Obtaining copies of old translations published as technical reports
Through some sleuthing, you've determine that a translation of an older paper was made and published as a technical report in a Translation report series. You see reference to a technical report number, but how to use this number to get a copy of the report is unclear. On this page, we'll discuss the general problem first and then go into an example of a report available through multiple sources.
Older printed technical reports are frequently not available online, and must be found in libraries. Worse, unlike books, often the technical report holdings of a particular library are not cataloged. Consequently, it is often not possible to know if a particular library has a particular report until one visits the library or a librarian checks for the particular report. Fortunately, often hints about where to obtain a copy of a report are in translation indices.
Often it is possible to obtain copies of these translations through interlibrary loan. Your local library likely provides this service, possibly for a fee. Contact a local librarian for more information.
Given the long time between when the indices were written and today, many translations have changed custody, so the apparent location of the translation may be misleading. Check this Wiki for the particular translation report series as we'll note that as appropriate.
Additionally, at certain libraries, technical reports may be more difficult to access than books. The Library of Congress Technical Reports & Standards Unit, for example, is best accessed through appointment as a librarian will need to locate the requested translations.
For libraries in the region New York City, Boston, Washington DC, and Storrs there is a service where researchers access to documents that can't be found online by paying other researchers to find them. For people writing medical review papers the Cochrane Task Exchange may be able to help find people to locate articles (or translate articles).
Example: TT 60-17199
Consider an English translation titled "On the Influence of Turbulence Upon the Disintegration of Liquid Jets" by A. S. Lyshevskiy, a spray researcher who is virtually unknown outside of Russia. This paper was originally published in Russian as (transliterated):
A. S. Lyshevskii, “O vliyanii turbulentnosti na raspad zhidkoy strui,” Trudy, Novocherkasskii politekhnicheskii institut, vol. 39(53), pp. 81–86, 1957.
The Technical Translations index lists an English translation of this paper (right column). The translation was produced as part of the British M series of translations. It is likely available at the British Library upon request. However, assume that you live in the US and are unable to travel to the UK, as the British Library will often not provide scans of translations.
Fortunately, the index mentions that the translation is available from "LC" or "SLA" as well. These are abbreviations for the Library of Congress and the Special Libraries Association (see the beginning of the index). The Special Libraries Association at one time held a large translations collection, however, the majority of these have since been moved to the British Library, and consequently are not accessible to someone in the US. It would appear that the Library of Congress is our only hope.
(Note that the part of the Technical Translation index which lists the abbreviations like "LC" refers to the "Photoduplication Service" at the Library of Congress. This part of the Library of Congress no longer exists, but the Library of Congress' Technical Reports & Standards Unit now has custody of the translation.)
Now, to obtain a copy of the translation, one should first start by contacting the Technical Reports & Standards Unit to verify that they do indeed hold the translation. Send them a copy of the citation of the translation including all report numbers you are aware of. In this case, we are aware of the report numbers TT 60-17199 and M1366. (When making a large number of requests it should be sufficient to provide a list of report numbers only.) In our experience, when the Technical Translations index states the Library of Congress has a translation, they do. The Library of Congress may be willing to provide a scan of the translation (particularly during the COVID pandemic), but often one needs to visit the Library of Congress to view the translation in person.