Society Members Attend a Meeting of the Ukrainian Heritage Consortium at Harvard

December 13, 2019

Lev Chaban, Jurij Dobczansky, Halyna Hryn, and Marko Slyz participated in the sixth conference of the Ukrainian Heritage Consortium of North America (UHCNA) hosted by Harvard University’s Ukrainian Research Institute (HURI) on October 17-20, 2019. The UHCNA is a voluntary group that coordinates an exchange of information, fosters friendships and cooperation among Ukrainian cultural heritage institutions and professionals in the US and Canada through biannual meetings. UHCNA members were welcomed at the Institute’s Omeljan Pritsak Memorial Library by faculty members, university librarians, research fellows and associates.

Olha Aleksic, the Petro Jacyk Bibliographer for Ukrainian Collections at Harvard, organized a fascinating three-day program focused on library collections and research. Presentations on the vast library system at Harvard and its diverse collections of Ukrainian and other Slavic publications included photos and ephemera related to social movements. Experts described how to curate collections in the digital age and how best to serve users of these collections. The group visited the Weissman Preservation Center to observe restoration and preservation operations firsthand. A special highlight of the day was a presentation at the Widener Library of selected Ukrainian rare books and manuscripts.

Marko Slyz described the challenges of downsizing the Society’s library collection and creating a new online catalog. Recently, Lev Chaban, and Marko Slyz have made substantial progress in reorganizing and maximizing space in the library. Their effort led to an unexpected opportunity by offering duplicates and out-of-scope materials to university libraries and the Library of Congress thereby enhancing their collections. Plans are underway to donate the remaining publications to select research and public libraries in Ukraine.

Jurij Dobczansky, chair of the Society’s Archives and Library Committee and senior cataloging specialist at the Library of Congress, demonstrated how establishing authority records for subject headings and proper names promotes Ukrainian scholarship and indeed, cements the very notion of Ukrainian identity and nationhood. He encouraged colleagues to focus their library collections to supplement and enhance their museum and archival holdings, rather than acquire books indiscriminately. In light of the unique holdings of UHCNA member institutions, cooperative cataloging of their resources appears possible in the near future.

A detailed account of the UHCNA’s sixth conference appeared in the December 1 issue of the Ukrainian Weekly.

By Jurij Dobczansky