Search for Cyrillic items in the catalogue

The Lviv Bukvar’ or ‘Azbuka Ivana Fedorova’, Lviv, 1574

The following is a guide on searching for Cyrillic items in the catalogue.

Published date:

Items written in the Cyrillic alphabet (in Slavonic and non-Slavonic languages) and acquired by the British Library before 1975 were catalogued partially in Cyrillic. Authors’ names were transliterated according to the British Museum scheme, 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) were transliterated according to various and sometimes mixed schemes, while main titles were entered into the catalogue in Cyrillic. After 1975 most British Library departments adopted the Library of Congress scheme, but a number of newspaper titles and science publications were still recorded using the BM scheme. For printed music publications all titles are transliterated by the Library of Congress scheme regardless of date of publication.

The most important differences between the two schemes of transliteration are:

  • Bulgarian letter ‘ъ’  (not final) - ă (BM scheme) and ŭ (LC scheme)
  • ‘Ӝ’ – missing (BM scheme) and j (LC scheme)
  • ‘Ы’ – ui (BM scheme) and y (LC scheme)
  • ‘Ю’ – yu (BM scheme) and iu (LC scheme)
  • ‘Я’ – ya (BM scheme) and ya (LC scheme)
  • Ukrainian ‘и’ – i (BM scheme) and y (LC  scheme)
  • Final ‘ий’ were transliterated according to the BM scheme as ‘y’ and final ‘ый’ as ‘uy’ (e.g. ‘Bednuy’, ‘Milyukov’, ‘kommunistichesky’, etc.)

Other differences will not significantly affect searches.

For searching in Cyrillic or for adding special characters (normally they do not affect searches) one can either switch languages in the Language Tool bar, use Open source floating keyboards or use Unicode tables. For pre-revolutionary Russian items it is important to remember to enter keywords and titles using the old spelling (e.g., the letter ‘ѣ’ and old forms of endings, such as ‘аго’ instead of the modern ‘ого’ ). The truncation mark "?" can be used to stand in for letters where the spelling is not certain. For older items it is recommended to run several searches trying to capture all possible variants of titles and names (e.g., Leo Tolstoy, Lev Tolstoi, Lew Tolstoj, etc.).

If you cannot find items that you believe should be in our collections, please contact us.

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