UK Libraries Helps 'Reimagine Russia’s Realms'

by Whitney Hale

As the University of Kentucky College of Arts and Sciences continues stamping its world-travel passport after its successes with the Year of South Africa and Year of China, UK Libraries is joining them as they focus on Russia and the former Soviet Republics. UK students, faculty, staff, and the Lexington community are all invited to "Reimagine Russia’s Realms" with year-long events throughout 2012-13 beginning with a kick-off event 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27.

The kick-off will feature a presentation by subject librarian Gordon Hogg on the history of UK Libraries’ Scott Soviet Collection, which will include an introduction to the Scotts' propaganda posters, as well as a kind of travelogue through many years examining the development and meaning of the various flags representing, in turn, Russia, the Soviet Union and its republics, and the nations of the post-Soviet era. Hogg is the UK Libraries academic liaison for Russian and Eastern studies and director of the Special Collections Library. The kick-off program will take place in the second-floor rotunda of the William T. Young Library, home of the Scott/Greenslade Collection of World War II and Cold War Soviet materials.

Hogg's talk will touch on the background and UK’s acquisition of the Scott Collection, which—at more than 13,000 volumes, mostly in Russian—constitutes one of the largest single gifts to the university's collections. Before coming to UK, this massive resource resided in the Virginia home of William F. and Harriet Fast Scott just outside Washington, D.C., where they settled after long government service as military attachés and analysts, primarily in the Soviet Union over the years from the early 1960s to the 1980s. Here, they conducted the research for their lectures to elite classes and strategic seminars—some reaching up to the highest levels of the U.S. defense establishment—and wrote extensive articles and bibliographies, drawing on resources largely unavailable outside the walls of their house.

Sovietology students and researchers at universities and research centers in the D.C. area (and beyond) were welcomed into this rich private library, including former UK political science professor Stuart Kaufman, who in 2001 alerted then-UK librarian Paul Willis that the Scotts had expressed an interest in donating their library here, due to their Kentucky connections in Meade County and to UK.

To hear a podcast by Hogg on the Scott Collection, visit the UK College of Arts and Sciences' Year of Russia page at http://russia.as.uky.edu/.

The Scotts’ collection of Soviet propaganda posters includes striking large-scale images featuring the work of some noted graphic artists, as well as rare Soviet military training packets which give great insight into the preparation (and often indoctrination) of new recruits, career officers and school children.

To augment the year-long display of flags in the Young Library atrium, Hogg will trace the path of the powerful national, political, and ethnic design and symbolism employed by Russia and its successors in the various banners put forth over several centuries.

In addition to Hogg's lecture, UK Libraries is planning a number of exhibits in conjunction with the Year of Russia. The flags of Russia and its now-independent neighbors already hang in the atrium, where they will remain for the fall and spring semester. A display of Soviet military poster images, and a virtual display of postcards from the Russian Empire at the turn of the 20th century will begin in the late fall/early spring semester. The posters will be on display in Core 1 of the Hub and the virtual display will run on the video windows in the Hub.

UK Libraries has also created a research guide to library materials that support the study of Russia’s realm and a website describing all of the library activities in support of Reimagining Russia’s Realms.

The Passport to the World initiative is sponsored by the A&S Advisory Board.

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