Yale Library’s former Slavic studies librarian honored for distinguished service

  • Woman in red dress and dark coat standing on a pier with water and blue sky behind her
    Tatjana Lorkovic was curator of Yale University Library’s Slavic and Eastern European collections from 1989 to 2014. (Photo by Anna Arays)
November 16, 2021

Tatjana Lorkovic, curator of Yale University Library’s Slavic and Eastern European collections from 1989 to 2014, has been honored for her contributions to the field of Slavic librarianship with a distinguished service award from the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES), one of the most important professional organizations in the field of Slavic studies.

Lorkovic, known as Tanja to her friends and colleagues, joined Yale Library in 1989, shortly before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Because the dissolution of the Soviet government completely changed the landscape for book publishing and book buying in Russia, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, Lorkovic spent much of her career reimagining library acquisitions in the new political landscape and forging connections with librarians, archivists, and booksellers within the region.

“The arrival of Tanja to the position of Slavic librarian at Yale was a revolution in that area of the library,” said Paul Bushkovitch, Reuben Post Halleck Professor of History. “She brought an energy to the position that was remarkable. She made tremendous acquisitions in the area, such as microfilmed documents of Soviet history, or unusual books and serials in Russian history and culture, as well as for the other Slavic countries. The result was one of the best collections in the area in the United States.”

Her efforts created partnerships that Yale Library relies on to this day, as well as opening pathways for faculty and student researchers seeking to navigate the post-Soviet archival system. She was also a steadfast supporter of professional exchanges, hosting internship programs for Slavic librarians from across the former Soviet space. From 1993 to 2011, the library hosted 20 interns, with funding support from the Department of Education, The Chopivsky Family Fund, the Open Society Institute, and Dr. Kristaps Keggi.

Since her retirement in 2014, Lorkovic has remained a regular visitor to campus events and an active researcher at Yale’s libraries and archives. The ASEEES Distinguished Service Award, bestowed by the association’s Committee on Libraries and Information Resources, honors “ASEEES member librarians, archivists or curators whose contributions to the field of Slavic, East European and Eurasian studies librarianship have been especially noteworthy or influential.”

—By Anna Arays