Newsletter No 36

ISSN 0966-999X
No. 36, November 2008
Pages 1 – 4
Issued 03 December 2008

Council for Slavonic and East European Library and Information Services


  • Message from the Editor
  • Update on EBSEES
  • Leeds Russian Archive
  • Digest of Treasurer’s Report November 2008 update
  • Profile of The London Library
  • Library News Round-up
  • Deadline for next newsletter

Message from the Editor: Here included are articles and news items held over from the May 2008 issue as well as more recent news items.

Update on EBSEES

In May 2007, the COSEELIS Newsletter included a report on the end of work on the European Bibliography of Slavic and East European Studies (EBSEES).  At that time, it was hoped that the Maison des Sciences de l’Homme (MSH) might be able to keep the online version of the EBSEES databases running for some years to come, but without undertaking any further development work.

In fact, the position regarding EBSEES is now much more positive. The Berlin State Library (SBB) agreed to make staff and resources available to ensure that the online databases were not only preserved, but merged and given a user-friendly search interface.  The data files were transferred from the MSH and then Ivo Ulrich and his colleagues at the SBB began to merge the two very different databases.  This required a lot of work on the representation of special characters used in East European languages, and on manipulating the classification scheme used in the older EBSEES records to generate subject headings compatible with those used in EBSEES from 2001. A new search interface was also created, with up-to-date search and browse facilities.

The version of EBSEES now offered through the Slavistics Portal ( the SBB has a number of the latest Web 2.0 features.  Thanks to the SRU standard interface it is compatible with metasearch facilities (such as Metalib and iPort). Search Engine Optimization means that individual EBSEES records are visible to search engines – they are no longer buried in the deep web.  Use of information visualization techniques has created a Tag Cloud, a different way of browsing.  EBSEES is linked to the Karlsruhe Virtual Catalogue (KVK) which allows users to find out about the availability of a book in a number of national libraries and union catalogues, including COPAC. Moreover the COinS-interface allows automated searching for the full text of articles and the export of records into reference management software.

The final version of EBSEES now available to users contains over 85,000 records for the period 1991 to 2007.  Users will notice minor differences in the results, according to whether the record came from the old or new EBSEES database, and there are a few duplicate records.  It is possible to search in Cyrillic, but this should be used cautiously as it will only retrieve records for publications after 2001.  There are fewUKrecords for 2002 and later, but data for many of the other contributing countries is more up-to-date. At present there are no plans to digitise the printed volumes for 1975-1990, some 100,000 records.

We would like to invite you to use the new version of EBSEES, which is available at:

There are two search options – a simple search (word anywhere) and an advanced search (Author/Title/Subject).  Subject searches can be done by using subject headings or from the Tag Cloud.   It is possible to refine a subject search by typing a second term (such as a country) into the search box. Results display in alphabetical order of title.

Please try out the new EBSEES and let us have your comments.

Jenny Brine

Ivo Ulrich

April 2008

Leeds Russian Archive

In December 2007 the first volume (of a projected 23) of the first critical edition of the literary works, journalism, letters and diaries of Leonid Andreev (1871-1919) was published in Moscow by “Nauka”, the imprint of the Russian Academy of Sciences. This was the culmination of a collaborative project initiated by the RAS Institutes of World and Russian Literature (MoscowandSt Petersburg) and theUniversityofLeedsin 1993 and subsequently awarded an EU INTAS grant.

For the first time in the history of Russian critical (“akademicheskie”) editions a foreign institution, namely theUniversityofLeeds, was included among the sponsoring bodies listed on the pre-title page.

(There were long deliberations about the correct spelling of the adjective from “Lids” — “lidskii” or “lidsskii”, with the latter winning.) The appointment of a foreign scholar, in this case Richard Davies, to the editorial board was also a first. Richard Davies co-edited the first volume with his fellow deputy chief editor, Mikhail Koz’menko (RAS Institute of World Literature), who manages the database that unites the Andreev manuscript holdings of archives in Leeds,Moscow,Orel,St Petersburgand Stanford (California) and combines them with the commentaries of some 15 Russian and Western scholars.

Further volumes will be published out of numerical sequence in order to present works from different genres (stories, plays, journalism, letters, diaries), with volume 5 the next to go to press, all being well, later this year.

Richard Davies,LeedsRussian Archive – May 2008

Digest of Treasurer’s Report November 2008 update

The financial position of COSEELIS is steady and the 2008 conference made a profit of £41.33p. So far, nobody has used the Hospitality Fund.

A bunch of rogue direct debits was applied to the account (Essex and Suffolk Water and Tesco Insurance: probably an innocent mistake!) and refunded, so the account has been set to bar all direct debits for the moment.

There are 24 institutional members (one up on 2007) and 8 personal members (2 down on 2007.)

Maureen Pinder keeps the membership lists up to date following Data Protection Act guidelines and is currently updating the  Register of members’ interests. Please send Maureen any alterations: Maureen Pinder [] – November 2008


Profile of The London Library

The London Library was founded in1841 by Thomas Carlyle to provide the richness of a national library for use at home and is now the world’s largest independent lending library.

Founding members included Charles Dickens, William Thackeray (the Library’s first auditor), Alfred Lord Tennyson and George Eliot. Among past presidents were Kipling and T.S.Eliot.

The Library is a registered charity, entirely financed through its subscriptions, donations and management of its capital resources and has always been self-governing. Incorporated by Royal Charter in 1933, it has a royal patron, an elected President (currently Sir Tom Stoppard) and Vice-Presidents. The long-term strategicgovernance lies in then hands of a body of volunteer Trustees.

The collections mainly include printed material within the Humanities range of subjects, including foreign language materials (French, German, Italian, Russian, and Spanish). Special emphasis is placed on Literature, History, Art, Biography, British Local History and Travel Writing. All the volumes are bound in hard cases and are available on the open shelves, except for a tiny minority which is kept in safes. There are 15 miles of stacks to browse and nothing is ever discarded. The in-house classification system is rather a list of subject locations than a real scheme.

The Russian collection is mainly printed material and at a very rough estimate contains 20,000-25,000 Russian items, currently around 12K records on Aleph. Russian was a special interest for two librarians: Robert Harrison (1857-1893), who had lived and worked in Russia, and Sir Charles Hagberg Wright (1893-1941), who was a friend of Tolstoy and Gor’ky and who had a strong interest in Russian politics and revolutionary movements as well as more mainstream subjects such as Art, Literature and History, hence the strong holdings for the period 1905-1918. Important book donations include Baddeley, 1920s on the Caucasus andCentral Asia; Tibor Szamuely 1973 on the early Soviet history period; Isaiah Berlin 2000; Sussex University 2007.

In 2006 the Russian collections were named in honour of Marit and Hans Rausing.

The collections are split: the beautiful original building has staircases sporting framed prints and drawings and mahogany banisters, the stacks have steel slatted floors (unsuitable for stiletto heels!) and a stuffed owl. There is a magnificent Reading Room with an annexe for laptop use. By contrast, the beautiful new block just recently opened and named T.S.Eliot House, adjoins the old building, enabling the collections to expa

Adapted from Claudia Ricci’s handout.

Library news round-up

The late Tom Bonington

Earlier this year we learnt of the death of Tom Bonington (formerly Hnik) who worked for many years as the Slavonic cataloguer at Birmingham University Library.  There is an obituary published in the May 2008 issue of CILIP Update (p. 46).

From: Dr Jenny Brine, University Library Bailrigg Lancaster – May 2008

COSEELIS Conference Coordinator

Nick Hearn, who did such a terrific job with this year’s conference, has agreed to take up the new committee role of conference coordinator.

From: Lesley Pitman, SSEES, UCL, London – April 2008

Cofor book transfers:

Wojciech Janik agreed in April to take on the committee role of coordinating transfers within the terms of the Cofor agreement. So if you do have any collections to transfer, please contact Wojciech in the first instance (

From: Lesley Pitman & Wojciech Janik, SSEES, UCL, London – April & November 2008

New publication:

University Theses in Russian, Soviet and East European Studies, 1907-2006: A Centennial Bibliography of Research in the British Isles.  Compiled and edited by Gregory Walker and J.S.G. Simmons. London: Modern Humanities Research Association, 2008.  256pp.  ISBN 978-0-947623-80-7.  £30.00 / $65.00

From: Gregory P.M. Walker, Oxford – May 2008

Two new online subscriptions:

Voprosy istorii archive, 1946-2004.  Published by EastView.

Soviet cinema database.  Published by IDC/Brill.

From: Ray Scrivens  R. Scrivens [] ,  Cambridge University Library – May 2008

2009 deadline for the Spring COSEELIS Newsletter !

Issue Number 37    ~   provisionally 30th June, 2009

Please e-mail articles and short pieces of news about developments in your library to me by 15th June, 2009 at    or by post to

Mrs Zara Frenkiel                                                                    Tel   020-7942-5248
Exchange Section – Library & Information Services
Fax  020-7942-5559
Cromwell Road
LondonSW7 5BD
Zara Frenkiel, Editor

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

 Editor: Zara Frenkiel, Exchange Section , Library & Information Services, The Natural History Museum, Cromwell Road, LONDON SW7 5BD, UK. Tel: (020) 7942-5248 Fax: (020) 7942-5559 Email: