Columbia Acquires Papers of Brodsky Translator & Biographer Lev Loseff

Columbia University’s Rare Book & Manuscript Library has acquired the papers of Lev Loseff (1937-1999), noted Russian émigré poet, literary critic, professor of Russian Literature and Language at Dartmouth College, and a lifelong friend and authoritative biographer of Nobel Prize Laureate Joseph Brodsky (1940-1996). 

This acquisition of about 40 linear feet (more than twenty-eight packing boxes) of manuscripts, poems, correspondence, photographs, autographed first editions, and subject files includes a plethora of Brodsky materials, and represents an important addition to the  already rich collection of Russian materials in the Bakhmeteff Archive of Russian and East European History and Culture.

Born Lev Lifshits, Loseff was the son of Vladimir Lifshits, a well-known Russian poet.  He graduated from the Leningrad State University and soon after started writing poetry for Russian children’s magazines. In order not to be confused with his father, he changed his name to Loseff. 

He immigrated to the U.S. in 1976, and spent several years in Ann Arbor working for the Ardis Publishing House while obtaining his American doctoral degree.  In 1979, he accepted a position at Dartmouth College where he worked until his death.  In America he published twelve  well-received collections of verse and fiction in Russian, as well as numerous works of literary criticism. 

Joseph Brodsky’s correspondence, drawings, typed and holograph manuscripts, and books with inscriptions cover the period 1969 to 2001.  Some of the photographs cover an even earlier period in Brodsky’s life in Soviet Russia.  The collection also includes legal papers relating to Joseph Brodsky’s will.

Lev Loseff’s correspondence with well known Russian émigré intellectuals including Sergei Dovlatov, Ivan Elagin, Konstantin Kuzminsky, Leonid Rzhevsky is complimented by his research materials on these significant representatives of Russian Diaspora.

A collection of this magnitude offers valuable information on Russian émigré literary circles and sources of Russian scholarship in the United States. The Loseff Collection will also enhance the research and outreach activities of both the Harriman Institute and the East European Studies Center, both recipients of recent NEH Summer Institute grants for the study of America’s Russophone and East Central European communities. The Loseff collection constitutes an important complement to Brodsky materials already held at the Beinecke Library, Yale University, The Russian National Library, St. Petersburg, and the Green Library, Stanford University.

The Library can provide users with limited access to the Loseff papers while they are being processed. Patrons should make an appointment by calling the Rare Book & Manuscript Library at 212-854-3986.

Trial access to MultiData Online database – Index to Arabic periodicals

Columbia University Libraries is considering subscription to an index to Arabic periodicals called MultiData Online. We have arranged a trial which runs through March 31, 2014.
MultiData Online database provides full text access and bibliographic citations indexes with a focus on political and socio-economic affairs in the Middle East. It includes news sources, periodical articles, bibliographic citations, and book reviews from Arabic newspapers and magazines. Selected newspapers and periodicals are available primarily in Arabic with some content available in English and French.

The database is divided into five components which can be searched together or separately :

  •     Full text of 40 daily and weekly newspapers (1994- ) ;
  •     Bibliographic citations for articles from over 250 Arabic periodicals published since 1920;
  •     Full text book reviews from more than 250 newspapers and magazines in the Arab world from 1998;
  •     Access to Index Arabicus* which includes citations from 42 Arabic periodicals published between 1870 and 1969;
  •     Index to theses submitted to 21 Lebanese institutions.

English and Arabic interfaces are available.  The database is available at:
(Access to this resource is available only to current faculty, staff and students of Columbia University)

Please send comments and evaluation remarks to

* Index Arabicus is a bibliography of Arabic articles modeled on Index Islamicus. It was compiled on cards in the 70's and converted into online database by the University of Imam al-Ouzai in Beirut.

Open Access in Latin America and Spain

Latin America and Spain are at the forefront of open access (OA) publishing. This may come as a surprise to the uninitiated, but Latin America and Spain have a long history of open access publishing and, in fact, Brazil’s Scientific Electronic Library Online (SciELO) and Spain’s DIALNET rank as the top two portals in the Ranking Web of World repositories.

Open access, generally means unrestricted access, usually online, to scholarly research. Open Access content comes in many forms and can include scholarly journal articles, theses, book chapters, as well as entire books. This content can reside in open access journals or in online repositories, such as Columbia University’s Academic Commons. Columbia University Libraries is a strong proponent of OA as evidenced by our 2011 Open Access Resolution and Open Access Week 2013 events.

Many Latin American institutions have historically struggled to afford expensive international journal subscriptions. Likewise, it was difficult for US libraries to reliably acquire Latin American scholarly journals for use by US scholars. As a result, US academic libraries collaborated with their peers in Latin America and the Caribbean to mutual benefit through extensive exchange programs. This approach had limited success in increasing scholarly communication. Digital open access initiatives have largely superseded these efforts.

Founded in Brazil in 1998, SciELO is now present in fifteen countries in Latin America, the Caribbean, Spain, Portugal and South Africa. Expect SciELO networks soon for Bolivia, Paraguay, and Uruguay. A distributed model, each country of the network administers content locally. Funding and other support generally come from national science councils and international organizations.

Open Access has greatly increased the scholarly impact factors of Latin American scholarly publications. Some of the keys to SciELO’s success include a multilingual interface and multilingual abstracts, as well as inclusion in visible initiatives like the Directory of Open Access Journals. In fact, Brazil is the second largest country represented in DOAJ after the United States.

Looking for OA Content? Search CLIO

CLIO, Columbia University Libraries’ discovery system incorporates many open access information sources, including the SciELO network, DIALNET, Revistas Científicas del CSIC (Spain) and more into our virtual collection.

To find out more about OA, I invite you to view this recent, informative webcast, sponsored by SPARC, an initiative of the Association of Research Libraries:

Webcast: Open Access Developments in Latin America (Nicholas Cop)
January 14, 2014

Human Rights Day 2013

On December 10th, 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Two years later the UN proclaimed December 10th as Human Rights Day. This day is commemorated throughout the world and calls attention to the ongoing work of promoting and protecting human rights. Columbia University Libraries has made a significant investment in supporting teaching, learning, and research related to human rights and related advocacy movements. Our Center for Human Rights Documentation & Research acquires unique primary resources, including the archives of several major human rights organizations. We have a network of subject specialist librarians who build excellent general collections of resources from around the world in many languages.

Some highlights our our collections: Human Rights organizational archives,  including the records of Human Rights Watch , Amnesty International USA, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Committee for Health in Southern Africa.


Notable individuals’ papers

  • Gay J. McDougall South Africa and Namibia Papers, which includes records of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law Southern Africa Project.  This collection documents Ms. McDougall’s work in coordinating the defense of political prisoners, and her work on South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission.  This collection is being processed.  Please check our Center’s website for updates on the availability of the collection for research.
  • Telford Taylor Papers, 1918-1998.  Taylor was a prominent lawyer who served as Counsel  for the Prosecution at the International and Nuremberg Military Tribunals.

Digital Collections:

Asian Film Online Trial

Columbia University Libraries now has an ongoing trial of Asian Film Online through December 31, 2013. We are considering purchase from Alexander Street Press. This is the result of a partnership between Asia Pacific Films and Alexander Street Press.

South Asian languages represented in this film streaming collection include:

Bengali – 23 films from Bangladesh and India, including directors such as Tanvir Mokammel, Aparna Sen, Bappaditya Bandopadhyay, Moinak Biswas, and others

Farsi – 57 films from Iran

Hindi – 45 films, including such directors as Basu Chatterjee, Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani, Saeed Akhtar Mirza, Sudhir Mishra, and others

Malayalam – 5 films, including one of my favorites, Adoor Gopalakrishnan’s Four Women  

Marathi – 2 films, including Amol Palekar’s The Raw Mango

Nepali – 5 films

Oriya – 2 films

Sinhala – 14 films from Sri Lanka, including portrayals of the social repercussions of the recent civil war on everyday life. Directors represented include Prasanna Vithanage, Dharmasena Pathiraja, Asoka Handagama, and others

Tamil – 1 film from India, and 1 from Sri Lanka

Telugu – 2 films

Asian Film Online offers a view of Asian culture as seen through the lens of the independent Asian filmmaker. Through a selection curated by film scholars and critics, viewers can explore the impact of globalization and urbanization on people’s everyday lives throughout the greater Asian region. Faculty and students engaged in area studies, anthropology, film studies, philosophy, geography, education, religion, gender studies, world literature, urban development, cross-cultural communication, journalism, social sciences, and humanities will benefit from exploring this rare collection of films that make silent voices heard.

Trove of Prokofiev Materials Comes to Columbia!

Columbia will soon become the home of the Serge Prokofiev Foundation's collection of scores, documents, and ephemera covering the years 1918-1938.

The collection is described in today's New York Times:

Presently held by Goldsmiths College, London, and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, ownership if the trove will be retained by the Foundation, with the understanding that it may be permanently given to the rare Book & Manuscript Library in five years.  The transfer of materials from London and Paris will begin November 1, and continue into 2014.

NEH Summer Institute Website Goes Live

The website for the 2014 NEH Summer Institute “America’s East Central Europeans: Migration & Memory,” scheduled for June 8-29, 2014, is now available at:

This website includes detailed information on the Institute, daily agenda, reading list, eligibility and application information.

The new website also includes the archived content, including videos of selected presentations, of the 2011 and 2013 NEH Summer Institutes.

Individuals interested in applying are welcome to contact Robert Davis at

Marathi Manuscripts Digitized

The Endangered Archives Programme at the British Library has added two new catalogs of digitized Marathi Manuscripts. The archival partner for this project, “Preserving Marathi Manuscripts and Making Them Accessible,” was the Marathi Manuscript Centre, Pune.

Project EAP023 includes digital images and a project description.

Project EAP248 includes digital images and a project description.

Government Gazettes of South Africa, 1910 to the present

Columbia University Libraries now subscribes, courtesy of Sabinet,  to digitized full text versions of South African government gazettes, from 1910 to the present.  All current Columbia faculty and students can access and search the three online collections (on or off campus).

Retrospective Gazettes of South Africa, 1910-1993

Government Gazettes of South Africa, January 1994 to present

Provincial Gazettes of South Africa, September 1995 to present

Lecture: How (and why) the Jews invented Hollywood

Columbia University Libraries is pleased to announce the annual Norman E. Alexander Lecture in Jewish Studies, featuring Neal Gabler, Senior Fellow at the Norman Lear Center at USC: "How (and why) the Jews invented Hollywood."  The lecture will take place on Wednesday, October 16 at the Skylight Room in the Faculty House (64 Morningside Drive, 4th Floor) at Columbia.  The lecture is scheduled to begin at 7 PM.