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Information for Social Change

Information for Social Change

"an activist organisation that examines issues of censorship, freedom and ethics amongst library and information workers..."
 

ISC 9. Libraries and Information Provision in Contemporary Russia

by Agatha Haun German-Russian Exchange

St. Petersburg Centre for Gender Issues.

Address: Russia 195196 St. Petersburg, Stakhanovstev St. 13, room 407, Tel, fax: +7 812 528 18 30, e-mail: pgciat symbolsisters.spb.ru, director: Olga Gennadievna Lipovskaya, librarian, Irina Dmitrievna Merenko, open Tues., Wed, Fri, Sat; materials on Russian and foreign gender research, human rights, independent women's organisations, all other aspects of women's lives (health issues, history, violence against women, stereotypes and deviation, et.) holdings: over 2000 books, videos, legal materials /documents, periodical publications, audio recordings from seminars and conferences. Materials in Russian, English, German, French, Turkish, Portuguese. The St. Petersburg Centre for Gender Issues, founded in 1992 with support from a grant from the German foundation "Frauen Anstiftung", maintains a library/archive. The main goal of the archive is to collect information on women's organisations, feminism and gender research and to make it available to the general public. Materials are obtained both by purchaing from publishers and stores as well as through private donations. Many of the materials can be borrowed; there are copy services available for other documents. The archive, as well as the centre as a whole, is open to the public; the primary users of the archive are independent researchers and university students. The centre is supported by the Heinrich Boell Foundation, and maintains connections with analogous centres for gender research in Moscow and Kharkiv (Ukraine). The next project that the archive staff plans to embark on is a computerized database of its holdings. As the search for material on these topics is highly labour-intensive in Russian libraries, the archive staff are interested in co-operating with western libraries and archives that have more systematic methods of locating materials. They are always interested in developing new relationships for exchange.

Archive of the Organisation Memorial

Address, Russia, 193194 St. Petersburg, a/ya 199, fax/tel: +7 812 246 19 28, e-mail: memscpat symbolglas.apc.org, director: Veniamin Iofe, staff, 1 librarian, 2 archive workers, open Tues, Sat. 11:00-18:00, subjects: political repression in the USSR (history), the history of prisons and labour camps in the USSR, collection of 4000 books, 2000 volumes from personal collections, 1300 samizdat documents, materials are in Russian, English, French, and German. The Memorial centre, St. Petersburg, originated from a citizens' initiative with the financial support of the Soros Foundation. It offers a reading room, help in compiling bibliographies and a catalogue of the victims of repression. Therefore, a very diversified public comes to the archive: from researchers and academics through journalists to students. Since the materials unfortunately cannot be lent out, a copy machine is available. A large part of the collection was assembled from personal donations or gifts from publishers. The most important objecives are to extend the collection and to establish a bibliographic data base in the archive's two areas of emphasis. The archive works in close contact with the Memorial branch in Moscow. The library can always use help in finding and copying subject-related books, articles and archives in Europe and the USA. In addition the employees of the library are interested in an extension of relations with partners in the West (exhibitions, publications, etc.).

NGO Development Centre library (resource centre).

Address 191186 St. Petersburg Ulitsa Malaya Konyushennaya, 5, PO Box - a/ya 134, librarian Anna Klyotsina, e-mail ndcat symbolspb.org.ru (telephone +7 812 325 89 13 (14) ) The Centre supports similar institutions in St. Petersburg and northwest Russia by offering different types of services, advice on bookkeeping, fund-raising, organisational development, for example, resolution of internal conflicts and public relations work.

The German-Russian Exchange

The GRE was established in 1992 and works now in Berlin, St. Petersburg, Volgograd, Novosibirsk and Perm. The GRE promotes democratisation in Russia, by supporting non-profit organisations, which work in such areas as social work, youth work, aid to the elderly, rehabilitation of former drug addicts, help for street children, help for the homeless, environmental protection, women's organisations, help for the disabled and mentally ill, culture, education, human rights, aid to refugees. In addition, the GRE arranges traineeships for Germans in Russia and for Russians in Germany, primarily people who wish to serve in non-profit organisations, especially in social work; holds seminars, conferences, study trips in Germany and Russia, concerning subjects such as refugees in Russia, non-profit organisations in the democratisation process. The GRE also organises internships for Russian journalists, in cooperation with the sister/cities programme. The GRE is supported is supported by various foundations, te European Union's TACIS Democracy Programme, and donations. In 1997, the GRE in St. Petersburg was reorganised and the former Russko-Nemetskii Obmen became the Centre for the Development of Non- governmental Organisations. The consultations, seminars, etc. have continued. Now the Centre regularly seeks new contacts with foreign organisations, as partners for Russian non-profit organisations, for joint projects, information exchange, and exchanges of visits.

The library was established in 1994 with funding from the Robert Bosch Foundation, the Foundation "Internationes", and extensive help from the Consulate-General of Germany in St. Petersburg. In the beginning Stefanie Schiffer (now executive director of the GRE in Berlin) and Frank Fabel (director of the GRE office in St. Petersburg until 1997) worked there. Then the main objective was to make it possible for non-profit organisations, especially in the field of social work, environmental protection, and human rights, to obtain information about social work, human rights work, environmental protection, etc., in the West. They wanted to collect such information in a library, organise it, and make it available to the public.

Social work is a new profession in Russia. It came into existence practically simultaneously with the social problems at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union. In 1989 the Faculty for Sociology opened at the University of St. Petersburg and in 1990 the first students began the study of social work. In 1992 the first systematic support for the self-help initiatives in the field of social work. GRE was also actively involved. The library is one of the first of its kind in all of Russia.. The aim is to help the non-profit organisations to gather information about how, why and what non-profit work in the West is done, and to make this information available.

Main subjects in the collection The library seeks to acquire the latest literature, periodicals, law texts, documents, newspaper cuttings, brochures, etc., to classify them, and make them accessible. There are materials in Russian, German, and English. At present there are approximately 300 German books, and 150-200 in Russian, as well as some in English in the library, plus several hundred items from the realm of so-called "grey literature", newspaper cuttings and brochures. The main part of the collection are books donated by the Robert Bosch Foundation, the Foundation Internationes, and the German Consulate-General in St. Petersburg. Materials are also given to the library by Russian and foreign non-profit organisations, social service agencies, seminar participants, sponsors and partners abroad. German and Russian books are registered in systematic and alphabet catalogues and card files, that means that there are German and Russian indices, alphabetically arranged according to authors and subjcts. Subjects include, among others, foreign policy, international communication, geriatric work, therapy and rehabilitation of drug addicts, women, health, youth and the family, cultural geography (especially Russia, the former Soviet Union, German), the European Union, homelessness, the environment, ecology, organisational development, assistance in founding and developing an organisation, sociology, social pedagogy, education in the field of social pedagogy, the theory of social pedagogy, media, laws, human rights, etc. At the beginning of the work there was a project involving a team of translators who translated books and other materials into Russian for the library.

Access and equipment

One can read the various materials in the library, however, at present nothing is lent out, because in the early stages, some materials were lost in the lending process. There is a copy machine in the building. Copying one page costs 1 ruble. (A pound is worth about 30-40 roubles.) The library is in a room measuring approximately 50 square metres, with reading space for up to 10 readers. The library is open Monday through Friday 14:00-18:00. There is Internet access which can be used by arrangement with the librarian. There is also a data base with information about foundations which support non-profit work and social work. However, there is not a great deal of money to purchase new materials. When material is urgently needed, often (also unconventional) funds and ways are found to acquire them.

The Public

The readers are, for example, university and college students who are studying social work and similar fields, also representatives of non-profit,non-governmental organisations, as well as researchers from Europe and North America, who are interested in social work, and those who plan to establish a non-profit organisation. About 10-20 readers come per week; naturally. there are more during examination periods.

Other collections

There are other comparable collections in St. Petersburg, for example, the Centre for Gender Issues (which has information on women, sexuality, etc.) and the library and information centre of the human rights organisation Memorial (with emphasis on human rights, repression in the Soviet Union, the GULAG, samizdat literature, etc.) In northwest Russia there are about 20-25 other libraries in non-governmental organisations, some of them within support centres or development centers, as well as in Moscow and other cities. Ideas and hopes for the future The libraries do not work very closely together at present, but exchange information via telephone, e-mail and newsletters. The declared goal is to develop the library further. Consideration is given to ways the readers can be better served, because even though the library has numerous contacts within Russia, much still must be done to build up contacts abroad. They would like to learn more and gather more information about library work abroad, about ibraries, information centres, to visit libraries abroad, and exchange visits with foreign colleagues. Especially needed are the latest reference works about foundations in Europe, North America, and Japan, contacts with non-profit organisations and social service agencies, libraries and librarians (especially those in the area of social sciences), and their publications. Anna Klyotsina would be glad to establish contact with professional colleagues and NGO workers, and invites readers of this publication, and members of progressive librarians' organisations to exchange information, experience, and materials, and even to visit in St. Petersburg.

 

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