By Jolande E. Goldberg
Library of Congress
Name of Traveler: Jolande E. Goldberg
Position Title: Librarian / Law Classification Specialist
Service Unit: Library Services
Division: Cataloging Policy & Support Office (CPSO)
Dates in Travel Status: October 9 to October 11, 2006
Name of City and State: Bucharest, Romania
Purpose of Travel:
Investigated the legal holdings of the National Library and the Bucharest University/Central Library and Law Library. Investigated at the Library of the Romanian Supreme Court of Justice (Inalta Curte de Casatie si Justitie) the legal holdings. Discussed current status of legal periodical publishing and exchange of such materials. Explored the digitization policies with regard to rare materials (i.e. national treasures) at the National Library and Bucharest University/Central Library.
I accompanied my husband Dr. Lawrence Goldberg, U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), who participated for NSF in the International Advisory Board (IAB) on Romanian Research, Development, and Infrastructure Strategy, under the auspices of the Ministry of Education and Research/National University Research Council, held in Bucharest. I had used my contacts with colleagues in Bucharest through my International Association of Law Libraries (IALL) affiliation, as well as my husband's contact with the Ministry of Education and Research, to arrange several library visits. Upon arrival at the hotel, I received a fully developed agenda for the three days, prepared by the Ministry of Education and Research, who also provided me with a translator (Ms. Madalina Tureatca) and transportation.
A. IAB Meeting.
I had the privilege of attending with my husband the opening session and working dinner of the IAB. The meeting took place at the UNESCO European Center for Higher Education housed in a lovely city palace. The discussions by the IAB, whose recommendations will be made to the Romanian legislature, aim at restructuring the funding of scientific and technical research and facilities, in conjunction with developing a strong industrial infrastructure that can provide stable working environments for the next generation of young scientists and engineers. The issues discussed here, which I encountered elsewhere during my visits, were of great national concern: namely, to secure and settle the skills and talents of the coming generation in the country, thus undercutting the emigration to more prosperous foreign markets. Needless to say, the country looks not only towards the European Union (of which Romania will be a member in early 2007) but also to the United States.
B. Ministry of Education and Research
The invitation to a meeting by the Secretary of State, Gabriella Pasztor, Ministry of Education and Research, attended also by Carmen Daniela Bitir-Istrate, Counselor for Library Affairs, was clearly based on a strong interest and desire to establish close cooperation and exchange with Library of Congress. Questions were: is exchange of library professionals possible? I pointed to earlier Soros-funded study groups, as well as to a more structured approach through participation in LC's cooperative programs.
The second point of discussion was cooperative digitization, involving holdings in institutions across the country (i.e. not only Bucharest). Digitization is envisioned to provide broader access to Romania's cultural heritage.
C. Supreme Court of Justice.
Law Library and Faculty/Central Library. University of Bucharest
At the Romanian Supreme Court (Inalta Curte de Casatie si Justitie), I was received by Judge Constantin Branzan, who also had invited the director of the library and legal staff. The library staff had already prepared on my request a list of current and important legal serial publications. The reason is that publishing of certain legal materials is predominantly in series or serial form, while - as I understand - current acquisitions of Romanian legal materials by LC focus more on monographic literature.
My host, Dr. Branzan, pointed out that the Court's collections are still void of American legal literature, a prominent part of modern legal reasoning. He considered such materials as absolutely necessary for comparative research in today's decision making process, which tends to base itself on American concepts, especially in the areas of economy, corporation and trust law, and the regulatory aspects of industry and trade.
Dr. Branzan was wondering what it would take to establish a viable exchange of legal and governmental documents.
I received from Dr. Branzan all the issues of the Official Revista, newly published since 2005 by the Court, and a current edition of all decisions of the Court (which I will turn over to LC). I also agreed to forward to US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor a copy of the Revista de Drept Public, which contains the review of her book, The Majesty of the Law: Reflections of a Supreme Court Justice.
After a tour of the Supreme Court Library, Dr. Branzan accompanied me and my escort/translator (in the official black and chauffeured limousine!) to the University of Bucharest/Central Library-Law Library, where he had a meeting arranged with the director of the Law Library and faculty, Laurentiu Stan, who gave an historic account of the library and a tour, alluding especially to the fantastic collection effort of Queen Beatrice of the Netherlands: under her auspices, 10 railroad cars of books arrived in Bucharest and were gifted to Romanian institutions in a ceremony attended by the Queen.
Then I was escorted to the National Gallery for the remainder of the afternoon (ca. 2 hours) to view the works of Romanian artists, an enormous collection covering several centuries of European painting, deplorably very little known now in the West; rare and beautiful, some were very stark and the modern period very political. One recalls that the Da Da Movement started in Bucharest before ending up in Zurich and Paris, and of course that for a long time, Bucharest was considered the Paris of Eastern Europe, the Bucuresti cityscape resembling grand Parisian avenues and boulevards, lined with palatial buildings.
D. National Library of Romania
For my two visits of the Romanian National Library (Biblioteca Nationala) in an old city palace, the assigned official host (Mr. Emil Tudor of the Research-Development Department) took us first to the General Manager of the Library, Maria Raducu. Over a cup of Turkish coffee, we discussed the Library's brief history, current state of construction and digital policies. Founded in 1953 with collections over 13 million items pulled together from different institutions and libraries throughout the country, the library has a large rare component and digital efforts aiming at access and preservation of rare sources are funded by the World Bank. So far, 1,000 items have been fully digitized, based on internal preference, as part of the Institute of Cultural Memory, and will eventually be on the Internet (jpeg, unfortunately not indexed). There is great interest in digital cooperation. The new large library building remains unfinished for some time now for lack of funding.
In the following meetings with Victor Dutescu (Head of Processing Dept.) and Luminita Gruia (Head of Information/Reference Dept.), we discussed cataloging policy: currently AACR2 and MARC 21; Classification is UDC with (recent) correlation to DDC; in Spring 2007, Rameau will be adopted, although LCSH is viewed as the preferred subject list (more logical, Rameau places too much emphasis on political science, etc.). In the end, it was a political decision because of the multilingual nature of Rameau and the terminological relation to DDC.
I bought from the Library a beautifully produced book of "Ex libris" plates, reproduced from Romanian artists' plates (mostly 19th, but also 20th century up to World War II) or found in library collections.
E. Central Library of the University of Bucharest
My visit to the Central Library of the University of Bucharest (Biblioteca centrala universitara din Bucuresti) began with a festive inauguration and reception of the Students Library/Faculty of Foreign Languages and Literature.
I was introduced to the Rector of the University and its faculty for conversation over champagne (picture op!). Following the reception, Mircea Regnala, the Director General of the Central Library, showed me the stunning new Library building with state-of-the-art electronic facilities for students. The building is still physically connected to the original palatial library of 1895 (restoration near completion). In his office, we discussed digitization policy, which aims currently at preservation: the Library lost more than 500,000 rare volumes in a fire during the recent "revolution" (called a tragedy for Romanian cultural heritage). He would love to cooperate with LC, in the exchange of professionals as well as materials. After our initial conversation, he invited other directors of the Library (Collection Development and Classification) who were among those very interested in LC acquisition conventions and exchange procedures.
Mircea presented me with a beautiful recent publication on the history of the Central Library with an illustrated bibliography, which I will turn over to LC to be added to the collection.
During my visit to the descriptive and subject cataloging divisions, I collected basically the same information as in the National Library. They also apply AACR2, MARC21, enrich records by TOCs and have a CIP program similar to ours. Index terms are assigned traditionally by 8 subject specialists. The Central Library might adopt Rameau as well (although LCSH is the preferred tool); but at this point, the Library is in a holding pattern "until it is better understood what will happen with LCSH" (after the unsettling fate of LCSH was discussed in the professional press). I tried my best to assure everyone that LCSH will not be abandoned, and to clarify the current thinking.
It was a very gratifying experience, with spirited discussions, good ideas, and warm and hospitable people on every level who were always ready to cooperate and accommodate.
One last remark: except for one instance, most colleagues I met spoke English with various degrees of fluency.
Note: See The Final Pics for a photo from Jolande's journey.