The RIPM e-Library of Music Periodicals

A Supplement to the RIPM Retrospective Index and Online Archive
with a New Interface


All current subscribers to the RIPM Online Archive and those subscribing to the Archive in 2013 and 2014 will receive the e-Library at no additional cost for two subscription years.

The RIPM e-Library of Music Periodicals is a searchable collection of full-text music journals, which, for reasons stated below, will not be treated in the Retrospective Index or the Online Archive. The e-Library's currently contains thirty-five journals consisting of more than 350,000 pages.

Why create the e-Library?

Approximately 4500 periodicals were published between roughly 1750 and 1960. If we assume that twenty-five percent of these titles require treatment by RIPM, then RIPM's goal is to index and digitize some 1125 titles. From RIPM's first publication in 1988 to 2013, RIPM has indexed nearly 200 journals, a pace which has been described by one reviewer as "a dream of productivity that is virtually unprecedented in the field of music scholarship." Yet, even at this rate of production, RIPM would need 115+ years to index only twenty-five percent of this monumental repertory. Clearly, it is necessary to increase the speed with which accessible full-text journals can be made available. RIPM’s response to this log jam is the e-Library.

What search tool best suits gaining access to a large number of journals in a limited amount of time?

The time required to treat a journal for the RIPM Retrospective Index is extensive, as the indexing and content description is created by scholars. This method has the advantage of providing access both to terms indexed and to the context in which the terms appear. For example, if Berlioz writes an harmonic analysis of a musical passage without mention of the word “harmony,” the indexer will supply this term in the content description and the user, searching for the term “harmony” will locate the pertinent passage even though the searched term does not appear in the journal. The disadvantage of this system is, to repeat, the length of time required to index a journal manually, which obviously limits the number of journals treated.

Access to the e-Library’s content is based upon optical character recognition (OCR) technology. This technology transforms pictures of letters into text and consequently provides access to all words, but it does not provide information concerning the context in which the search term(s) appears.

However, the e-Library is quite different from the other systems of access because it was planned with journals rather than monographs in mind. Thus, while the Internet Archive and the HathiTrust offer access to journals on a volume to volume basis (and only to those held in specific contributing libraries) with little effort to supply complete runs, the e-Library simultaneously provides access to all the issues of a journal (an extensive effort in itself) and equally to all journals. Like the Internet Archive and the HathiTrust, the RIPM e-Library does not offer titling information or the identification of specific types of content (reviews, illustrations, poem, analysis etc.). But unlike the others, the e-Library:

• offers a simple downloading process for save/print, • automatically upon download supplies fundamental bibliographical information (journal tile, date of publication, volume, issue, page number), • permits the user to make personal observations in a Notes field, • offers three types of sorts (chronological, density—the number of times a search term appears in an issue— and journal title). In addition, •bibliographical information is supplied with each journal page and • users can search complete journal runs and • generate cross-journal searches. Finally, when downloading a single page, the page number is automatically included. When downloading multiple pages, the user must select the page numbers, and, if desired, add further bibliographic information, such as article title and author’s name.

A word about the usefulness of supplying title information

Given the documentation with which RIPM deals, title information alone rarely permits the user to determine immediately if the context in which a search term appears is useful to one’s research. Invariably one must see the search term in context to make a decision. In our opinion, therefore, scholarship is better served if RIPM provides access to more journals, lots of them, with rapid access to the terms searched, a density sort and full Boolean search features, rather than slow the flow of available journals to a trickle in order to relate page content to titles.

The e-Library offers access to a large collection of music journals. In order to do so, we have developed a procedure that requires a modest amount of interaction with the scholar. It is important to note: (i) that references in the e-Library lead directly to the search terms (highlighted) within the text and not to the title(s) of articles in which they appear and (ii) that scholars in some cases must manually add bibliographical information, facilitated by designated fields. The trade-off is this: a modest amount of user participation for a greater number of accessible full-text pages.

What happens now to the RIPM Retrospective Index and the RIPM Online Archive?

Nothing changes. The creation of the e-Library does not affect the regular production of the RIPM Retrospective Index and its full-text partner, the Online Archive. RIPM will continue to produce annotated calendars and indexes prepared by scholars and to add full-text journals to the RIPM Online Archive. Furthermore, inclusion in the e-Library does not preclude the possibility of future indexing of selected journals; it simply allows RIPM to release more journals in a timely fashion. Our mission is to preserve and to provide access to music periodical literature; the e-Library is another tool allowing us to fulfill that objective.

How are journals selected for the RIPM Retrospective Index and the RIPM e-Library?

The answer to this question is less clear than we would like it to be. While, in principle, one would treat the “more important” journals in the Retrospective Index, how does one define “most important”? In some cases this is obvious, in many others, less so. Also, the choice depends upon the availability of indexers, financial resources, the length of time required to index a journal, and to the factors outlined below.

What types of journals will appear in the e-Library?

(i) Those with very long publication runs, such as the Musical Courier (New York, 1880-1964), Il Trovatore (Milan, 1853-1914), Le Ménestrel (Paris, 1833-1940), or Die Musik (Berlin, Leipzig, Stuttgart; 1901-1943), each containing tens or hundreds of thousands of pages.

(ii) Those with very dense content. Many journals contain enormous amounts of news, advertising, and miscellaneous information. One page may contain more than 30 discreet bibliographic items, any of which may be of interest. Based on a study of sample issues of Musical America (New York, 1898-1962), manual indexing of this title would produce over two million records, nearly triple the size of the current RIPM Retrospective Index.

(iii) Those published in countries either not participating or participating on an irregular basis in RIPM.

(iv) Those of focus and scope not treated in the Retrospective Index. Many journals focus on specialized topics, such as the music trades, individual instruments, musical education, or musicology; others may combine both musical and non-musical content, such as theatrical journals.

As is RIPM's general practice, titles included in the e-Library will be available, within the constraints of copyright, in complete runs. Many of the selected titles have required significant reconstruction and have been assembled from incomplete copies in multiple libraries.