Our collection


History of Collection

The University of Toronto Library's Slavic and East European collection developed steadily when the University established the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures in 1949. The collection grew more rapidly during the 1960s and 1970s after the Centre for Russian and East European Studies (presently the Centre for European, Russia, and Eurasian Studies) was established in 1963. In the late 1970s, the 1980s and 1990s, the establishment of Chairs in Hungarian Studies (1978), Ukrainian Studies (1980), Estonian Studies (1986), and Polish History (1995), provided further impetus to collecting in these respective areas. The Library received many large and small gift collections to support these new and existing programs, as well as a number of generous grants for book purchases. Soon after the establishment in 1965 of the Book Selection Department, as the Collection Development Department was called until 1991, a systematic plan for the development of the Slavic and East European collection was initiated with the appointment in 1967 of a Slavic Book Selector. The plan included the creation of the first of what are today nine approval plans (known at the University of Toronto as Dealer Selection Orders or DSOs) for the acquisition of current publications in Slavic and East European languages.

Scope and Size of Collection

Presently, the Slavic and East European collection numbers over 600,000 volumes. The annual rate of acquisition of books in the Slavic and East European vernacular languages is between 8,000 and 12,000 volumes, acquired through purchase or as gifts. The distribution of holdings by language is roughly: 50% Russian, 15% Polish, 10% Czech and Slovak, 7% Ukrainian, 5% Hungarian, 5% Croatian and Serbian, and the remainder Bulgarian, Romanian, and other Slavic and East European languages.

New Acquisitions

The bimonthly displays of selected new Slavic acquisitions in the Petro Jacyk Resource Centre represent just a small percentage of what the Library acquires on a regular basis. For a more complete picture of newly acquired and cataloged titles in the University of Toronto Library—both new publications and new additions of retrospective publications—explore LibrarySearch. There you can limit searches for new material (last week, last month, last three months) by library, subject and/or language using the filters.

Special Collections

The University of Toronto Libraries house a number of special collections in print, manuscript, and in microform. Many 18th- to early 20th-century rare books and revolutionary era newspapers from Imperial Russia are available in microform in the Media Commons, as are Soviet archival documents and publications from the periods of Lenin, Stalin, and Khrushchev. In Media Commons, one can also consult the hundreds of newspapers and journals published in Western Ukraine (Galicia, Bukovina, Transcarpathia) during the former Austro-Hungarian Empire.

The rare book and manuscript collections are particularly strong in 20th-century Czech, Slovak, Polish, Russian, and Ukrainian culture and history.

We have fabulous book collections of the Czech and Russian avant-garde movements at the Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. The Fisher Library also holds books assembled by H. Gordon Skilling on the political development of Czechoslovakia from the 1930s to the 1968 uprising, and documents relating to the Charter 77 human rights group. Related material can be found in the “Petlice” collection of works in Czech and Slovak. The Jazz Section of the Czechoslovak Union of Musicians collection comprises works on art, music, and culture.

Materials relating to independence movements in other east-central European countries include: NSZZ Solidarność, a collection of publications by members of the Solidarity and other workers’ movements in Poland; the Igor Belousovitch collection of Russian samizdat and independent press; and the Peter J. Potichnyj collection of books on insurgency and counter-insurgency in Ukraine from 1941 to 1954.

Also worth noting are the Karol Godlewski collection of 16th- to 18th-century books, pamphlets, manuscripts, and illustrations related to Poland; the Valentyna and Michael Pashkievich collection of books and periodicals published by Belarusian refugees living in displaced persons’ camps in West Germany after the Second World War; and the John Luczkiw collection of pre-1950 Ukrainian Canadiana and post-war Ukrainian refugee publications.

For more information on special collections, with links to finding aids, visit: http://pjrc.library.utoronto.ca/special-collections.