Duke University Library's consortial responsibilities vis-à-vis other institutional members of the Triangle Research Library Network (TRLN), and the interests and support of Duke’s faculty, have laid the basis for several significant collections in Russian, Eurasian, and East European studies, particularly in Russian visual culture, Polish studies, and Soviet and post-Soviet film and media studies.
Russian Visual Culture
The library’s extensive holdings of visual, graphic, and textual materials on Russian visual culture complement the unique collection of 20th-century Russian art held by the Nasher Art Museum (formerly the Duke University Museum of Art). Among other treasures, this collection includes:
Lilly Library’s holdings of early Soviet films (1930s-50s)
David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library’s holdings of original Soviet propaganda posters, Soviet-era postcards, and travelers’ photographs of the Soviet Union, including the most complete run in the country of the illustrated anti-religious journal Atheist at the Workbench (Bezbozhnik u stanka, 1923-1931)
Nasher Museum’s 200 plus modernist, non-conformist paintings, Soviet posters, and a rare, original edition of Vladimir Mayakovskii’s For the Voice (Dlia golosa, 1923), a collection of poetry designed and illustrated by El Lissitzky.
Although these materials are physically scattered across campus, a proposed digitization initiative is currently underway to make sure that these items are readily accessible to scholars, students, and the general public alike. Even now, however, the breadth of Duke University’s collection of materials on 20th-century Russian visual culture surpasses most of the other regional repositories and serves as an important resource for scholars and students from the Southeastern United States and beyond.
Duke's responsibilities as a founding institutional member of the Triangle Research Libraries Network, and the interests and support of the faculty of the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures (now the Department of Slavic and Eurasian Studies), have also laid the basis for a solid Polish collection. Duke University’s institutional commitment to collecting in Polish dates to the late 1950s, when the library joined TRLN and divided collecting responsibilities with other member libraries. In the 1960s and 1970s Duke’s Polish collection was further enhanced with acquisitions funded by the Library of Congress; and, most recently, by the purchase of a collection of over 2,000 books on Polish literature (most of them Polish imprints of and about modern Polish poetry, published roughly between 1950 and 1980) from the estate of Professor Magnus J. Kriński, who taught Polish language and literature and served as the chair of Duke’s Slavic Department from 1966 to 1987. The library and interested Slavic faculty continue to seek donors to endow a book fund that will allow Duke University to maintain and expand its Polish studies collection. This project not only advances Duke University’s longstanding consortial obligation, but also seeks to institutionalize Duke’s position as a major U.S. center for the study of both Polish culture and the history and culture of the Polish emigration in the United States.
The field of Russian and East European film studies is the other area of strength at Duke University library that deserves special mention. In support of a growing interest in the medium of film, Duke has invested in a rapidly growing collection of Soviet and post-Soviet motion pictures, some of which, such as the Soviet feature films of the 1930s-50s acquired from the archives of the Soviet Ministry of Culture in Moscow, are frequently not available elsewhere. All titles in Duke's collection of film and videos are available for in-library use or for borrowing by Duke University students, faculty, and staff as well as those individuals who are affiliated with an institutional member of TRLN. More specific information on Duke's Film and Video Circulation Policies can be found on the Lilly Library website.
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