As a result of a large-scale digitisation project we have digitised about 6000 items from our collection of 19th-century printed books. This includes about 500 Russian books – published in Russia or in the Russian language.
To find out what books from the British Library collections are available electronically free of charge, please search on Explore the British Library. Most of the books are coded by language, so if you choose to limit your search by language, simply choose “Russian” from the drop-down menu. However, you would need to know something else about the books you are looking for (e.g., author, title, place or date of publication). Please bear in mind that the titles and headings should be searched in Cyrillic. We are trying to update old records, but due to the size of the collection this project might take quite some time to complete.
The British Library also subscribes to a number of electronic resources, which are listed among other Slavonic and East European electronic resources. Some of these databases are bibliographic databases, and others – give access to the full-text material. The databases published by East View contain current periodicals and statistical publications. Integrum not only provides access to full-text periodicals, but also to some reference and born-digital material. A small collection of electronic books (mostly Russian classics) is also available from the Integrum database:
Cover of LEF, 1 March 1923
At the moment the British Library subscribes to four full-text databases of printed material and one archival database published by IDC within the series Mass Culture & Entertainment in Russia. Their databases give access to collections of extremely rare material: page-by-page scans of old Russian books and serials related to film, theatre and sports.
There are numerous full-text databases that contain Russian-language material. They may be freely available or contain a mixture of free and charged resources. One does not need to be a BL reader to get access to them. We always welcome any suggestions on what electronic resources we should subscribe to in order to help our users. Every suggestion or comment will be considered, but only resources within our scope and budget can be purchased.
Here is a very select list of such resources and useful links
Russian libraries also try to create electronic libraries and digitise their resources. If you cannot find a Russian book in the British Library or any other UK library, it is always worth checking on the websites of the major Russian libraries, but please bear in mind that most of them would only digitise their collections of material not covered by copyright, so one should not really expect to find the most recent publications in such digital collections.
- Электронная библиотека РГБ (The Russian State Library digital collection). Free resource.
- Электронная библиотека РНБ (The National Library of Russia digital collection). Mainly paid resource, BL has no access; several databases are free.
- Электронная библиотека ГПНТБ СО РАН (The State Public Library for Science and Technology of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences digital collection) Free resource.
- Электронная библиотека ВГБИЛ (The All-Russia State Library for Foreign literature digital collection). Free, but unlike the digital collections above, this is a collection of links to free full-text books collected from all over the internet, not just the material that the Library itself holds.
It is sometimes useful to check the databases and portals aimed at students studying in the Russian Federation:
- Университетская информационная система России Free, but registration is required to get access to some resources; mainly social science resources.
- Электронная библиотека образовательных и просветительных изданий Free, but registration is required to get access to full-text books (mainly modern social science material, published in recent years).
- Infolio: Университетская электронная библиотека Free full-text digitised books, the library covers mainly fiction and humanities.
- Библиотекарь.Ру Free resource; non-fiction digitised books on arts and humanities
- Издание литературы в электронном виде Free resource; Russian classical authors, Russian prose of 19th and 20th centuries, books on Russian history, etc.
- Цифровая библиотека по философии Free resource; a collection of digitised material on philosophy in Russian
- Библиотека русской религиозно-философской и художественной литературы «Вехи» Free resource; a collection of digitised material on philosophical and religious thought
Some research level publications also could be found on the internet:
- Русский филологический портал – a free collection of digitised monographs on Russian philology
- Филолог.ру – a free collection of texts and research material on Russian literature, including a full digital archive of the journal Grazhdanin (The Citizen) edited by F.M.Dostoevskii and his other journals Vremia (The Time) and Epokha (the Epoch)
- Электронные публикации Института Русской литературы РАН – a free collection of research publications produced by the Institute of Russian Literature of the Russian Academy of Sciences (St. Petersburg), including such important publications as Trudy otdela drevnerusskoi literatury and XVIII vek.
The database of patents Роспатент is entirely commercial, but a test version is available for free.
The analytical portal Public.RU - Интернет-библиотека СМИ is a charged resource which specialises in providing analytical summaries on topics discussed in the Russian-language media. It might be useful if information is needed quickly and in a structured way.
Russian literature online was and still is a subject of both public controversy and scholarly research. You might be interested to read Henrike Scmidt’s article («Holy Cow» and «Eternal Flame». Russian Online Libraries In: Kultura. 1/2009. February) on this subject. Here is a short list of the most famous on-line libraries:
- Электронная библиотека художественной литературы
- Русская виртуальная литература
- Lib.ru – библиотека Максима Мошкова
- Фундаментальная электронная библиотека. Русская литература и фольклор
- Некоммерческая электронная библиотека ImWerden
The International Coalition on Newspapers (ICON) published on their website a list of digitisation projects that are being carried out in different countries, including Russia.
Some current periodicals can also be accessed free online.
Zhurnal’nyi zal – is a well-known and well-established collection of current journals, free, but not all the materials are available in a full-text version. This is the most comprehensive collection of current Russian periodicals.
Here are some examples of individual titles:
Katya Rogatchevskaia, Lead Curator, Russian Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7587
Peter W. Hellyer, Curator, Russian Studies
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Tel: +44 (0)20 7412 7582