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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Vernacular Language Resources for East European and Eurasian Research: Type of information

Types of Sources

Another way of looking at the types of sources:

  • Archival sources
    • Archival portals
    • Full text online and in microfilm
    • Guides to archives, online and paper
    • Contact Information
  • Bibliographical sources
    • Traditional print bibliographies
    • National Bibliographies
    • Guides to or bibliograhies of bibliography
    • Library Catalogs/Union Catalogs
    • Periodical Indexes/Databases
  • Biographical sources
    • Encyclopedias, general or subject specific
    • Biographical Dictionaries
    • Biographical Portals/Indexes
  • Subject Resources 
    • Subject guides
    • Online Catalogs 
    • Specialized subject sources (subject portals,
      subject encycloped
    • Atlases, Gazeteers


Information and Sources

The type of information you are seeking will define the type of source you will need. If you are looking for a particular book and you have the author and/or title you will want a libary catalog or union catalog.  if you are looking for statistics on publishing during the Russian Imperial period where do you look: encyclopedia, bibliography, web? 

But if you don't know the range of sources that are available how do you identify the best source for your research?   Most scholars are well aware of the major types of resources.  But reference sources can include information that may surprise you.  For example, the appendixes of some bibliographies can include statistica.  Others includes reviews and biographical information in their annotations.

Print Resources Digital Resources Type of Information
Bibliographies Catalogs These are sources that provide you with a list of titles, usually monographs, but not exclusively.  They are most often drawn from a specific collection or group of collections so are not absolutely comprehensive.  This category includes library catalogs, union catalogs (several catalogs searchable with one interface, printed bibliographies and bibliographies of bibliography.
National Bibliographies Digital Access to National Bibliography or National Library These are published or digital resources issued by a country to track its publishing output.  They are usually defined to include all published material either issued in a country's borders or in its vernacular language, regardless of format and therefore include newspapers, maps, music, periodicals, and books.
Archival Guides Archival Websites/Portals In general, these will guide you through the materials in a particular repository.  They identify the holdings on a particular topic or person at an institution.  However, many do much more, providing biographical information and information on societies.  They are invaluable for anyone planning a research trip
Biographical Dictionaries Full-text Biographical Sites or Biographical Portals These range from general biographical sources like the Russkii Biograficheskii Slovar' to the very specific biographical guides to various institutions.  Many of these are online but this is particularly an area filled with unusual sources that are rich in information.
Encyclopedic Sources Encyclopedic Portals Almost every scholar is aware of encyclopedias is a type of general information resource.  However, eastern Europe and Russia have many notable scholarly encyclopias.  A very large number are subject specific and often will include not only extensive bibliographies but also archival references.  They are invaluable for anyone beginning a project on an unfamiliar topic. 
Misc. Reference:  Atlases, Indexes, Guides, Statistical Sources Search Engines Atlases, Indexes, Gazeteers, Disciplinary Guides, Statistical Publications, these are the sources that are most quickly overlooked in favor of Google.  While Google and the many other excellent search engines available can certainly save time they will not always provide what you need in terms of historical maps, current statistics.  There are also specialized sources in this category, linguistic atlases, guides to political parties, etc..  Digital sources can, in some cases, lead to the misperception that you have seen the best or all of the available material on a topic. 


All of these have different virtues and limitations.  One thing you may not be aware of for the East European/Slavic areas of the world is the fascination with guides to the various disciplines.  These are more than bibliographies.  They include lists of the major periodicals to the field, subject encyclopedias, archival guides, biographical resources.  If you are dealing with a topic that includes retrospective material these can be invaluable. 

Subject Guide

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Slavic Reference Service
International & Area Studies Library
319a Main Library
University of Illinois
1408 West Gregory Drive
Urbana, Illinois 61801