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Since RILM was founded in 1966, the executive directors have written summaries of each year’s activities (with a few exceptions). Versions of these have been published in Fontes Artis Musicae, the journal of the International Association of Music Libraries, Archives, and Documentation Centres. The annual reports are available below (where necessary, with the permission of Fontes) and provide a concise overview of the developments at RILM over the decades, during which it evolved from an organization that published printed bibliographies of music research with abstracts and indexing to one that produces digital indexes and full-text resources and tools for the 21st-century scholarly community.



RILM hires an editor for abstracting and indexing content in Arabic and Persian.


Tina Frühauf is confirmed as Executive Director, becoming the fifth person to lead RILM.

The International Association for the Study of Popular Music joined IMS, IAML, and ICTM as one of RILM’s sponsoring organizations, the Commission Internationale Mixte.


RILM hires an editor for abstracting and indexing content in Indonesian, Filipino/Tagalog, and Javanese, and an editor for content in Tamil and Bahasa Malayu.


In February RILM Music Encyclopedias is released on RILM’s platform, Egret.


In August the Index to Printed Music (IPM) is relaunched on EBSCOhost.

RILM collaborates with the Smithsonian Institution during the Year of Music.


In the fall MGG Online becomes available for personal subscription. Upon its launch in November 2016, it was offered exclusively to institutions.

On 1 July 2018, RILM’s ownership of the Index to Printed Music (IPM) begins.

In March the 1,000,000th record is indexed in RILM Abstracts of Music Literature.


RILM and James Adrian Music Company sign an agreement for RILM to take over the Index to Printed Music (IPM), the only source for searching individual pieces of music contained in printed collections, sets, and series.


In November MGG Online is launched in a cooperation with Bärenreiter-Verlag Karl Vötterle GmbH & Co. KG, Kassel and J.B. Metzler, Part of Springer Nature, Springer Verlag GmbH.

In July RILM Abstracts with Full Text (RAFT) is launched with an initial 220 periodicals included in the collection.


In December RILM Music Encyclopedias is launched.

RILM has developed its stand-alone platform to host and distribute music reference works. The first reference distributed from the platform is MGG Online.

RILM is a major sponsor of the IAML/IMS joint meeting at the Juilliard School of Music in New York City.

The two major bibliography products are realigned as RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, which includes the full range of RILM records, and RILM Abstracts of Music Literature (1967 to present).


RILM and Bärenreiter announce the creation of MGG Online, which will make the second edition of this extraordinary encyclopedia available electronically.

RILM announces that beginning in January 2015, new subscriptions to RILM Abstracts of Music Literature will only be available through EBSCO, and no longer through ProQuest.


The 750,000th record is entered in RILM Abstracts of Music Literature.

RILM launches RILM Retrospective Abstracts of Music Literature.

RILM hires an editor to work only with Chinese-language content.

RILM implements an equivalency file for personal names that includes variant spellings, transliterations, and scripts.


RILM begins work on a next-generation editorial system, iBis2. While maintaining Microsoft SQL Server 2008 for its data store, iBis2 uses object-oriented PHP with JavaScript for its front end.


RILM’s blog, Bibliolore, is launched.

RILM Abstracts of Music Literature is no longer available on NISC Muse, OCLC FirstSearch, or Ovid/SilverPlatter platforms. RILM’s distributors are EBSCO and ProQuest.


RILM publishes Music’s Intellectual History.

RILM publishes Liber Amicorum: Festschriften for Music Scholars and Nonmusicians, 1840–1966.


RILM publishes Volume 33 (1999), the final printed annual volume.


The 500,000th record is entered in RILM Abstracts of Music Literature.

The International Council for Traditional Music joined IMS and IAML as one of RILM’s sponsoring organizations, and the composition of RILM’s Commission Internationale Mixte is changed to include four representatives nominated by each society.


RILM received a major grant from the NEH for another retrospective project, the abstracting and indexing of Festschriften published before 1967.


RILM publishes its manual of style, How to Write about Music.

RILM organizes the conference “Music’s Intellectual History: Founders, Followers, and Fads”, held 16 through 19 March at the CUNY Graduate Center.


RILM publishes Speaking of Music: Music Conferences, 1835–1966.


RILM receives an additional grant from the Andrew W. Mellon to complete work on the retrospective conference proceedings project, which had grown significantly since it was first conceived.

RILM starts working with JSTOR to establish JSTOR’s new Music Collection, one of the first repositories of full-text scholarly journals on music.

RILM implements a new web-based editorial system, iBis. iBis used Microsoft SQL Server as a data store and ASP and ASPX with Perl, C#, and JavaScript for its front end.


RILM becomes available online on the Ovid/SilverPlatter platform, Cambridge Scientific Abstracts, and EBSCOhost.


The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation awards RILM a grant for three projects: digitizing the first two years of RILM’s data (1967–68), which were not in machine-readable form; establishing the titles list for JSTOR’s newly conceived Music Collection; and supporting the retrospective abstracting and indexing of published conference papers on music.


The International Center’s staff grew to nine full-time and eleven part-time positions.

RILM is incorporated in the state of New York as Répertoire International de Litterature Musicale, Inc., a 501(c)3 not-for-profit corporation.


RILM moves to its new home at the CUNY Graduate Center on Fifth Avenue, New York.

Work begins on the development of a new production database, iBis1. The acronym stands for Internet Bibliographic Indexing System.


RILM hires an editor for popular music in Anglo-American countries.


Zdravko Blažeković is confirmed as Executive Editor.

Barry S. Brook, RILM’s founder, dies on 7 December.


Barbara Dobbs Mackenzie is confirmed as Editor-in-Chief. Current citations project begins, in which RILM Abstracts of Music Literature adds article citations from journals received at the International Center and publishes them as short records. Abstracts and indexing added later.


RILM becomes available online on OCLC FirstSearch.


RILM is no longer available on DIALOG Information Retrieval Services.

RILM implements an editorial platform using Paradox for DOS.


Adam P.J. O’Connor is confirmed as Editor-in-Chief.


RILM hires its first ethnomusicologist, Daniel Avogbedor.


Terence E. Ford is confirmed as Editor-in-Chief.

RILM becomes available on CD-ROM through the Music Search platform, produced by the National Information Services Corporation in Baltimore.


RILM signs an agreement with Lockheed Information Sciences Laboratory in Palo Alto, California, to make its data available for online search through DIALOG Information Retrieval Services. RILM’s data, known as DIALOG File 97, is searched by 24 users in the month of August 1979, who executed 176 queries in a total of 3.67 hours.


RILM approaches financial self-sufficiency.


A cumulative index that merges the indexing for all records published in the first five years of RILM Abstracts of Music Literature (1967–1971) is published.


RILM’s mainframe computer program for word processing and sorting the bibliographic records is implemented for the production of the demonstration issue of the Répertoire international de la littérature de l’art (RILA), published from 1975 through 1989 by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachussets. RILMs classification scheme and indexing methods served as the model for the organization of bibliographic records in RILA.


The number of subscribers to RILM Abstracts of Music Literature reaches 1000 (500 libraries + 500 individuals).


The Commission Internationale Mixte, RILM’s governing and advisory board, is formed with Barry S. Brook as president and Harald Heckmann and François Lesure as vice presidents.


Richard Golden, a computer science student at Queens College, completes the first software for word processing and sorting the bibliographic records and producing RILM’s author/subject indexes. The WYLBUR text editing program was first run on IBM S/360 and later on IBM 3090-400E mainframe computer systems of the University Computer Center, CUNY. With adjustment by the Australian programmer Philip Drummond, the software remained functional until 1992.

The first quarterly installment of RILM Abstracts of Music Literature is published in August. It includes 497 bibliographic records for publications that appeared between January and March of 1967. A one-year subscription costs $24.00 for libraries and institutions, and $9.00 for individuals.

RILM national committees are active in 39 countries: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada., Chile, Czechoslovakia, Denmark, Finland, France, West Germany, East Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, USSR, USA, Uruguay, Venezuela, and Yugoslavia.

Abstracts are classified and processed manually in Barry S. Brook’s kitchen, and in a small attic office at the top of the biology building at Queens College (where editors were frequently overcome with formaldehyde and fumes from meals cooked for laboratory rats living one floor below).


The American Council of Learned Societies is exploring ways in which bibliographical and interdisciplinary concerns of scholars can effectively be met through computerization, and adopts RILM as its pilot project. As such RILM receives strong moral support, modest seed funds, and computer-programming assistance.

The establishment of RILM is supported with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Martha Baird Rockefeller Fund, the Council on Library Resources, the Chancellor’s Fund of the City University of New York, the American Musicological Society, the Music Library Association, the College Music Society, the International Musicological Society, the International Association of Music Libraries, and the Gesellschaft für Musikforschung.

The International Musicological Society, the International Music Council, and the International Association of Music Libraries supported the project, and RILM are established under the joint sponsorship of IMS and IAML. The first advisers to the project were Dénes Bartha, Ingmar Bengtsson, Dragotin Cvetko, Kurt von Fischer, Karl-Heinz Köhler, Jan LaRue, Zofia Lissa, Claudio Sartori, and Jack Westrup.

Thirty-three national RILM committees are established, and they begin to send bibliographic information to the International Center at Queens College in New York.


A plan for an international abstracted bibliography of music literature is presented for the first time at a meeting of the American Musicological Society’s Greater New York Chapter. The proposal was to investigate the possibility of establishing an abstract journal of significant musicological literature published throughout the world, a sort of RISM for music literature. The journal could be worked on cooperatively in many countries and by the various universities that do graduate work in musicology. Abstracts would be stored in a computer, indexed, and published, and retrieved in various ways on demand. (See Barry S. Brook, “The Road to RILM “, Modern Music Librarianship: In Honor of Ruth Watanabe [Stuyvesant: Pendragon Press, 1989] 85.)

A detailed proposal for a project named RILM is presented at the annual conference of the International Association of Music Libraries, in Dijon.

RILM would have two principal publication series, one of current literature and the other for retroactive material. It would publish current abstracts and indexes every three months and ultimately published a series of volumes devoted to retroactive bibliographical work. “Automatic indexing by computer will make possible very extensive cross indexing and effective retrieval of information. Cumulative indexes, automatically produced and printed will be published regularly. Specialized bibliographies of all kinds with and without abstracts will be published individually. Scholars working on specific research projects will eventually be able to request a bibliographic search by the computer of its stored information and to receive and automatically printed-out replay. Ultimately RILM should be self supporting from the proceeds of its publications, and from the fees from institutions and individuals requesting specialized information retrieval” (ibid., 86).


The idea for RILM is born in a bibliography class taught by Barry S. Brook at Queens College of the City University of New York.