Doctoral candidate Claudia Serbanuta successfully defended her dissertation, "Voices from the Other Side of the Wall: The Case of Romanian Libraries of the 1970s and the 1980s," on April 24.
Her committee included Associate Professor Kathryn La Barre (chair and research director), Professor Alistair Black, Professor Emeritus Chip Bruce, and Keith Hitchins (professor of history, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign).
From the abstract: In the second half of the 20th century, the Communist regime in Romania developed a centralized, national system of public libraries. The system had a clear purpose: to act as one of the regime’s propaganda tools. This study provides insight into the history of librarianship and of the public library system in communist Romania.
This is an oral history research project, in which I collected and analyzed interviews with people who worked in public libraries in the 1970s and 1980s. Their memories of the professional practices at the time are anchored by the documents of the era and the existing historical research.
This research contributes to the literature in several significant ways. It is the first in-depth history of an information profession that covers the last decades of the communist regime. It also adds a distinct perspective to the history of communism, by contributing to the history of a profession that matured during this regime. Moreover, it contributes to an understanding of professional practices that continue in Romanian public libraries to this day.