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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Vernacular Language Resources for East European and Eurasian Research: Assessing Sources

Union Catalogs

Union catalogs, catalogs that list the holdings of many libraries, can offer the researcher not only a broader collection of materials but also locational options. 

General Considerations

  • General bibliographic resources are just that, they are not limited to a specific subject
  • Comprehensive subject sources will save time and effort on interdisciplinary searches but may be more time-consuming to search
  • These sources include various types of media: text, audio, video, electronic
  • If Google seems the best approach, try search the vernacular language version using the script of that country.  You will often find material here not indexed in the English language version of Google.  Keep other vernacular language search engines in mind as well.
  • Some national library catalogs can act as subject bibliographies to a certain extent.
  • If you are searching European library catalogs be sure you use the transliteration they employ.  An excellent comparative table for cyrillic is available at Transliteratsiia Russkogo Alfavita

Assessing Sources

Some electronic resources for vernacular materials include little or no information on their compilation. In some cases it is impossible to know who compiled an online source, how or where it was done or what chronological 

  • E-resources can be difficult to assess, particularly in relation to comprehensiveness.

  • Some electronic resources are superseding print resources.

  • For the scholar the issue is simply "When I have searched this source can I assume I have seen everything".
period is covered. Even without answers to these questions you may still choose to use an electronic source. The point is, it is important to be aware of what you don't know about the source you are using.

Digital resources can seem to be all-encompassing and many are extremely impressive, truly simplifing scholarly research. In general, they do not tend to have great retrospective depth though this is improving. Still, they can save you time when looking for current publications. If you are looking for older publications, your search is likely to require the use of a combination of print and online sources.

 In the left hand box there is a list of union catalogs.  These are web interfaces that allow you to search many libaries, usually in a single country, with one set of search terms.  This can be very helpful when planning your research if you are trying to determine which libraries will have the richest depositories for your research.  They can also be helpful if your library participates in International Interlibrary Loan.  This will assist your librarian in obtaining the material you need.


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