Search for resources in microforms

A microfilm roll of negative/COM Output.

The following is a guide on searching for resources in microforms.

Published date:

Material in microform is acquired if it is not available in hard copy (e.g. old newspapers or books that had been destroyed as a result of bombing during the Second World War). Newspapers, periodicals and monographs can be found on the Explore the British Library catalogue – please consult Searching for Cyrillic items in the catalogue of the British Library.

Another large category of microform resources consists of archival documents or ‘curated’ collections, such as national biographical archives, ephemera collections, selected books on one topic. Full catalogue records are available for all collections and they also can be found on Explore the British Library.

Most of the records have subject headings, so if you are not searching on title, key words in English or the original language of the collection will help. E.g. to find women’s periodicals from the series Russian women's serials from the National Library of Russia, St. Petersburg on microfiche (Norman Ross Publishing Inc.), the best option would be to search on “women periodicals norman ross”; otherwise – search on broader terms and refine your results later. Most of archival collection guides are available in hard copy on open access in the Rare Books Reading Room, some might be available from the publishers’ websites. For some collections one might need to order the first reel(s) to be able to navigate through the collection. 

All materials on microfilm and microfiche can be consulted in the St. Pancras Reading Rooms. Some microfilms can be ordered on inter-library loan (a maximum of 10 consecutive reels may be borrowed against one request; the maximum loan period is 15 weeks). Alternatively, collections that are stored at our storage facility in Boston Spa can be consulted in the Boston Spa reading room. Newspapers on microfilms can be consulted in our Newsroom.

Some useful tips related to the most difficult to navigate microform collection

Archives of the Soviet Communist Party and Soviet State (Russian State Archives Service, 1993-). The series contains:

  1. RGANI (Russian State Archive of Contemporary History). This archive contains Fond 6 'Committee for Party Control' and Fond 89 'The Communist Party on Trial'. [Shelfmarks: Opisi/Finding aids MFR-11040 (when ordering for consultation, quote reel numbers 1.12 for Opisi 1-4 of Fond 6, 1.13 for Opisi 5-9 of Fond 6 and 1.988 for Opisi 1-76 of Fond 89); Dela/Documents MFR-11041]. The English-language guide to Fond 89 is shelved on open access in the Rare Books and Music Reading Room at RAM324.247.
  2. GRASPI (Russian State Archive of Social and Political History) This archive contains Fond 17 'Central Committee of the Communist Party of the USSR'. [Shelfmarks: Opisi/Finding aids MFR-11042 (when ordering for consultation, quote reel numbers 2.1-2.55); Dela / Documents: MFR-11043]. Seee full collection guide   
  3. GARF (State Archive of the Russian Federation). This archive contains Fond r-393 'People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD RSFSR)', Fond r-4042 'RSFSR NKVD: chief administration of places of confinement (GUMZ) 1922-1930', Fond r-9414 'USSR MVD: chief administration of places of confinement (GUMZ) 1930-1960' [Shelfmarks: Opisi/Finding aids MFR-11044 (when ordering for consultation, quote reel numbers 3.1-3.168, 3.255-3.349, 3.837); Dela/Documents MFR-11045]

Search for collections 

We do not have the full range of collections of primary source material from the major publishers, but please consult their websites and search on collection titles in our catalogue:

Useful links to collection guides


Collection guides

Russian and Soviet posters and postcards

Russian and Soviet posters and postcards from the 20th century

Polish, Hungarian, Czech and Slovak collections

One of the leading research collections in the world for the study of Central Europe

Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian performing arts collections

We have an extensive collection of print and electronic material to support research in Film and Performing Arts Studies

South-East European collections

We have an extensive collection of library and archival material for the study of South-East Europe

Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian and Baltic collections

One of the leading research collections in the world for Slavonic and Baltic studies

The Tyrkova-Williams Collection

A collection of letters and papers of Harold Whitmore Williams and Ariadna Vladimirovna, neé Tyrkova.

Georgian collections

About 8,000 volumes of printed books, periodicals and newspapers, and a range of other materials including manuscripts, maps, music scores and sound recordings.

Russian statistical publications

A comprehensive collection of statistical publications from all over the world, including Russia

Russian avant-garde collections

An extensive collection of avant-garde books of the early 20th century

India Office Records: Central Asia Resources

Central Asian resources in the archives of the East India Company and the pre-1947 government of India