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Former Yugoslav Collections: Overview

An overview of the Former Yugoslav collections, illustrated by specific examples.


The collections of the Former Yugoslavia comprise publications written in three basic languages (Serbo-Croatian, Slovene and Macedonian). Holdings include some early Croatian and Montenegrin printed material in the 15th and 16th centuries, in Latin, Glagolitic and Old Church Slavonic script.

The Yugoslav collections contain unique research material, which traces the evolution of South Slav culture and history from the late 16th century to the 1990s. The collections include general histories of the South Slavs, and material covering Bosnia and Hercegovina, Croatia and Slavonia, Dalmatia, Dubrovnik, Macedonia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia and Vojvodina. Material following the development of the Yugoslav State, from 'the Eastern Question', the Balkan Wars, World War I and Yugoslav unification through the interwar years to liberation and the establishment of the post-war Socialist Yugoslavia is well represented.

The Library holds good runs of post-war academic series, principal official publications, and holdings in the areas of literature, ethnography and the arts are good. Special attention has been paid to the acquisition of material reflecting the social and political changes in the region, the national movements and ethnic conflicts which characterised the transitional 1980s and 1990s. The collections now contain previously forbidden newspapers and journals, as well as party manifestos, drafts of laws and proposals for economic reform. Wherever possible, those items destroyed during World War II have been replaced.

The Library aims to collect all possible material from the newly independent states in the territories of the former Yugoslavia even under very difficult circumstances (war, sanctions, etc). At the moment, the British Library holds the best material in the United Kingdom on the Balkan Crisis and issues which have dominated the political agenda in the wake of the collapse of Yugoslavia, covering war, genocide, ethnic cleansing, human rights, refugees, territorial maps, peace conferences, war crimes; some newspaper cuttings are also held.

After the collapse of Yugoslavia in the 1990s, several new independent countries were created: the Republic of Slovenia, the Republic of Croatia, the Republic of Bosnia and Hercegovina, the Republic of Macedonia and the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro.

Catalogues, printed guides and other resources

Former Yugoslav material is listed in the printed volumes of the British Library General Catalogue of Printed Books to 1975 (for material acquired before 1975 only) and searchable online via Explore the British Library, which is accessible via the internet. Material acquired and catalogued prior to 1975 is in Cyrillic (with headings in transliteration); post-1975 material, however, is displayed in transliterated form, according to Library of Congress rules. For information on searching and transliteration please see Searching for Cyrillic items in the catalogues of the British Library: guidelines and transliteration tables.

Catalogues and printed guides

  • Explore the British Library
  • The Balkan crisis, 1990-: catalogue [Part 1], compiled by Sava Peic and Magda Szkuta [2719.k.2515]
  • The Balkan crisis, 1990-: catalogue [Part 2], compiled by Sadie Morgan-Cheshire and Magda Szkuta [2719.k.2515]
  • Cyrillic books printed before 1701 in British and Irish collections: a union catalogue, compiled by R. Cleminson, C. Thomas, D. Radoslavova, A. Voznesenskij (London: The British Library, 2000) [HLR011.440947]
  • Church Slavonic entries from the British Library General Catalogue [prepared by Brad Sabin Hill] (London: The British Library, 1992) [2725.g.1675]
  • Walker, Gregory. Library resources in Britain for the study of Eastern Europe and the former U.S.S.R., compiled by Gregory Walker and Jackie Johnson (Wheatley: G. Walker, 1992) [revised edition in progress] [2719.k.1162].

Other resources

Material from the Former Yugoslavia elsewhere in the British Library

Milan Grba, Lead Curator, South-East European Studies
European Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7590