Newsletter No 19 (April 1998)

  1. ISSN 0966‑999X                                                                               No. 19 April 1998





    Owing to the imminent departure of the current editor, an able replacement has been found.  She is Nicola Deal from the British Library in Boston Spa, who joined the BL several years ago and recently began work with Ron Hogg.  She is an aspiring ‘Russianist’, with a language background, and is currently doing A’Level Russian.  Future correspondence regarding the Newsletter should be sent to her at the address below, as should the flood of contributions for the next Newsletter which I feel sure are coming her way.

    Nicola Deal
    The British Library
    Slavonic Acquisitions
    Boston Spa
    West Yorkshire
    LS23 7BQ
    Tel: 01937 546214
    Fax: 01937 546333


     The 6th World Congress of the International Council for Central and East European Studies will take place in Tampere Finland in summer 2000.  The traditional pr-‑conference for librarians will be held at the National Library of Estonia in Tallinn.  The National Library of Estonia is situated a short walk away from the beautifully preserved and restored old city of Tallinn and having attended an ABDOS conference there in 1993, I would highly recommend a visit.  For those who are not sure of the geography of the area, Tallinn is a short ferry journey or flight from Helsinski.  Tampere is 110 miles from Helsinki and linked by an hourly train service – journey time ca. 1 hour 40 minutes.

    At the COSEELIS AGM in Cambridge I agreed to act as the COSEELIS contact for questions regarding participation at either conference.  In the next few weeks I intend to contact the Library and Archives representative on the planning committee for the Tampere conference and also colleagues in the USA to establish how best to coordinate proposals for panels.  Also, I am waiting for information from colleagues at the National Library in Estonia about the librarian’s pre-conference.  I will pass information on via the Newsletter and the COSEELIS list, but in the meantime, please start thinking about suggestions for panels.

    You can also find general information about the two conferences via the ICCEES web page at:

    Janet Zmroczek British Library


    Within the Department of Manuscripts holdings can be found references to Russia, to Russian contacts with Britain, and to Russians in correspondence with people in this country.  In some cases, as with the Soviet War Posters, the survival of such materials at Nottingham is unexpected.  In other cases, as with the diplomatic correspondence in the Portland Collection, the known careers of particular individuals makes the Nottingham association more obvious.  In general, the presence of these resources at Nottingham would not be obvious to researchers and considerable guidance from library staff is often necessary to ensure that relevant material is made available to researchers.

    Among the collections which contain occasional material within this subject area are the following (this list is not exhaustive):

    MS 281

    Collection of Soviet War Posters.  These have been filmed and published as: Soviet War Posters c.  1940‑1945: The Tass Poster Series  (Adam Matthew Publications, 1992).

    Newcastle Collection

    Diplomatic and other political papers, mainly concerning Britain’s relations with Russia, or within Europe.

    Portland Collection

    Diplomatic and other political papers, including in particular material from the period of Peter the Great.

    Buchanan Collection

    Diplomatic correspondence of Sir Andrew Buchanan (1807‑1882), ambassador at St.Petersburg at various points 1838‑1864, together with material associated with Sir George Buchanan and his daughter, in St.Petersburg in 1917.

    Lavrin Collection

    Papers of Professor Janko Lavrin, of the Dept.  of Slavonic Studies

    Partridge Collection

    Papers of Professor Monica Partridge, particularly of Serbo-Croat interest.

    Bing Collection

    Including papers associated with his pacifist interests, featuring postcard series of L. Tolstoy and letters of P. Kropotkin.

    Brandt Collection

    Family and business correspondence of the Brandt family, bankers and traders based partly at Archangel and concerned with Russian trade.  19th century.

    Moskalenko Papers

    Personal papers of Dr Valentin Moskalenko (1895‑1986), formerly of Ukraine, including information

    about his early clinical career.


    e.g.  18th‑century poetics textbook from Kiev; Bible in Church Slavonic.

    The Department’s Website gives some access to the finding aids to these collections:


    The retrospective conversion project at the Albert Sloman Library, University of Essex, is now complete (except for some alterations to transliteration).  All our holdings on the FSU, Russia and Eastern Europe are now listed in our on‑line catalogue.

    Nicola Hamill-Stewart

    Albert Sloman Library


    This material has recently been catalogued by Mr.  George B.  Morris and is now available for consultation.  A more detailed description of this collection and its historical background is available on the Web at:

    The collection consists of:

    l.     About 125 books and brochures published 1918‑1921 in Russia in territory occupied by the White forces (mostly on the Southern Front but the North‑West Front and Siberia are also represented) and among Russian anti‑Bolshevik emigres (in Constantinople, Kharbin, Belgrade, Paris, etc).

    2.    0ver 300 leaflets issued by or under the aegis of the White forces and by Church authorities containing orders, regulations, appeals, statements of political programmes, biographies and obituaries of White generals, and descriptions of the treatment of the Church in Soviet territories.

    3.    Texts of articles published or for publication in areas occupied by White forces.

    4.    Information bulletins of Russian news agencies in South Russia, Siberia, Belgrade, Constantinople, etc., and surveys of the foreign press mostly prepared by the White information and propaganda agency OSVAG.

    This material was collected in Russia by Mrs A.V.  Tyrkova-Williams, a Russian journalist and leading member of the Constitutional Democrat (Kadet) Party, and her husband, Harold Williams, also a journalist, later Foreign Affairs Editor of The Times, in 1919‑1920, when they were with the British Military Mission to General Denikin.  Mrs Tyrkova-Williams remained active in the White Movement after the Civil War, was an organiser of the Russian Liberation Committee in London, edited the Committee’s publications and, among other things, raised money for the relief of Russian orphaned children.


    At the COSEELIS Conference I mentioned Mrs Isaievych from whom we have been buying Ukrainian books and some serials.  Her email is:

    Chris Thomas

    The British Library


    During a recent visit to Moscow and St.  Petersburg, I met Russian colleagues who are working on a number of automation and Internet‑related projects.  The Web in Russia, or ‘RUNet’ as it is generally known (from the domain name .ru which identifies Russian Websites) is particularly dynamic and is the fastest growing area of the Web after Finland.  Although the way is generally led by commercial organisations in the Russian Federation, there are some interesting projects being initiated by Russian libraries.  While some funding comes from the Federal coffers, much of the financial input comes from the Soros Foundation.  The considerable overlap between projects and prevalent institutional competition make accurate description of the current situation difficult.


    GPNTB ‑ Gosudarstvennaia publichnaia nauchno‑tekhnicheskaia biblioteka (Moscow)

    ILIAC‑ International Library Information and Analytical Centre

    NLR ‑ National Library of Russia (St Petersburg)

    RSL ‑ Russian State Library (Moscow)

    VGBIL ‑ Vserossiiskaia gosudarstvennaia biblioteka inostrannoi literatury (Moscow)

    Libnet (http:l/

    The Litnet programme was established in 1992‑3 under the auspices of the Ministry of Culture and originally incorporated 6 libraries in Moscow led by the GPNTB.  The intention was to devise a framework within which libraries could automate, exchange bibliographic data and allow networked access to holdings information.  The excellent Rossiiskii svodnyi katalog po NTL (nauchno­tekhnicheskoi literatury) ( was the first searchable online union catalogue on the Web in the Russian Federation and is maintained by the GPNTB.  Libnet expanded to incorporate another four libraries (with a further five additions planned) to become a major platform for Internet projects and the gateway to the online resources of the principal libraries in Moscow and St.  Petersburg.  The programme has spawned several important projects, the most significant of which are outlined below.

    Libweb (http ://

    This is a state-funded project initiated in 1995 to establish a ‘distributed bibliographical system’, as part of the Federal’naia mezhvedomstvennaia programma sozdaniia natsionaltnoi seti komptiuternykh telekommunikatsii dlia nauki i vysshei shholy (funded primarily by the Rossiiskii fond fundamental’nykh issledovanii).  The plan is to provide online access to the automated catalogues of libraries across Russia and to provide links to library Websites/catalogues and essential reference material through a single gateway.  Although only a very few servers outside Moscow and St.  Petersburg offer online catalogues as yet, this is an impressive site providing links to a multitude of libraries and one which will become increasingly important.  The service, coordinated by the GPNTB (which maintains the site), will be free of charge.

    Pushkin Project

    Called the ‘Pushkin Megaproject’, this is a massive Soros‑funded project to automate libraries in the Russian regions from Autumn 1998.  The aim is to automate libraries across Russia, to promote access to bibliographic information on their holdings through the Internet and to facilitate corporate cataloguing.  The total number of ‘centres’ will be around 100 and there will be approximately 3500 participating libraries.  This ambitious scheme is intended to establish a national library infrastructure within which cataloguing and communications formats can be harmonised to facilitate the exchange of bibliographical records.

    In the literature I have seen, the Russian Book Chamber will play a central role within this infrastructure, becoming the focus of the Centre for Corporate Cataloguing.  Using a system compatible to the one installed in the regions (probably VTLS, although this is still out to tender), the Book Chamber will make records available to libraries across Russia no later than a week after publication date [sic!].  The end product (scheduled to appear after two years) would be a Russian National Bibliography administered by the Book Chamber available over the Web and from which records could be downloaded and used free-of-charge by Russia’s libraries.

    While the funding for the automation and networking of libraries in the regions is secure (George Soros appeared in person on Russian TV to launch the project during my visit), there may be a question mark over the funding of the Book Chamber’s Web version of the Russian National Bibliography.  The RTsKK (GPNTB) (see below) is well under way and appears to mirror the role proposed for the ‘Centre for Corporate Cataloguing’ (Russian Book Chamber) in the Pushkin Project.  Whatever the outcome, the Book Chamber will play a central part in any cooperative cataloguing effort

    Rossiiskii tsentr kooperatirnoi katalogizatsii (RTsKK) (

    This fledgling collaborative cataloguing project involving around 20 libraries (again spearheaded by the GPNTB) has been dubbed the ‘Russian OCLC’.  Participants include the GPNTB, the National Library of Russia, the Russian State Library and the Russian Book Chamber.  The project is at an experimental stage at the time of writing, but its future will be decided at a meeting in April/May 1998 when it is hoped that backing will be given for the project to continue and possibly to be placed on a commercial footing some time in the future.  Participating libraries search by ISBN for a record for a new acquisition.  If a record is not found, then the library catalogues the item and contributes a record (thereby accumulating credit).  Alternatively, if a record is located in the database, the library can download and import the record into the local system using the credit it has accumulated.  Records are in UNIMARC (or the local variants of UNIMARC which do contain some differences owing to the manner in which records are stored ‑ the GPNTB, like many other large libraries in Russia, uses the CDS‑ISIS system which apparently cannot support full UNIMARC).  It is hoped that 150 libraries in the Russian Federation will eventually have access to this database.  Access is by user ID/password only.

    While this may become an important source of catalogue copy for Western libraries in the future, several problems have to be addressed: the format of records is not always stable (one library’s idea of UNIMARC format may not chime with that of the next); the author/corporate headings are not always compatible with those used in the UK/US; and perhaps the thorniest issue of all is the use of UDC subject headings by Russian libraries.

    RUSMARCProject (Russkii kommunikatsionnyi format) (

    This project within the Litnet programme is run by the RUSMARC working group (led by the National Library of Russia).  The question of formats in Russia is fairly fraught with the National

    Library pushing for a ‘home grown’ Russian variant (along the lines of USMARC, UKMARC, CANMARC, FINMARC, etc), the GPNTB arguing for pure UNIMARC and the Russian State Library using USMARC.  There is a useful introductory piece on the RUSMARC project on the National Library’s server at the address given above.

    Other projects

    VGBIL- the library is heavily involved in the Pushkin project.  There are several other interesting projects including: plans to convert their automated catalogue to a UNIX platform which will enable them to mount their catalogue on the Web and provide access to other Russian libraries; a forthcoming text/image Website detailing a recent exhibition of Pre‑Raphaelite art organised by the VGBIL and the British Council; a Franco‑Russian project to digitise French‑language audio collections in Russian libraries to be added to an audio‑visual Website; and plans to establish an online distance language learning centre.

    NLR ‑ the online TeFushchii katalog ( book.htm) is a searchable database of all acquisitions from 1998 onwards.  A significant project at the planning stage is in the sphere of document delivery: phase I of this project will be to establish a framework for on demand scanning (whereby a request is made, the article is scanned and transmitted and the electronic copy is discarded); phase II is the creation of a full‑text database to satisfy document requests.  The system will probably use an ingenious programme called Ariel which prints the document on the recipient’s printer and then wipes the electronic version, thereby avoiding many of the troublesome issues of copyright.  This project is planned for the Autumn and bulletins will be posted on the Website.  (COSEELIS members may be interested to know that there is also a list of National Library publications available at their site:

    ILIAC (  This project, led in Russia by the GPNTB, is in its early stages but aims to establish an ‘information gateway’ between Russia and the US (and possibly the UK in the future).  Included within its sights are document delivery and ILL, distance learning schemes and online databases (‑db/ ‑ this section is particularly worth viewing and includes an experimental database of descriptions/abstracts in Russian/English of 2000 Russian journals).  The project has attracted some funding from the US and RF but future sources of income remain unclear.  An article consisting of an interview with Iakov Shraiberg (the most active person in the sphere of automation and networking in Russia) in his capacity as Chairman of ILIAC, appeared in Biblioteka 1997, no.  11 and has been translated by Ron Hogg.

    Goskomstat ‑ Goskomstat plan to launch their Website in the near future which will include lists of statistical and of official publications (hitherto hard to come by) and a facility for ordering items.


    A high‑level contingent of Russian information specialists and librarians arrived in London to attend Online Info ’97 held at Olympia, December 9 to 11 1997.  A group of twenty, led by Dr.  Andrei Zemskov and Dr.  Iakov Shraiberg, Director and First Deputy Director respectively of the Russian National Public Library for Science and Technology, arranged a pre‑conference trip to Glasgow and Edinburgh on the 4th‑6th December, 1997.  Their aim was to advance their knowledge of information technology systems and techniques employed in libraries, and to establish contacts for collaborative activities

    On Thursday, 4th December, a business meeting was held with Professor Kirkwood (Director of CERDU, the Central European Research and Development Unit and Head of the Department of Slavonic Languages and Literatures), Professor John Lowenhardt (Director of IREES, the Institute of Russian and East European Studies) and Professor Stephen White (Head of Department of Politics).  A less rigorous, but equally fruitful, welcoming dinner was held in the evening.

    Friday’s morning session began with an official welcome by Mr Henry Heaney, the Librarian of Glasgow University, followed by a lively, questioning, session on IT developments in Glasgow University Library led by Mr William Nixon, to the Library’s IT Services.  The scheduled tour of the University Library, including the newly completed extensions, aroused more loudly expressed interest and urgent questioning than similar group events normally provoke.

    The afternoon session was devoted to a visit to the Mitchell Library.  There the group was welcomed by the Librarian, Mr Andrew Miller, and given a tour of the Library and an account of the latest developments.  The interest generated kept the staff busy until the start of the second half of the visit when the members of the group were invited to join a reception given at the Mitchell Library for IFLA members assessing the potential of Glasgow as a venue for the IFLA conference in 2002.  This invitation was accepted with enthusiasm.  That both groups should be at the Mitchell Library at the same time was coincidental, but the occasion was employed by Andrew Miller to advantage and with generosity.  Presentations and speeches were made, and useful contacts established.  The warmth of the hospitality persuaded the Russians that Glasgow should be visited every year.  And there was yet more hospitality to come.  The University of Glasgow provided a reception buffet during the evening hosted by Professor Mike Kirkwood, and attended by academic staff with Russian interests.  Animated conviviality probably best describes the evening.

    Saturday morning was devoted to a visit to the National Library of Scotland, Edinburgh.  After a welcome ‑ in Russian ‑ from the Librarian, Mr I D McGowan, Dr Yakov Shraiberg and Dr Andrei Zemskov gave a stimulating presentation on ILIAC, the International Library, Information and Analytical Center.  The Center has just opened its first office in Washington, DC.  and the project manager, Dr Yakov Shraiberg, is exploring the possibility of opening a similar centre in the UK to serve all of Europe.  Tours around the Library then followed, organised by the Head of the Business Library, Mr John Coll .

    The professional aspects of the visit were appreciated and enjoyed.  There is no doubting the success of the occasion from this point of view.  The same assessment may be made of reactions to social and shopping facilities in Glasgow and Edinburgh ‑ uses of which were squeezed ingeniously, and with panache, into a tight programme of activities!

    Members of this Russian group were sufficiently intent upon the visit and its potential benefits to cover their own costs of travelling from London and accommodation in Glasgow.  However, more was needed to ensure that arrangements worked smoothly, and that the best use was made of the short time available.  From the professional viewpoint the willing contributions of the Librarians of Glasgow University Library, the Mitchell Library and the National Library of Scotland, and of the academic staff who gave of their time and opinions, were crucial to the sense of satisfaction undeniably experienced, and fulsomely expressed, by the Russian participants.  This level of appreciation would not have been attained without the benefits deriving from supportive hospitality and travel arrangements.  The costs of these were shouldered by generous donations from the Britain Russian Centre, the Scottish Library Association and COSEELIS, the Council for Slavonic and East European Library and Information Services.  Without their assistance both the quality and scope of the experiences provided would have proved far less noteworthy.

    Tania Konn Deputy Director, CERDU University of Glasgow December l 997


    The BL Slavonic Website ( has been revamped.  It should now be easier to navigate and you will find several new pages, including:

    ‑ A list of Pre‑Revolutionary Russian Bonds

    ‑ A description of the Tyrkova‑Williams Collection (documenting the Civil war period)

    ‑ A Select List of Russian Patriotic Publications (1991‑) ‑ A list of Microform Collections held in DSC and London ‑ The Balkan Crisis (1990‑)

    ‑ Recent Acquisitions ‑ Books Published During the Siege of Sarajevo

    All these pages can be found via the Index Page.

    The following Internet Guides have also been revised and enlarged:

    ‑ The Guide to Slavonic Resources

    ‑ The Guide to Russian Resources (maintained with the assistance of the VGBIL)

    ‑ The Guide to Hungarian Resources

    Of particular interest will be the sections on Law and Politics, and new information on Russian Libraries.

    The British Library has also made its catalogues available free on the Web at:

    Oliver Hughes

    British Library Slavonic and East European Collections

    © COSEELIS.  Views expressed in this Newsletter are not necessarily those of COSEELIS.

    Editor: Oliver Hughes, Slavonic and East European Collections, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NWI 2DB, tel: (0171) 412 7589, fax: (0171) 412 7554 email: