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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Vernacular Language Resources for East European and Eurasian Research: General Bibliographic Resources

Library Catalogs

Bibliographies of Bibliography

  • If you are working on an unfamiliar topic, the bibliography of bibliographies can save you a great deal of time in your research. It is the easiest way to identify a subject guide for your area.
  • Currently, they are produced in a number of countries as serial publication including Russia, Poland, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Croatia.
  • In some cases, the national library catalog now serves the function of this type of source as will be described described below.

I know no better starting point when exploring an unfamiliar topic than the bibliography of bibliography. In the best case scenario, it will identify a subject guide that will give a wide variety of information. In any case it will give a very clear idea of how much research has been done on a topic.

Most countries in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union produce some kind of serial bibliography listing bibliographic sources. The Russians have produced an annual publication of this type for many years. Some of these sources are now available online. These include bibliographies that are published in journals, not just monographs.  With any serial bibliographic source, searching its contents can be a time consuming procedure.


General Considerations

  • National library catalogs can act as subject bibliographies to a certain extent
  • Library catalogs must be carefully assessed before beginning a bibliographic search for retrospective depth, scope of collection, type of access and types of media included in the catalog.
  • Bibliographies often include monographs and periodical articles, as well as dissertations, so can lead to a more complete picture on the research in a specific field.
  • Google Books can be very helpful for those seeking retrospective bibliographic sources.  Copyright limitations on many publications would make the earlier publications most common here, particularly those published before 1924, thought there are exceptions.
  • Databases can be especially helpful for identifying this material but, again, must be carefully assessed as to retrospective depth and coverage.

Library Catalogs

One of the interesting developments with electronic resources is that the general sources, such as library catalogs, sometimes obviate the need to check a variety of subject resources. This has certainly been true with some of the south Slavic national library catalogs that include citations to books, dissertations and articles. The Czech National Library has a multi-functional search portal available from the library's home page that will allow the user to search for article citations online.  Likewise, EastView company has produced an online subscription version of the Russian National Bibliography [UIUC ONLY!] that includes citations to articles, dissertations, maps, journals and books.



Another such source exists via the Bulgarian National Library.  As with the Czech portal, this website provides access to citations for books, articles and periodicals.  With the introduction of the COBISS interface in the last year the citations to articles, books and periodicals are no integrated into one catalog.  In the past these were only available through separate catalogs and separate interfaces. The Romanian National Library catalog also includes citations to articles.  However, it is somewhat unreliable and is periodically unavailable. The Baltic countries have some excellent resources for identifying al their publications, articles and books. These libraries usually allow you to search in Russian in the interface, not commonly available in the Central European Library interfaces.  Why should you care?  If you are visiting one of these countries, Poland, Czech Republic, etc.  it is worth remembering that for particular periods the national libaries in these countries were depositories for Russian publications.

The Estonian National Library catalog, ESTER, allows the researcher to select specific library collections to search.  It can be searched in cyrillic or latin characters.  As with most of the other East European library catalogs, articles, manuscripts and books are included in its records.  It is also the case here that the records only date from the early '90s for articles.  However, the books catalogs include records from the 1700s. 

A list of links to all the library catalogs for Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union are listed in the side bar to the left.

Library Portals

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

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.