Barry S. Brook, President de la Commission Mixte du RILM
Nanna Schiødt, Recording Secretary
Report No. 10: Montreal,1975
At the meeting, one general session was devoted to RILM, and one session to the RILM Thesaurus Sub-Commission. The discussion at the general session centered upon reaction to a questionnaire sent out by RILM abstracts earlier this year, and dealt also with possibilities for improving the index and the journal as a whole. The following is a record of the highlights of the proceedings.
Report by the President
The RILM questionnaire, which grew out of suggestions from colleagues in several countries, is proving to be a valuable guide in determining future editorial policy. The first copies were distributed to participants in the February meetings of the Music Library Association and to RILM national chairmen and area editors in a mailing the same month. A second batch of questionnaires was then sent out to subscribers with the mailing of volume VII/1. Since the trend appears to be similar in both groups, all responses have been considered together. These, along with the individual questions, were as follows:
I. Should quarterly issues be combined into one issue?
Yes, if necessary for survival.
No, if the difference in cost were relatively small.
Most answers expressed concern that RILM would fall further behind if it were published annually.
II. Should the size of the magazine be reduced?
The response was largely negative or neutral (no opinion).
Reasons against reducing the size of the magazine include:
1) Readers fear that reduction in print size would follow.
2) Shelf space had already been allocated for the magazine at the original size.
Only about 15% responded positively to this question.
III. Rate the general usefulness of the five-year Cumulative Index.
Very useful 63%
Useful 21 %
Not particularly useful 6%
No comment 10%
IV. Rate the usefulness of the international thesaurus within the Index.
Among American readers at least 60% either did not answer the question or said they did not find the thesaurus helpful.
The European readers almost unanimously approved of it.
V. Rate RILM’s usefulness as a bibliographical tool.
Very useful 84%
Moderately useful 16%
Among reasons for voting RILM “moderately useful” are:
1) The magazine is not sufficiently current.
2) Literature before 1967 is not covered.
3) Non-Western music is insufficiently covered.
VI. In what fields of RILM’s present coverage would you like to see the coverage expanded?
2) Music therapy
4) French periodicals
5) Spanish periodicals
6) Popular music
7) Information on audio equipment
VII. What new fields do you think should be covered by RILM?
1) Historical and sociological effects of popular music.
2) Essays and notes associated with recordings.
3) Newspapers (for example, the New York Times).
4) Perforrnance-oriented materials.
5) Music articles in non-music journals such as the New York Review of Books, Atlantic Monthly, Commentary, and so on.
6) General cultural history; fine arts.
7) More on instruments and related fields.
VIII. What additional periodicals would you like to see included among our “core” periodicals?
Among the many suggested were High Fidelity, The Harpsichord, Asian Music, and Der Kirchenchor.
IX. Suggestions for increasing circulation:
1) Carry more citations for-popular music
2) Offer a student rate (very frequently suggested).
3) Have professors request RILM for their libraries.
4) Advertise in the Journal of the American Musicological Society and Musical Quarterly.
5) Accept advertising, to be kept in the back of the issues.
X. If an abstract cannot be readily obtained, would you prefer that the author-title citation be included, with indexing accomplished as well as possible?
Would you prefer to wait until an abstract is obtained?
Yes: 40% (often qualified by a time limit, after which an abstract would be supplied by the staff, or a title-author citation included)
No: 60% (often qualified by the suggestion that an author abstract could be printed later if received; better to get something in print as soon as possible)
The financial difficulties of RILM are not yet at an end, although the budget gap is closing and self-sufficiency appears to be a more realizable goal. This year sees the end of NEH support, but there is a possibility of acquiring matching funds from another branch of that organization. It was the suggestion of the NEH to poll on the question of the usefulness of RILM as a bibliographical tool. The overwhelmingly positive response to this on the RILM questionnaire will surely influence their decision in regard to the matching funds. Of the learned societies approached for funding, all have responded positively. In the matter of the production of the journal, volume VII/2 is on the press, VII/3 is in galley stage, and VIII/l is being edited.
By the time of publication of the next five-year index, method and terminology will have been stabilized and the index will be more consistent. There are also plans to include many more cross-references, in accord with repeated requests. RILM is urging its readers to send in criticisms and suggestions for improvement of the index.
Thesaurus Sub-Commission Meeting
Anders Lönn, Chairman
The joint meeting of the Thesaurus Sub-Commission and the Classification Sub-Commission (with some 20 persons in attendance) was devoted mainly to a review of the five-year cumulative index. (Some complaints were voiced concerning its publicity and distribution.) Professor Brook described the editing operations as well as the difficulties in merging the annual indexes; this affected particularly vol. I, in which extensive re-indexing had been necessary.
Among the specific points brought up and exemplified in the discussions were:
1) The structure of composer entries, particularly the subheading works. Should the title of the work always be preceded by a filing-title type of generic term (opera, Passion, sonata, etc.), or should the present practice be retained of entering larger vocal works directly under their names? Would computer retrieval be facilitated by a more uniform approach? Also, should opus, BWV, and similar numberings be used, and in the case of different numbering systems, which one?
2) A desire for more cross-references, e. g. from journal titles (RILM abstracts!) or folk instruments to specific entries. This might be of special importance to the non-specialist user.
3) The structure of entries under manuscripts and autographs, which is now inconsistent.
4) The distinctions between libraries and archives. It was agreed that part of the problem of vague or ambiguous terms would be solved by definitions (scope notes) in the thesaurus. In some cases these notes should perhaps also be included in the index, since even a see also reference might not be heeded by a user (wrongly) convinced by his own usage that the term referred to could be relevant. (Another case in point could be folk music – popular music.)
5) The question of index terms corresponding to sections of the classification. Professor Brook reported that items included in a certain class would henceforth be duplicated under the equivalent term in the index, e. g. the index heading catalogues-thematic would include all thematic catalogues, whether classed as 05 or not. This was generally felt to be an improvement.
6) The possibility of adding authors’ names to abstract numbers in subject entries, to facilitate searching. It was agreed that this could be tried, although it would probably not be worth the extra space and effort.
Generally, it was emphasized that despite some remaining imperfections, the cumulative index was an extremely useful research tool and a major step in the RILM project. Furthermore, with the cumulative index as a model (of what to do and what not to do), indexing would become much easier and consistency simpler to achieve in future annual volumes, which was one of the reasons the cumulation had been undertaken.
On the multi-lingual thesaurus the chairman reported that progress had been slow, mainly because the Italian list had not been forthcoming. Every effort must be made to obtain this and the Spanish terms (for which a candidate was available) within the next half year. A copy of a complete Russian translation of the thesaurus by Dr. Jerzy Gołos was demonstrated, and had been sent to Mrs. Galina Koltypina for comments.