At present the Department of cartographic publications of the Russian State Library is experiencing a complicated period in the acquisition of its stock. With the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States the system of cartographic enterprises of the Main Directorate of Geodesy and Cartography of the USSR has gone to ruins. The governments of the sovereign states have taken over the cartographic establishments. The Legal Deposit Law, passed in the former USSR, is not operative in the Commonwealth. Therefore only a small amount of cartographic publications enters the Department. A new system for the delivery deposit copies has not yet formed in Russia.
Big difficulties in obtaining foreign publications spring from the absence of currency allocations to the Russian State Library.
The accession of foreign publications has decreased as the purchase of fundamental, complex atlases and thematic maps has slumped.
As result of this all the Department has found itself in isolation from the outside world, and the cartographic collection gets poorer and poorer.
The most significant changes which have taken place in the past few years ensue from the greater openness of cartographic information. Topographical and general geographical maps on scale 1:200,000 and 1:500,000 are now being produced. Tourist itineraries are published on scales 1:50,000 and 1:100,000.
Since 1980 the Department has been engaged in the automated input of bibliographic descriptions with the purpose of drawing up the "Union catalogue of foreign maps and atlases in the libraries of the Russian Federation". It has produced two publications titled "Foreign maps of Russia" (St. Petersburg, 1988, 124 p; 1990, 201 p.)
Besides foreign publications also our own maps have been processed in an automated way. As a result of this the Department only gets cards for traditional catalogues and is occupiecd with the issue of subject catalogues for the time being.
At present the libraries of Russia are not ready for the retroconversion of catalogues of older maps and atlases published before 1917 as the bigger part of these publications were withheld from the public. The process of opening up these stocks now has come to an end and specialists are free to start studying them. Lenghtly work on retroconversion of cartographic catalogues is possible if there is a stable situation in the country. At present the conditions for this interesting work, even for bibliographic descriptions of foreign maps and atlases published since 1980, are absent.
The Department has prepared the Rules of compiling bibliographic descriptions of rare maps for publication. They will aid libraries and archives in active work on cataloguing pre- revolutionary collections.
In 1991 two catalogues of exhibitions of Russian maps were prepared. The catalogue One hundred Russian maps and atlases of the 18th and 19th century was published by the Department of Cartography of the Library of the Academy of Sciences (St. Petersburg, 1991, 77 p.). The catalogue Russian maps and atlases: 17th-19th centuries was compiled by the Department of Cartographic Publications of the Russian State Library (Moscow, 1991, 79 p.).
Natalya Kotelnikova, Russian State Library, Moscow