BAN bought foreign books from the very beginning-a policy initiated by Peter the Great, with his interest in life abroad, and vigorously followed since. This gives the catalogue of non-Russian holdings a special significance because if provides a complete record of foreign works present in Russia in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries and immediately before and after the Revolution.
There are, for instance, a surprisingly large number of US imprints from the beginning of this century including many US government documents.
It is a truly international catalog, consisting of 241,000 cards recording titles of which the prevalent languages are English, French, German, Italian and Spanish. There is a supplementary catalogue of 8,400 cards relating to works damaged in the fire of 1988.