Systematic collecting of printed material from Russia and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe began in the British Museum Library in the 1840s, though some rare items date further back to the 'foundation collection' of Sir Hans Sloane, and the collections of King George III, Sir Joseph Banks and Frederick, Lord North, Fifth Earl of Guilford. By the end of the 19th century, holdings were unrivalled outside the countries of origin.
Levels of acquisition slumped between 1914 and the mid-1950s but many gaps were filled later. From the late 1950s onwards until the end of the communist period, a large network of exchanges with libraries of all kinds in the region ensured wide coverage. The coverage of material from all the countries of Central and Eastern Europe continued intensively in the post-Communist period.
From 1989 onwards, while continuing to collect widely in all areas of the humanities, arts and social sciences, including imaginative literature, special efforts have been made to acquire material which reflects the social, political and economic aspects of democratic change and major areas of academic enquiry which were previously subject to heavy censorship e.g. Jewish studies, minorities, relations with neighbours to the East and West. All in all, the collections are richer and more wide-ranging than those of any other UK library.
Collection development policy
A wide range of current printed research-level humanities and social sciences material (including laws and official publications) published in the following countries of Central and Eastern Europe:
Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and the other countries of the former Soviet Union (all languages except for Oriental), as well as Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Serbia and Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, Bulgaria and Albania.
Material in the languages of those countries published elsewhere in the world is also collected.
Large microform collections and electronic publications are acquired in consultation with other UK libraries.
Early-printed materials are acquired occasionally - normally dependent on special funding.
Research Support Libraries Programme (RSLP) Projects
One of four main partners in RSLP COCOREES (Collaborative Collection Management for Russian and East European Studies) project.
Involvement in RSLP FLAG project for collaboration with the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (headed by Social Policy Information Service) over Russian and EE legislative material.
Slavonic and East European Studies
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