The Russian invasion of Ukraine has prompted a spike in curiosity within the historical past and tradition of these nations and the broader area. As Duke’s Librarian for Slavic, Eurasian and East European Research, Ernest (“Erik”) Zitser helps college students and students navigate the college’s huge holdings in addition to numerous different assets.
Born in Ukraine within the former Soviet Union, Dr. Zitser has a Ph.D. in Russian Historical past from Columbia College and has labored extensively within the discipline. He just lately spoke with Duke At present about how the Duke group can study extra concerning the historic context surrounding the continued conflict.
“The very first thing I like to recommend is popping off the TV and logging off Fb and Twitter. As a substitute, attend a dwell seminar (such because the collection of talks – like this one — organized by Duke’s Middle for Russian, Eurasian, and East European Research) or the upcoming documentary film screening and Q&A with a Ukrainian director,” Zitser mentioned.
Listed here are excerpts from that dialog:
Q: You latterly wrote a weblog publish concerning the breadth of assets on Ukraine that Duke has for its group. Have you ever seen a surge in curiosity in these supplies?
ZITSER: I’ve not had an opportunity to run circulation reviews on all of the assets that I discussed in my weblog publish, however anecdotal proof suggests that there’s, certainly, a lot larger curiosity in supplies about Ukraine than earlier than the Russian invasion. For instance, even a fast look on the Duke College Libraries’ on-line catalog exhibits that Serhii Plokhy’s Gates of Europe: A Historical past of Ukraine and Anne Applebaum’s Pink Famine: Stalin’s Struggle on Ukraine — the one two books on Ukrainian historical past to have made an look on the New York Occasions bestseller record — are each checked out.
This isn’t only a Duke factor, both. My colleagues on the fundamental department of the Durham County Library report that books about Ukraine have been checked out so shortly that they at present do not need sufficient supplies to stage a public e-book show on the subject. Clearly, there’s a great demand for dependable details about what is occurring, and knowledgeable evaluation of why it is occurring, which can’t be stuffed by social media and the sorts of issues individuals have a tendency to seek out on-line.
Certainly, the actual fact that there’s a lot materials on Google, Twitter, and Fb, and that a lot of it’s so unreliable, if not downright false, is exactly the rationale why analysis universities like Duke make use of skilled topic librarians like myself. It’s our job, in coordination with school, researchers, and college students, to construct and curate the absolute best collections of analysis supplies. This manner, as a substitute of ingesting from a firehouse of data, our patrons can sip from the fountain of information — an previous metaphor for the method of enlightenment, however one which applies greater than ever.
Q: How would possibly these supplies be useful to individuals with solely a peripheral understanding of the nation, area and battle?
ZITSER: Whether or not one is a seasoned researcher or somebody with a peripheral understanding of the nation, area, and battle, the collections at Duke College Libraries have gotten you coated. For instance, in my information to assets on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, I provided some strategies for a way our customers can discover not solely dependable information protection, but additionally books and flicks on the subject.
Since many college students are visible learners and infrequently start their analysis on YouTube relatively than Google, documentary movies (akin to those which are accessible because of the library’s subscription to on-line streaming video platforms) are a very helpful start line for studying concerning the occasions that led as much as the present state of affairs (for instance, 9 Month Struggle or Day by day watch. Life on the frontline of Ukraine’s conflict). Better of all, these assets have already been vetted, bought, and cataloged by library employees, and are all accessible from the library’s on-line catalog, which is the principle portal to all of assets in all codecs (analog, digital, archival).
I at all times inform college students to by no means pay for something they discover on-line in a Google search as a result of Duke College Libraries already personal it or else can simply get it both by means of buy or interlibrary mortgage. You have already paid for this along with your tuition, you need not pay for it once more.
I additionally encourage patrons to keep in mind that library assets embody not solely things like books, journals, and databases, but additionally human assets, like skilled librarians and archivists with topic experience. Within the case of supplies on worldwide subjects or particular areas of the world, I inform of us to contact my colleagues within the library’s Worldwide & Space Research Division. Like myself, these skilled librarians are acknowledged specialists on every of the world’s areas and may join researchers to supplies in each English and vernacular languages that they’re unlikely to seek out on their very own.
Q: A final attention-grabbing tidbit: Is it true that the creation of the time period ‘genocide’ has a hyperlink to Duke?
ZITSER: Sure. this basic idea of worldwide human rights legislation was coined by Raphael Lemkin — an Japanese European refugee and authorized scholar — throughout his temporary sojourn at Duke in 1941-42, partially, because of our library’s assortment of legal guidelines about Nazi Germany’s occupation of Europe. As I wrote in an IAS weblog publish final yr, Lemkin’s instance demonstrates the essential function that Duke library’s dedication to gathering for world range can play in making an actual life difference– not solely in fostering higher scholarship, but additionally in altering the world for the higher.