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Serbia and the Serbian Collections in the Library of Congress

Motion Pictures and Recorded Sound

Selection of publications from Serbia and former Yugoslavia related to the subjects of broadcasting, cinema and television. Library of Congress General Collections

A survey of the Serbian collections in the Library of Congress would not be complete without some mention of audio-visual format materials. Two reading rooms provide access to recordings, fiction and non-fiction films and TV programs from or related to Serbia or former Yugoslavia: the Moving Image Research Center and the Recorded Sound Research Center. Each research center is the primary point of contact for materials in their respective formats, especially given that so much of the materials in audio-visual formats are not fully cataloged and findable via the Library of Congress online catalog.

The Moving Image Resource Center holds a number of interesting items related to Serbia. The film collection contains notable works of Serbian cinema such as Hey Babu Riba (Bal na vodi) about four friends who reunite to attend the funeral of a woman they were all in love with, and Who's Singing Over There (Ko to tamo peva), a comedy about people riding a bus to Belgrade right before the 1941 bombing of the capital by the Luftwaffe. The collection also holds a selection of works by the noted director and screenwriter Dušan Makavejev, for instance Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator (Ljubavni slučaj ili tragedija službenice P.T.T.) and W.R. Mysteries of the Organism (W.R. - misterije organizma).

Outside of feature films, the Library of Congress has collected a number of documentaries from Serbia. Examples include How the People Happened (Kako se dogodio narod), about developments in Serbia at the end of Yugoslavia and the emergence of Slobodan Milošević, and Owl (Sova), by Aleksandar Ilić, the Serbian director of documentaries and nature films. All of the materials in this collection must be used onsite.

As with all other kinds of materials from Serbia described in this guide, it will also be beneficial to search for materials under subject headings related to Yugoslavia, not just Serbia. For example, the Library also holds documentaries about the disintegration of Yugoslavia in the 1990s such as Roots of the Yugoslav Civil War and Memories do not burn. All of the materials in this collection must be used onsite.

About the Moving Image Research Center

The Library of Congress began collecting motion pictures in 1893 when Thomas Edison and his brilliant assistant W.K.L. Dickson deposited the Edison Kinetoscopic Records for copyright. However, because of the difficulty of safely storing the flammable nitrate film used at the time, the Library retained only the descriptive material relating to motion pictures. In 1942, recognizing the importance of motion pictures and the need to preserve them as a historical record, the Library began the collection of the films themselves; from 1949 on these included films made for television. Today the Motion Picture, Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division (MBRS) is responsible for the acquisition, cataloging and preservation of the Library's motion picture and television collections.

Recorded Sound

Sound recordings of Serbian music are held by the Recorded Sound Research Center. Hundreds of titles from Serbia or with a Yugoslav connection can be found in the Library of Congress online catalog by conducting a search limiting the results to the location of Recorded Sound. One collection strength is Serbian folk music with many examples of both instrumental and choral music such as Kajda iz vika, a collection of works recorded at a folk festival in Sirogojno, Serbia, or Dokmanović, ritual singing for fertility and its instrumental environment in south-east Serbia. Serbian classical music also is well-represented with recordings of works, for instance, by the composers Ivan Jevtić, Kornelije Stanković, and Ljubica Marić. An example of recordings of great European operatic or classical works by Serbian musicians is Belgrade Strings, with selections from Bach, Mendelsson, and Shostakovich, and performed by the Beogradski gudački orkestar Dušan Skovran.

Another area of interest are recordings of sacred music and chants such as Akatist preslatkom Gospodu Isusu Hristu and Danas ce crkva ozaruje. Several of the recordings in the collection connected to Serbia were produced by Jugoton, the recording studio established in 1947 in Zagreb. Examples of the Jugoton recordings in the Library's collection are Akademski hor "Branko Krsmanović" Beograd and selections by ethnomusicologist and composer Ernő Király. Serbian pop and rock music are not covered in the collection to the same extent as folk, sacred, and classical music, but there is some representation.

Lastly, the Recorded Sound Research Center holds recordings associated with books, regardless of subject. For example, a Glasovi neumrli, an anthology of songs broadcast by Radio Beograd was accompanied by a CD, as was the introductory language textbook Bosnian, Croatian, Serbian. Other non music recordings feature literary readings by well-known authors such as the Serbian poet Desanka Maksimović reciting her work for Radio-televizija Beograd. All of the materials in the Recorded Sound Research Center must be used onsite.

About the Recorded Sound Research Center

The Recorded Sound Research Center provides access to the commercial and archival audio holdings of the Library of Congress. The collection dates from 1926 when Victor Records donated over 400 discs to the Library's Music Division to supplement its print and manuscript holdings. In the custody of the Motion Picture Broadcasting and Recorded Sound Division since 1978, the collection has grown to include over 2 million items encompassing audio formats from cylinders to CDs.