The author examines the international rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War and how ideological premises were used to bring libraries into the conflict. In the aftermath of World War II, the two superpowers were left with international hostilities that carried over into cultural institutions. Libraries served as important tools in the implementation of their respective governments' foreign policy. Instruments used in the Soviet Union were the Ministry of Culture's journal, Bibliotekar', and the Communist party's Comecon (Council for Mutual Economic Assistance). Bibliotekar' targeted public librarians and influenced them against the perceived capitalist agenda of imperialism abroad. As a result, many libraries became involved in a campaign to raise domestic consciousness toward international foreign policy. Comecon concentrated on subsidizing higher education in librarianship to foreign students, and many foreign countries, financed by the Soviet Union, joined in the campaign. The United States was limited in ways to influence library collections. However, the Foreign Agents Registration Act enforced by the U.S. Congress was one way, through U.S. Customs, to stop the flow of Soviet materials into the United States. Another way was through the United States Department of State Libraries (USIS), controlled by the United States Information Agency (USIA). Overseas USIS libraries were forced to support American foreign policy. McCarthyism in America and socialism in Communist countries had a large impact on political agendas. Consequently, political philosophies developed during the Cold War curtailed national library activities and by the same token affected international foreign policy.


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pp. 183-203
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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