A digitised card catalogue for Russian books

One of the problems of using common databases such as OCLC/WorldCat when researching Russian books is their comparative incompleteness. Many titles simply aren’t listed at all.

A free online resource I like to use is the old card catalogue of the National Library of Russia in St Petersburg which has been digitised on their website: https://nlr.ru/e-case3/sc2.php/web_gak. I type an author’s surname in Cyrillic in, say, Word, then copy and paste it into the search field (or you can use the little keyboard feature next to the search box). You can then click through the results, which, along with pagination etc, will often give you the first name and patronymic of the author (Russian title-pages frequently give an author’s initials rather than their full name), and their dates, and obviously you can also see what other books they wrote to help put the book you’re researching into some kind of context. Sometimes the cards have been annotated by helpful Russian librarians, too, giving further details.

By using this albeit slightly old-fashioned online catalogue, I have often found information which is simply not available in Western catalogues.

Simon Beattie, member of Council