Collection development has focused on Siberia, Soviet/Russian Far East, and Russia's relationship with the countries and peoples of Asia and the Pacific. Systematic acquisitions began in 1937 when Dr. Klaus Mehnert accepted a position on the university faculty. Mehnert had studied Russia in Asia and the Pacific at the University of Berlin under a pioneer in the field, Professor Otto Hoetzsch, and had developed this interest in post-doctoral study at the University of California at Berkeley, where Robert J. Kerner was offering a Northeast Asia seminar. At the University of Hawaii, Mehnert's initiatives were continued in the Department of History by John A. White, and then by White's student John J. Stephan; and in the Russian language and literature program by Ella Lury Wiswell; and in the Library by Patricia Polansky; and others such as Robert Valliant.
Robert B. Valliant, Patricia Polansky, John A. White, John J. Stephan, and Ella Lury Wiswell
In addition to Russian history, language, and literature courses, UH has offered geography, philosophy, and religion, generating acquisitions of Russian materials on a wide variety of topics. There are also Russian holdings in oceanography, volcanology, and tropical agriculture. The collection reflects the interests of faculty who were here in the past: Roland Fuchs in Geography, Ella Lury Wiswell and Larry Heien in Russian literature and language, Rex Wade and Donald Raleigh in History. Thanks to the latter two professors we have a strong collection on the Russian Revolutions of 1917. See article by Patricia Polansky "Who Created Us?" or SEEIR, 2008, V.9, no.2, p.174-225.
Current UH faculty members include Russian historian Matthew Romaniello, and Russian language/literature Chair Anastasia Kostetskaya. We also have Elena Sedova, visiting Fulbright instructor for 2016-2017.