies at their respective institutions. Check out the full article here.

Reference Work in Modern Greek and Albanian at the Library of Congress

I joined the Library of Congress as the reference librarian for Modern Greek and Albanian, now part of the Latin American, Caribbean, and European Division, in 2021. 

Suffice it to say that during my long graduate studies, in which I learned to read Bosnian and Serbo-Croatian, Modern Greek, and Turkish, I never thought that I would be doing this kind of work. I earned my Ph.D. in modern European history at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 2016. My doctoral thesis looked at the emergence of women in the public sphere via the intersections of American Protestantism and local activism in the present-day Greek and Albanian borderlands between 1890-1930—hence my combined language expertise. Between 2016-2018, I directed Albanian Studies at the School for Slavonic and East European Studies at University College, London, and subsequently, taught advanced placement European history to (sometimes) eager fourteen-and-fifteen year-olds on Zoom at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. I have had previous stints at library work, but nothing prepared for me the pleasant surprise that there would be a job in reference services for Greek and Albanian at the largest library in the world! Read the full article here.

Photos by Richard D. Hacken