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Searching for Cyrillic items in the catalogue of the British Library: guidelines and transliteration tables

In order to locate Cyrillic items in the British Library catalogue, it is important to be aware of the following information about transliteration schemes employed by the Library.

Searches may be carried out in the online , via Explore the British Library.

Contents

Cyrillic and transliterated entries in Explore the British Library

Post-1975 publications
Pre-1975 publications
Publications where the date is unknown
Periodicals
Searching
Browsing
Church Slavonic

Transliteration schemes

British Museum transliteration table
Library of Congress transliteration table

Examples
Contact

Cyrillic and transliterated entries in the Integrated Catalogue

Post-1975 publications

Personal authors, corporate bodies (e.g. organisations and institutions) and titles of items published after 1975 are transliterated by the Library of Congress scheme and should be searched using these spellings. Although most authors, like Chekhov for example, are treated in this way, there are also a small number of classic authors, such as Leo Tolstoy, that are transliterated according to well-know forms found in reference works. When searching for this material, diacritics including soft signs can be ignored.

Pre-1975 publications

For items published before 1975, authors have been transliterated according to the British Museum scheme, while titles remain in Cyrillic.

To enter a keyword in Cyrillic (when searching on the Integrated Catalogue in the British Library Reading Rooms) it is necessary to paste Cyrillic text from a drop-down floating keyboard into the title search box. To do this, click on the 'Applications' icon in the web browser tool bar at the top of the screen, select 'Aleph keyboard (non-Latin characters)' and click on the Cyrillic tab. Click on each of the characters you wish to insert, then place the cursor in the Catalogue's search box and right-click to paste the Cyrillic text from the floating keyboard (there is no need to highlight the text first).

When searching the Integrated Catalogue remotely on the web, keywords in Cyrillic can be entered by using the appropriate keyboard layout provided by Windows and other operation systems. For pre-revolutionary (pre-1917) items it is important to remember to enter keywords using the old spelling (all the extra letters needed, such as the pre-revolutionary "i", are available from the floating keyboard installed on the BL Reading Room PCs). It is also possible to carry out a combined author/title search by entering a surname in transliteration and a title keyword in Cyrillic in the search box, but often a more effective method is to enter a surname and date of publication, if not too many hits are expected.

For pre-1975 publications, corporate bodies (e.g. organisations and institutions) and uniform titles (a distinctive title under which different translations or varying titles of the same work are brought together) are transliterated by the Library of Congress scheme in the Integrated Catalogue.

For printed music publications all titles are transliterated by the Library of Congress scheme in the Integrated Catalogue, regardless of date of publication.

Publications where the date in unknown

For authors whose works span both pre- and post-1975 publication dates, or where the date is unknown, it is recommended that both an author/title search (Library of Congress transliteration) and a combined author (British Museum transliteration) + title (in Cyrillic) search be carried out. This should retrieve both pre- and post-1975 editions of the author's works. There is also a certain amount of pre-1975 material acquired more recently, for which authors and titles have been transliterated by the Library of Congress scheme.

Periodicals

Periodical titles need to be searched according to the date of the first issue, regardless of the date of the volume required. If the title was first published before 1975, the keywords should be entered in the title search box in Cyrillic and, if post-1975, in transliteration (Library of Congress scheme).

Searching

The truncation mark "?" can be used to stand in for letters where the spelling is not certain, and must be used for pre-1975 items with surnames/title words including a soft sign, e.g. Gor?ky.

Browsing

It is possible to browse on authors and titles using the indexes provided, but the date of publication should again be borne in mind (i.e. follow the rules given above) when deciding on the way the surname or title is entered. This method is always recommended when you are unsure of the spelling in Cyrillic. Where the spelling of the whole name or title is not certain, the first few letters of the name can be used in browsing the appropriate index.

Church Slavonic

There is a separate Library of Congress transliteration scheme for Church Slavonic texts, available at the Humanities Floor 1 Reference Enquiry Desk, although some letters are included in this guide.
The floating keyboard includes Church Slavonic characters (select the "OCS" tab).
The absence of diacritics will not affect a search.

 

Transliteration schemes

British Museum transliteration

British Museum transliteration

Library of Congress transliteration

Library of Congress transliteration

Examples

For illustration, please view some British Museum and Library of Congress transliteration examples below.

Transliteration examples

Contact

Slavonic and East European Studies
European Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London
NW1 2DB
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0) -- please write to us:

E-mail: slavonic@bl.uk

Peter W. Hellyer, Curator, Russian Studies
European Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
London
NW1 2DB
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7582

E-mail: peter.hellyer@bl.uk