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Library director Cliff Haka was a special guest at a recent conference on Ivan Aleksandrovich Il'in, a Russian philosopher and legal theorist who devoted much of his life to writing about Russian culture and national identity. The conference was held, coincidentally, at another MSU -- Moscow State University -- and hosted scholars from Russia, the United States, Germany, Poland, and the Ukraine.
Why were the MSU Libraries honored at this event? Surprisingly, the connection between the MSU Libraries and Ivan Il’in goes back almost fifty years. Il’in was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1922, and died in Switzerland in 1954. Through an extraordinary set of circumstances, the MSU Libraries were asked in 1965 to accept responsibility for his personal papers until they could be returned to Russia.
That return was accomplished seven years ago, when the Russian Cultural Foundation formally requested the papers be transferred to Moscow State University. The MSU Libraries fully supported the repatriation, and we were honored to host a delegation from Moscow in May 2006 for a formal transfer.
During the trip, Haka was able to visit the papers in their new home in the archive at the Moscow State University library. One of the best moments, he reported, was talking with scholars who were overjoyed to have the Il'in archive back in Russia -- material they had wanted to study, they said, their entire lives.
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