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Bosnia & Herzegovina and the Bosnian Collections in the Library of Congress

Materials in the General and Microform Collections

Image of Bosnian books on the shelf
Bosnian history books on the shelf. Library of Congress General Collections.

The preponderance of Bosnian and Herzegovinian materials in the Library of Congress is held in the general collections. Consisting of thousands of books, journals, and pamphlets, the materials cover all possible subjects with the exception of clinical medicine and technical agriculture, which are collected by the National Library of Medicine and the National Agriculture Library. Materials held in the general collections are findable by searching the Library of Congress Online Catalog.

The Bosnian collection, similarly to the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina itself, is illustrative of a mélange of cultures, from Serbian, Croatian and Bosniac to Jewish, Turkish, and German. The contents of this guide covers publications from or about the country of Bosnia and Herzegovina, not the publications of just one of these peoples. The largest subject is language and literature at 36% of the Bosnian book collection. In the collection are facsimiles of the 15th century Church Slavic manuscript Hvalov Zbornik [Hval's codex], of early documents utilizing the bosančica alphabet, and of the world-renowned Jewish text, the Sarajevo Haggadah. There are even a handful of books about aljamiado and its poets in Bosnia, that is, books written in the vernacular language, but printed in Arabic script. Represented are collected works and individual titles for all of the major Bosnian authors and poets from all eras, as well as many works of minor writers. Substantial holdings of authors such as Jovan Dučić, Antun Branko Šimić, Musa Ćazim Ćatić, and Alija Nametak, among many others, are present. The new critical edition with commentary of the collected works of Nobel laureate Ivo Andrić is a recent acquisition, but the Library also holds many previous printings of Andrić's literary output. Literary history and criticism is another subject that is prevalent in the collection.

The Library has most of the important dictionaries for Bosnian such as the Academy dictionary Rječnik bosanskog jezika, Narcis Saračević's dictionary of Sarajevo slang Rječnik sarajevskog žargona, and a dictionary of Turkish words and phrases in the Bosnian langauge Rječnik turcizama u bosanskom jeziku. There are also many smaller, specialized works as well as historical, bilingual, and foreign words and phrases dictionaries. Grammars, language textbooks, and linguistic studies are collected at a high level, with one of the latest orthographic manuals, Pravopis bosanskoga jezika, serving as an example . Besides works devoted to the Bosnian language, the Library's collection of dictionaries and linguistics studies on the B/C/M/S (Bosnian/Croatian/Montenegrin/Serbian) language as a whole are extensive

The history and politics of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Balkan peoples is a particular strength of the collection consisting of several thousand titles or 18% of the Bosnian book collection. Books on all aspects of Bosnian history and politics are collected, including the works of all major publishers and scholars from the 20th century, but books from the post-communist era are particularly extensive. The Library of Congress endeavors to collect historical materials from the perspectives of all the nationalities of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Examples of recent historical books include Mjesto i uloga Hrvatskog kulturnog društva "Napredak" u društvenom životu Hrvata Bosne i Hercegovine između dva svjetska rata [Place and Role of the Croatian Cultural Society "Napredak" in the Social Life of the Croats of Bosnia and Herzegovina between the Two World Wars] by Tomislav Išek, Historija Bošnjaka [History of Bosniaks] by Mustafa Imamović, and the memoirs of Žarko Lastrić entitled Banjalučki ilegalac [Illegal from Banja Luka]. All of the major historical journals are held in print and/or digital formats such as Historijska traganja [Historical Searches] from the Institute of History in Sarajevo, Forum Bosnæ, also from Sarajevo, Bosna Franciscana from Samobor, and a digital edition of Historijski pogledi [Historical Views] from Tuzla.

The Bosnian war of 1991-1995 spurred an enormous number of publications on the history of the country, human rights, and war crimes, not only in the countries of former Yugoslavia, but especially in the United States and western Europe. The Library of Congress has many such works in B/C/M/S, English and other languages. One of the most notable titles on the war is the multi-volume register of the dead, Bosanska knjiga mrtvih, which lists names of the victims by locale. Memoirs, writings, and biographies of major wartime figures in the collection include the autobiography of Alija Izetbegović Sjećanja: autobiografski zapis [Memories: an autobiographical record] and his collected works, as well as works by his Bosnian Serb opponent Radovan Karadžić. Memoirs of ordinary citizens and works of fiction based on wartime experiences also are well-represented such as Zlata's Diary or Sarajevo Blues.

Image of advertising
Advertising pages at the back of the guide. Julius Pojman. Illustrierter führer durch Bosnien und die Herzegowina [Illustrated guide through Bosnia and Herzegovina]. 1913. Library of Congress General Collections.

Although the majority of Bosnian materials in the Library of Congress are published in Sarajevo, titles from other cities comprise approximately 40% of the collection making coverage of the various regions a strong point. Almost 1,600 titles in the collection emanate from the Serbian stronghold of Banja Luka, while over 600 were published in the Herzegovinian city of Mostar. Other cities with good representation in the collection include almost 350 titles from Tešanj, over 250 from Zenica, and a growing number of works from the mostly Serbian city of Istočno Sarajevo. Weak spots in the Bosnian collection are military and naval history, medicine, agriculture, and music, with only several dozen titles for each subject held by the Library of Congress. Overall, the collection is strongest for the post World War II period, and in particular for the post-communist, post-Bosnian war period. Acquisitions grew tremendously beginning in the early 2000s and the number of works published since 2000 comprises over 73% of the entire Bosnian book collection. Also of note are the hundreds of books touching on the subject of Bosnia in English and other West European languages, as well as languages of the other countries in Southeast Europe.

Recognizing that historians, genealogists, and business researchers frequently need to consult directories, the Library of Congress maintains a collection of international telephone directories. Business and specialized directories from Bosnia and Herzegovina are cataloged and may be identified using the Library of Congress Online Catalog. Uncataloged telephone directories from Bosnia may be identified using the guide Bosnia & Herzegovina: Address and Telephone Directories. The uncataloged collection contains over 30 volumes from 1936 to 1998. For uncataloged items in the general collections, a researcher must request the items by completing a call slip in the Main Reading Room or asking in person for help in the European Reading Room. Selected directories from a microfilm collection of Yugoslav phone books also have been digitized and are available onsite only in the Library of Congress digital repository called Stacks.

Microfilm Collections on Bosnia

A number of materials related to Bosnia or former Yugoslavia exist in the Library of Congress collections in microfilm and/or microfiche formats. The materials range from newspapers and serials to books and archival documents. Described below are some microfilm sets available in the Microform and Electronic Resource Center (MERC). For newspapers on microfilm see the guide Bosnian Newspapers at the Library of Congress which shows titles, holdings, format and location of the materials.

Regarding microfilm collections of State Department records on the internal affairs of Yugoslavia from the National Archives - the Library of Congress acquired only two of the six sets, 1945-1949 and 1950-1954. Please consult the National Archives to see the records from 1910-1929, 1930-1944, 1955-1959, and 1960-1963. Likewise, please consult the National Archives directly to see Despatches from United States consuls in Belgrade, 1883-1906.