To the Editors:
We are writing to announce the establishment of an informal network of American Scholars in Solidarity with Poland. As you know, the collapse of the Polish economy has had devastating consequences for academic life. The victory of Solidarity last year has secured intellectual freedom, but Polish universities remain cruelly deficient in the material resources needed for that freedom to be effectively exercised. Nor can the Mazowiecki government, confronted by appalling economic problems and committed to a program of painful austerity, afford to assign a high priority to the promotion of culture and scholarship.
Scholars in Solidarity with Poland will attempt to assist our Polish colleagues during this difficult period of transition. It seems likely that even modest efforts on the part of American academics could bring measurable, and immediate, benefits to Poland’s intellectual life. Ordinary office supplies—paper for copiers and printers, toner, floppy disks—are still pitifully scarce in Poland. Many American libraries, not to mention individual scholars, routinely discard duplicate books and back issues of journals that would be highly valued by Polish universities. (It is worth recalling that a single volume from an American university press, or an annual subscription to a typical academic journal, would cost the entire monthly salary of a Polish university professor.)
As a small but practical first step, we here at St. Lawrence University are soliciting back issues of scholarly journals and copies of university press books for donation to Polish universities.
We invite contributions in all academic fields. We would prefer complete volumes of journals and university press books, in good condition, published within the past fifteen years. We are willing to accept, at once, any books or journals that must be disposed of immediately. But we would prefer to receive lists of proposed donations in advance, so as to avoid excessive duplication and prevent our limited storage and handling facilities from being overwhelmed.
Priority will initially be given to the library of Warsaw University, which has hitherto received relatively little foreign assistance. Duplicate titles will be directed, as needed, to other universities—first in Poland, and then elsewhere in Central and Eastern Europe. Donors need only ship their contributions to us in Canton, New York. We will arrange to transport the material overseas. Please send lists, inquiries, and suggestions to:
Scholars in Solidarity with Poland
c/o William Hunt
Department of History
St. Lawrence University
Canton, NY 13617
Fax: (315) 379-5502
William A. Hunt, History
Richard Kuhta, Librarian
John Valentine, Philosophy
November 8, 1990