A Weekend in Photographs: a Confectionery Peak, a Bloody Lane, and Winding Up in WV.

Any and all opinions, thoughts, experiences, and photos represented in this blog are my own and do not represent the opinions, ideas, and core values of the European Division or the Library of Congress. This is my personal blog meant to document my experience working and living as an intern in Washington D.C.

“What are your plans for today?”
“Not sure, but probably I will find somewhere free to hike around.”
“You should go to Sugarloaf Mountain. It is about 45 minutes from you and is a pretty hike.”

And at this advice, I set off for a day of exploration. Although, I must say, I wish I had gone to a more preserved area of Sugarloaf Mountain. I decided to go off the beaten path in search for something a little more wild and only found a deforestation project. Not pictured here because it was somewhat ugly. I did not see much in terms of wild life even though I hiked for about 2 hours up the mountain. By the time I made my way back down I was slightly disappointed and headed off somewhere else in search of lunch and something historic.

I had seen several signs for Civil War trails during my driving Saturday morning and afternoon and decided on Antietam National Battlefield near Sharpsburg, MD which is where the “bloodiest day,” 17 September, 1862, of the Civil War took place. The silence there was deafening. Where men once volleyed cannon and speared one another with bayonets now lies a sea of wheat which ripples in the wind and is bathed in warm sunlight. A path which leads up the hill, lined in stone, and parallel to the body of wheat sports the moniker “The Bloody Lane”and a short drive down the road will take you to Burnside bridge. Both of these spots claimed the lives of many men. I followed Antietam Creek until I found the resting place of the final attack. There, at the top of a hill lies a monument to the 12th Infantry from Ohio commanded by Colonel Carr B. White. It was serene and it was sad.

Not quite ready to head back to my summer home, I found a station playing twangy bluegrass music and hit the road until I saw something interesting. I eventually wound up in Shepherdstown, WV, which I am told is one of the most haunted towns in the United States. There I did not find ghosts but different spirits of a sort as a small music and street festival was happening. I hardly took any pictures as I was enjoying the Punch Brothers knock-off band playing on the stage with a crowd of partying Shepherd University students. I could have asked for the band’s name but I simply didn’t. Instead I pet some dogs, drank something cold, and danced with the crowd to some pretty fantastic and slightly banjo-ey covers of familiar tunes.

Having walked about 13 miles and finally worn myself out at the festival, I headed back pretty late and got stuck in typical East Coast traffic. As the sun died I stared into the red tail lights of the hundreds of cars ahead and contemplated what the week before me had in store. Work, work, more work, and something very exciting.


For those of you who have been to the D.C. area before, which are some of your favorite historic landmarks and sites to visit? Anything mentally and emotionally evocative? I want to experience everything I can. I do not know if/when I will be back!


How to Identify Yudin Materials 101

Any and all opinions, thoughts, experiences, and photos represented in this blog are my own and do not represent the opinions, ideas, and core values of the European Division or the Library of Congress. This is my personal blog meant to document my experience working and living as an intern in Washington D.C.

So what exactly is it that I do at the Library of Congress? As I have been told several times by all three of my supervisors, “there is no shortage of work in the European Division,” so it is likely that my responsibilities will change as I complete large projects. As of late, I have been organizing the hundreds of Cyrillic 4 classified items which were left behind in mountains and heaps strewn about my cubicle in a tornado of treasure and despair. I use the word treasure because some of the items I have discovered in this preliminary organization have literally belonged to Tsars and have the handiwork and artistry that belongs only in museums. I use the word despair because many of these treasures were crumbling, hidden beneath the crushing weight of other materials and now remain far beyond the state of repair.

Despite the roller-coaster of emotion I experience everyday as I come across amazing items whose structural integrity have been compromised, organizing this small collection is worthwhile because it will not only make my work in correcting, updating, and writing catalog records for the Yudin collection so much easier, but it will make life that much easier for the next person to take over this project (should I not finish the entire project by the end of my internship). I also have had the chance to weed out all of the items in my cubicle which could not possibly have belonged to Mr. Gennadii Vasil’evich Yudin. So how does one identify if an item once belonged Yudin? Allow me to explain.

Yudin’s Personal Book Plate
The first and most blatant way to indicate if an item belongs in the Yudin collection is a large book plate which includes an image of St. Basil’s Cathedral in a bell with a ribbon stating the year “A.D. 1907,” an image of Mr. Yudin’s home to the right of the bell, and an image of Mr. Yudin to the left. Below these images are the words “Domashniaia biblioteka G.V. IUdina,” which means simply home library of G.V. Yudin. An example of this type of book plate can be found below.


Yudin’s original book plate above the Library of Congress book plate.

However, after acquiring the collection of over 80,000 items from Yudin the library decided to make their own copy of Yudin’s book plate. LoC began to adhere these book plates on the inside of many of the items coming in from Russia after the acquisition of Yudin’s collection. This can make things confusing in the quest to separate the items which belonged to Yudin and the items  which are simply part of the larger Cyrillic 4 collection. Not all of Yudin’s original items have his personal book plate in them. So some of Yudin’s original items have his original book plate, some have the LoC book plate, and some have no book plate at all! Because of this, one must search for other clues in order to properly identify items. An example of the LoC copy of Yudin’s book plate can be found below.


Click on this image to get a closer look: This Yudin book plate has the words “U.S. Government Printing Office: [Date]” beneath it indicating it is not one of Yudin’s personal book plates. The inside of this book is gold colored foiled paper.

Yudin Tickets/Personal Book Stamps
I have only come across two of the Yudin Tickets in my search. These are pink stamps, usually found at the beginning of a book, which state that the item in question belonged to Gennadii Yudin along with a possible indicator of which number in his collection the item was. An example of one of a Yudin ticket can be found below.


Yudin tickets are usually light pink and denote which number in the collection an item is. I have only seen two of these.

Inscriptions from Authors to Yudin
I also have only come across a few of these during my organization spree. These are not confusing at all, they are simply messages from the author to Yudin, usually found at the beginning but sometimes also in the back of an item. Sometimes these can be a bit difficult to read though as they are in cursive and handwriting varies in its intricacy from author to author. Example below.


An inscription to Yudin from the author.

Klochkov Tickets/Book Seller Stamps

So far, my favorite way to identify a Yudin item is by Klochkov tickets. Klochkov was a dealer in rare and antique books and helped Yudin acquire much of his library. Klochkov would put his personalized book seller tickets in the front or back of books he acquired for Yudin. They are often brightly colored (I have seen bright green, pink, blue, purple) and some are quite large and often depict Klochkov himself, spiderwebs and books, or even young people reading.

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Yudin’s Blind Stamp
Another of the more fun ways to identify a Yudin item is by Yudin’s blind stamp which is an imprint of the Russian letter “ю” pronounced “yoo” for non Cyrillic readers. Some are more ornate and will state that the item belongs to the library of Yudin with an image of a basket.These stamps are most often found in Yudin’s French materials. So far I have not personally encountered a blind stamp, but I am on the look out!

yudin blind stamp

Yudin’s blind stamp. Picture taken from Barbara Dash’s article “A Visionary Acquisition: The Yudin Collection at the Library of Congress” originally published in Slavic & East European Information Resources 9:2 (2008), 92-114.

LC Accession Numbers
LC accession numbers were assigned to Yudin items during dates very close to the acquisition of the collection by the library. These are a bit harder to notice and I have even missed a few here and there while writing catalog records which my supervisor will later catch when checking my work. These are usually just indicated with a stamp.

Yudin’s Handwritten Card Catalog
The most integral part of this huge Yudin puzzle is a handwritten catalog which details almost all of Yudin’s personal collection. I am told that the card catalog is not complete, but it has been a huge help in verifying that an item indeed belonged to Yudin. We are trying to photocopy and add LCCN numbers to all of the cards in the catalog as we match records to items.

card catalog

This image of a handwritten card from Yudin’s catalog. Taken by Barbara Dash. Sometimes we are able to identify if an item did or didn’t belong to Yudin based on notes about specific inscriptions left to Yudin by authors.

Knowing what to look for is immensely helpful in the search to put Yudin’s original library collection back together. In order to write the best and most descriptive catalog records, I must include any and all information pertaining to the items at hand. With these clues Yudin’s library will be written back into existence one catalog record at a time!

Of course, there are other ways of identifying these items which are highlighted by Barbara Dash (my cataloging supervisor) in her article “A Visionary Acquisition: The Yudin Collection at the Library of Congress” which you can read if you follow this link. I have only highlighted the clues that I have come across in dealing with Yudin’s personal collection, but as Barbara has had far more experience with these materials, she also has uncovered more pieces of the puzzle!

If I come across any new clues, I will be sure to post them here!

A Weekend in Photographs: Lions, Tigers, and Bears…Oh My!

Any and all opinions, thoughts, experiences, and photos represented in this blog are my own and do not represent the opinions, ideas, and core values of the European Division or the Library of Congress. This is my personal blog meant to document my experience working and living as an intern in Washington D.C. 

It was a long and exciting first week so I decided to treat myself to a walk around an antiques village near my summer home and a day at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History. Here is a taste of my first weekend in photographs. Enjoy!

If any of you have suggestions of free or nearly free places for me to visit during my short stay in D.C. please let me know in the comments! I would love to know where to wander to next!

My next post will give an overview of my work for the European Division and how to spot Yudin materials in the massive Cyrillic 4 collection! Look for my post!

The Intern Who Fell to Earth – Week One

Any and all opinions, thoughts, experiences, and photos represented in this blog are my own and do not represent the opinions, ideas, and core values of the European Division or the Library of Congress. This is my personal blog meant to document my experience working and living as an intern in Washington D.C. 

Much like my favorite extra-terrestrial being from the critically acclaimed novel, The Man Who Fell to Earth by Walter Tevis, I feel a bit like an observer learning how to mesh with a different civilization in this land which feels like a strange new planet called Washington D.C. Luckily, for me, the European Division is filled to the brim with some of the most brilliant people whom I have ever had the pleasure to meet. These librarians and researchers have made their journeys from the four corners of the globe to this hallowed institution, the largest library in the world–the Library of Congress–to provide the service of preserving and sharing the knowledge of their expertise. I am surrounded by a never ending supply of knowledge, beauty, politics, and culture. It is a simultaneously enthralling and overwhelming experience, and I would have it no other way. Allow me to back track my story to Sunday morning, 5:00 A.M. EST.


Driving East from Ohio early Sunday morning.

I left as early as I could in order to avoid any traffic for the Memorial Day holiday weekend. With a full tank of gas and giant travel mug of coffee I left my native state of Ohio behind me and set off for a new adventure. Eight hours and two pit stops later I found myself in Maryland at the house I found on Craigslist which, I might add alongside Air B&B, is an incredibly effective and much less expensive way of finding housing if you are considering interning in Washington D.C. in the future. I am staying in what I have referred to with my friends as “The Genius House.” Everyone living in this house is involved in incredibly important projects and academic fields. To protect the identity of my housemates I will not go much further, but just know that they are incredibly brilliant and incredibly kind.

My first whole day living in Maryland was Memorial Day. In order to get a feel for my commute I felt it was incredibly important for me to do a test run. From my summer home I walked to the nearest metro station which takes 10-15 minutes. I take the Wheaton metro station, which has the longest escalator in North America, to Union Station, which takes between 20 and 40 minutes depending on the day, construction, and any or all other reasons the metro could be delayed. From this station I walk to the Library of Congress, which takes another 10-15 minutes depending on how close to my clock-in time I am cutting it. I must add, this is my first real time experiencing D.C. aside from a short four day visit I made to study at the National Archives for my undergrad honors thesis, the summer before my senior year at Wright State University. During that time I did not have much time to experience D.C. in all of its splendor, so if at any point I seem too amazed by everything I see and experience, just know that this is the first time I am seeing or experiencing any of this.

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There is something about my daily commute that I find very pleasing. I enjoy my walk to the station wherein I listen to my favorite Pandora playlist and make a mental list of my day. I enjoy riding the metro which screams like a TIE fighter as it hurtles through tunnels at its top speed. And finally, I think I may have one of the prettiest commutes to work as I walk from Union Station, past a flowering garden, past the Supreme Court, up to the striking Jefferson building, which faces the Capitol. In this regard, I cannot complain. The only thing I do not like about my commute is the D.C. humidity. I do not like how frizzy my hair becomes and how sweaty I am as I arrive at the very well air conditioned Library of Congress. But the work I have been entrusted with and the experiences I will have make up for all the hairspray I use to tame my mane and every bead of sweat which runs down my back as I walk toward Independence Avenue.

Orientation began with HR paperwork filing and an overview of the program. I met four of my intern colleagues who were all equally impressive in terms of work and academics. At my table were two interns set to work on the Veterans History Project: one who will be working on a project for making packets of WWI primary resources for outreach and programming, and another who will be working on a project involving transcribing Spanish language oral histories. If you do not know which project I am working on please refer to my introductory blog post here. We all introduced ourselves and exchanged stories of our university towns and our experiences working in libraries and within our programs. Everything began to feel much more real after we took the oath of office. Once it settled in that I was an employee of the federal government who, as an employee of the Library of Congress, was entrusted to serve Congress and the public, academic or otherwise, by preserving and helping disseminate the knowledge of the world, I began to feel the importance of my project.

After finally meeting my project managers, Grant Harris, head of European Reading Room, Barbara Dash, rare book and manuscript cataloger, and Harry Leich, Russian area specialist, I was introduced to nearly everyone who works for the divison. I feel extremely flattered and welcome as everyone seems very happy to have me. I hope to live up to their expectations.

The first two days of the program were mostly filled with tours, history lectures, fingerprinting, a wonderful opening remarks lecture about what libraries are and how we should think about physical space by the executive director of the D.C. Public Library, Richard Reyes-Gavilan, and wonderful lunches with two of my project managers, where I was able to get a better feel for what I will be doing during my 10 weeks in the capital and a better feel for who they are as people. It is always wonderful to get to know Slavic librarians as people as they usually have extremely compelling and wonderful stories of travels, studies, projects, and other experiences. I always like to see how they view the world and, while sometimes their stories can be dark, the portraits of life painted by the hand of a librarian focused on the Russian, East European, and Eurasian region are usually quite ornate and beautiful to behold.

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Finally, after a course on searching the Library’s ILS (Voyager), I was given my first assignment on Thursday. A previous intern left a large group of Yudin related material in drawers at what I assume was her desk when she worked for the division. Four drawers were marked with sticky notes labeling this intern’s confidence in whether or not an item in the drawer was Yudin collection related or not. With the help of Barbara, I loaded up a cart with all of the materials and took a pile of catalog records, which the previous intern identified as part of the Yudin collection (even verifying these items in Yudin’s handwritten card catalog) but missing from their location as stated by the record, and a healthy pile of books up to my desk in order to start my work.

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Friday began with instruction by Barbara in the proper way to update catalog records via Voyager. After a few issues with programs not working properly and issues with my login password, I learned the ins and outs of minimal level cataloging. While it is not much, I felt very accomplished in updating the few records I could (minus the proper diacritics for the moment as my version of Macro Express is not working). I feel incredibly lucky to work with the items I am responsible for. Novels, text books, dictionaries, biographical material, collections of works, drop-dead-gorgeous portfolios of lithographs and much more are at my fingertips every day. I still feel so honored and quite honestly blown away that I was chosen for this opportunity. I cannot wait to discover and share more as I work with this amazing collection and team. I look forward to what week two will bring to this observer who hopes to slowly but surely prove herself and integrate into the ranks of the European Division of the Library of Congress!



Welcome to Bibliotekar’!

Hello fellow bibliophile! Welcome to my new blog, Bibliotekar’! My name is Bethany and I am a recent graduate of the Russian, East European, and Eurasian (REEE) studies M.A. program at the University of Illinois. During my time there I worked for the Slavic Reference Service (SRS), the only free research service of its kind, where my passion for librarianship in the REEE region flourished.

It is because of my work with the wonderful people at SRS that I will find myself working as an intern for the Library of Congress (LoC) as part of the 2016 Junior Fellows Summer Intern Program. Specifically, I will be working for the European Division with Russian specialists helping catalog over 200 pre-revolutionary manuscripts from the enormous Yudin collection.

Here, with this blog, I will record my journey delving deeper into the realm of librarianship and I hope to show you the ins and outs of my field, my life living in Washington D.C., and interning for the LoC. My journey begins May 31. Come along as my story unfolds!