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Image of original cover of Half a Century of Soviet Serials 1917-1968Half a Century of Soviet Serials 1917-1968.
A Bibliography and Union List of Serials
Published in the USSR

Compiled by Rudolf Smits
Reference Department
Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1968.

Volume 1: A-N

Volume 2: O-Z

Every Slavic librarian in the United States has used Rudolf Smits' bibliography Half a Century of Soviet Serials. Published before the Internet and the introduction of online library catalogs, this bibliography was a mainstay for verifying serials published in the Soviet Union and identifying the holdings of US and Canadian libraries. Even today it remains an important tool for locating holdings, as the Library of Congress does not yet provide all serial holdings in its online catalog and many American research libraries have not fully converted their older foreign language holdings into online records. Murlin Croucher in Slavic Studies describes Half a Century of Soviet Serials as "an invaluable source of serial information."

According to its preface, this bibliography details "all known serial publications [except newspapers] appearing in the Soviet Union . . . since 1917, in all except oriental languages, such as Armenian, Georgian, Kirghiz, etc." Many titles published in the various former republics are included, but a serial must have a Russian title page and some text in Russian for it to qualify for inclusion. A complementary bibliography of non-Russian Soviet serials was planned, but never completed. Although the entries are numbered at 27,699, there are actually 29,761 because of last minute titles inserted with alphanumeric IDs. The entries are constructed according to the old Rules for Descriptive Cataloging in the Library of Congress, that is, for corporate bodies that are perceived as being permanently physically located in a particular place, one must look under the place. For example, publications by universities are found under the city (in its English spelling) in which they are located, e.g., Moscow. Universitet. Filologicheskii fakul'tet. Doklady i soobshcheniia. Corporate bodies that are not permanently tied to physical locations, such as societies that can move from place to place, will be found under the name of the society, e.g., Obshchestvo po izucheniiu Kryma, Simferopol. Biulleten'. Fortunately, there are over 28,000 cross references to help mitigate potential confusion. The bibliography uses the Library of Congress' romanization (transliteration) system.

As a union list, Half a Century of Soviet Serials provides locations of U.S. and Canadian libraries that hold issues of the serial titles included. Detailed holdings are given for the Library of Congress, but symbols only are listed for other libraries. The library symbols, a complete list of which is found in the prefatory materials in both volumes, are the same as those used in the Union List of Serials and the National Union Catalog. The abbreviation "w" is used to indicate that LC lacks or "wants" a particular volume or issue. An asterisk indicates that no library in the United States or Canada was found to hold that title. The LC holdings and call numbers are still mostly correct except for items marked Cyr. 4 and Unclass. Please check LC's online catalog or email the European Division at [email protected] for more information about those items. Half a Century of Soviet Serials expands and supersedes Smits' earlier bibliography, Serials Publications of the Soviet Union, 1939-1957.

Rudolf Smits (1907-1972), the compiler of this bibliography, enjoyed a long and distinguished administrative and bibliographic career at the Library of Congress. After working for the American Legation in Riga from 1928-1934 and serving as the Secretary to the Latvian legation in Washington from 1936-1940, Smits joined the Library of Congress in 1945 as the chief of the Census Library Project, which was charged with compiling bibliographies of publications of U.S. and international censuses and vital statistics, filling lacunae in the Library's collection of such publications, as well as conducting reference work involving population research. In late 1945 he became the head of the Documents Section in the Serial Record Division. He remained until 1948, when he began a brief stint as the chief of the Government Publications Reading Room in the Serial Division. In 1949 he took over as head of the Bibliography Unit, Air Information Section in the Air Studies Division. Smits' unit was responsible for compiling bibliographies, maintaining the Slavic Union Catalog, and producing abstracts of foreign information sources on topics of interest to the U.S. Air Force. He also served as Chairman of the Special Committee on Eastern European Publications. In January of 1952 the Slavic Union Catalog was transferred to the newly formed Cyrillic Union Catalog section in the Reference Department and Smits was appointed chief and supervised a staff of 27 in creating the Cyrillic Union Catalog and the monthly List of Russian Accessions. In 1970 after the demise of the Cyrillic Union Catalog section, Smits joined the Serial Record Division where he worked on the renowned bibliography produced by the Library of Congress, New Serial Titles.

Half a Century of Soviet Serials is also linked to a permanent entry in the Library of Congress catalog.

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  December 8, 2016
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