December 21, 2005

Journals collection donated to Russian institute

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- For most of the last century, Frank L. Klingberg “accidentally” collected hundreds of academic journals devoted to his favorite subjects of world affairs and foreign policy, never dreaming the stacks would become a treasure for a school on the other side of the planet.

The voluminous collection, however, will be a star attraction at a Russian higher education facility, where it recently arrived following an uncertain journey by road and ship during the last few months.

The Institute of Philosophy and Law at Ekaterinburg in the Urals province of Russia is the new repository for the collection. Klingberg, a professor emeritus of political science at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, said he hopes the journals shed light on a subject that was for years darkened by communist limitations on academic freedom.

“They’re interested in everything,” said Klingberg, who still lives near SIUC, where he taught for three decades. “They’re planning a special event and making quite a thing out of it. And here I was surprised they’d even take them.

“It’s a sign of their interest in America and foreign affairs,” Klingberg said. “They’re not afraid of anything anymore. They’re interested in all opportunities to learn about the world.”

The journals are among the top academic publications in the world, including titles such as “Foreign Affairs,” “Foreign Policy,” “Washington Quarterly” and “American Political Science Review.” The issues, some 1,800 in total, stretch back from present day solidly into the 1930s, with a handful dating from about 1922.

Klingberg credited his friend Stephen C. Shulman, associate professor of political science at SIUC, with arranging the donation and handling the complex logistics involved in shipping the journals overseas. Shulman knew the scholars in the Ekaterinburg area through a special exchange program funded by the U.S. government.

After learning of Klingberg’s intention to donate the journals, Shulman contacted his Russian colleagues via e-mail to see if they were interested.

“They were very interested, but the issue was finding a way to pay for the shipping,” Shulman said. “It was going to be expensive and they didn’t have the funding.”

Some additional research led Shulman to a foundation funded by George Soros, a billionaire financier who has funded a large amount of post-communist research in social science in the former Soviet Union. Once Shulman secured shipping costs, the Russians had to figure out how much duties, taxes and fees they would have to pay to get journals into the country.

“It took them months, literally months to figure that out,” Shulman explained. Russian officials, lawyers and accountants had little experience with receiving overseas shipments and simply weren’t familiar with the law’s requirements.

Once they settled the logistics it was up to a group of SIUC student workers to load box after box onto a flatbed truck for the trip from Klingberg’s home to the campus post office. Shulman said the 27 boxes eventually made their way to a harbor, where dockworkers in November loaded them aboard a ship for the weeks-long journey to Ekaterinburg.

“The big question was, ‘will they arrive?’’’ said Shulman, who holds an endowed professorship named for Klingberg. “ There was a lot of uncertainty involved.”

They did, and officials there are planning a Feb. 4 announcement during the annual Eurasian Political Science Network conference there. Scholars from 18 countries, mass media and representatives of the U.S. consulate will be on hand.

Klingberg said the openness with which the Russians accepted the gift stands in stark contrast to an incident he experienced during the 1970s during a trip to then communist-held East Berlin.

“We were taking a bus tour and when we crossed into East Berlin they searched us. I had a copy of Time magazine and they confiscated it,” Klingberg recalled. “They didn’t want such dangerous things coming into that area.”

Shulman said the journals will serve as a learning resource for scholars throughout the region.

“It’s very expensive to subscribe to Western journals like these and they have nothing like this over there. It’s invaluable to them,” Shulman said. “They have a great deal of gratitude to Frank and SIUC. I can’t help but think it will create a positive image more broadly of the United States.”

Klingberg said he’s hopeful the donation will promote understanding.

“It will especially help them learn about America and how Americans feel about the world,” Klingberg said. “It should help promote understanding and peace, I hope. I have a feeling it’s something that will be used.”

Leading in research, scholarly and creative activities are among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University if following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.