The Slavic linguistic bibliography has got a long and beautiful tradition. The first Przegląd bibliograficzny językoznawstwa slawistycznego (Slavic Linguistic Bibliographical Review) which is the precursor of Bibliografia językoznawstwa slawistycznego (Slavic Linguistic Bibliography), was published in 1908 in the newly created linguistic journal „Rocznik Slawistyczny”. From the beginning it was to be a current bibliography that included articles printed worldwide, published the year before. A large value of the bibliography were annotations and abstracts added to most of the bibliographical descriptions.

This precursory work – precursory in the scope and extent as well as method of elaboration – which was taken on by three authors: Jan Łoś, Kazimierz Nitsch and Jan Rozwadowski, was without precedent in the worldwide scale. Before Przegląd bibliograficzny za rok 1907 appeared in Poland, as well as in some of the European countries, bibliographic lists, described as lists, informations or bibliographic reviews (the name was established for a bibliography published in „Prace Filologiczne” in the 80s of 19th century). These studies were not as extensive and complete as the Przegląd bibliograficzny. Moreover, they lack information about the content of documents. Later bibliographies, Polish as well as foreign, were limited to particular fields of linguistics and/or narrower territorial coverage, for example the work of Edmund Kołodziejczyk Bibliografia słowianoznawstwa polskiego (Kraków, 1911) and two editions of Bibliografia polskich prac z zakresu slawistyki for 1968-1972 period (Warszawa, 1973) and 1972-1981 (Warszawa, 1983). The monumental current bibliography of world linguistics Bibliographie Linguistique / Linguistic Bibliography (published in the Netherlands since 1949) includes among others also Slavic linguistics, however ignores part of these documents, furthermore it does not include the annotations.

Przegląd bibliograficzny has quickly gained international recognition, becoming the most extensive source of information about the Slavic linguistic documents. Slowly its volume has expanded, evolving from a bibliographic section in „Rocznik Slawistyczny” (the 1st volume included 271 items) to a separate volume as the second part of „Rocznik Slawistyczny” (the last Przegląd za rok 1981 was published in 1992 and included 5766 items). Careful and competent studies of bibliography was provided by the regular associates of the review, among them the best known Polish and foreign linguists-Slavists, as well as the members of the editorial board. Later on most of the editorial board were the researchers associated with the Slavic Institute of the Polish Academy of Sciences (earlier Instytut Słowianoznawstwa): prof. Zdzisław Stieber (The Chair of the Institute) and prof. Franciszek Sławski (the Head of the Laboratory of Proto-Slavic Language – Pracownia Języka Prasłowiańskiego Instytutu Slawistyki PAN). The works on Przegląd bibliograficzny were coordinated by the highly devoted Wacław Fedorowicz, a team member of the Laboratory.

Informatisation of the Bibliography

At the end of 1993 after an 11-year hiatus in the publication of bibliography, work on it has been resumed in the Slavic Academic Information Centre of the Institute of Slavic Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences. The main objective of this work, carried out with the organisational support of the Warsaw Scientific Society, was to transform the traditional bibliography in modern information retrieval system. The result was the creation of a documentary database operated by the autonomous system SYBISLAW (System Bibliografii Slawistycznej – System of Slavic Bibliography) and the publication of an independent serial publication, which is a derivative of the base - traditional paper bibliography Bibliografia językoznawstwa slawistycznego. In the years 1995-2003 seven volumes of bibliography were published including detailed information about Slavic publications in Europe and outside of Europe for the years 1992 to 1997.

The modern bibliographic information system

Significant progress in the work on developing the modern system was achieved in 1998. At the XII International Congress of Slavists in Krakow the preliminary concept of the system of bibliographic information of Slavic linguistics was presented (B. Bojar, Z. Rudnik-Karwatowa, Koncepcja nowoczesnego systemu informacji slawistycznej, [In:] Językoznawstwo : prace na XII Międzynarodowy Kongres Slawistów w Krakowie 1998, Warszawa, 1998). At the end of 2007 the iSybislaw, a system available online, was implemented, and firstly a collection of information concerning the documents not included in the previous system SYBISLAW (i.e. for 1998) was converted. Thus, the continuity of gathered collection was assured.

The basic language of information retrieval system that performs the meta-information and retrieval functions is the language of key words with the elements of the descriptor language. Due to an extensive paradigmatics, which used synonymic relations, as well as solving the problem of ambiguity the relevant information might be retrieved by this language. Additional information retrieval language is the classification language.

Słownik słów kluczowych językoznawstwa slawistycznego (Dictionary of Key Words in Slavic Linguistics; electronic document; Warszawa, 2006) based on the Polish language turned out to be a helpful tool in the organisation of lexis of the key words language. It was implemented in the retrieval system iSybislaw and is continuously expanded and supplemented by the equivalents of key words in other Slavic languages as well as in English. Work on foreign language dictionaries of key words are not equally advanced. Until now the construction of dictionaries in several languages has not yet begun. Ultimately, the establishment of equivalence classes belonging to different languages enables cross-language information retrieval in a multilingual information collection in the iSybislaw system.

The iSybislaw system is widely accessible and promotes an open access to knowledge.