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Summary of Activities, 1992

Adam P.J. O’Connor, Editor-in-Chief

Report No. 26: 1992

Barry S. Brook (President, Commission Mixte) spoke on RILM at 25. At a quarter century, RILM is flourishing. Two annual volumes have been issued in just over a year. Volume 21 was prepared in seven months and was the largest annual volume to date, with nearly 10,000 entries. Volume 22 was recently completed, and immediately broke that record by another 2000 entries, for a total just short of 12,000. The staff in New York is now quite large, and rather distinguished, with eight PhDs and with native speakers of six languages other than English from six continents.

Most of the national committees are sending in tremendous amounts of material. While we regret the absence of materials from several countries, notably Spain, Sweden, Ireland, and Israel, we are working hard to help to revive their committees, and are open to suggestions. Beyond this, Drs. Platt and Avorgbedor of the International Center are working quickly to found new committees in the former Soviet Republics, South America, and Africa.

Last year, the bookkeeping and subscription activities in New York were computerized. This year, a new editorial computer system is being designed for the creation of the book. This will be a unified system, requiring only one keying of material from accession to typesetting. When it is completed, the new system will represent the fulfillment of long-standing hopes, and the realization of ideas first conceived at RILM’s founding. This represents a considerable amount of work and a fair commitment of resources. The new system will employ the latest database management, networking, and page-making facilities. The progress it represents can hardly be appreciated unless one has worked under the yoke of the old technology. The first volume produced on it will doubtless be a trial, but thereafter, the editorial and production processes will be both greatly simplified, speeded, and enhanced. It may even lead to “computerization” of national committees a year or two down the road, something that, for the English-language abstracts and for the bibliographic portion of all records, would mean a single keying of material from committee to bound book.

The Rules of Procedure, passed by the IAML Council at this conference, called for a renewal of the RILM Commission Mixte. Five members have been named by IAML: Barry S. Brook, Melva Peterson, Lenore Coral, Richard Andrewes, and Norbert Böker-Heil. Three departing members are Harald Heckmann, Janos Karpati, and Israel Adler. The ICTM has been invited to join as a sponsor; they have nominated Ann Schuursma and Joseph Hickerson to serve on the Commission Mixte.

Adam O’Connor (Editor-in-Chief) reported that RILM Abstracts is larger than ever, coming out quicker than ever, with coverage more varied than ever. He responded to a question about the material for the next cumulative index being spread over the two systems, saying that from the planning stage there were three parts in the design of the new system: (1) Input and manipulation of the data—how the abstract would look on the screen and how the data would make the book; (2) Output—how to get the same pages as before; and (3) Translation between the new and old data formats for the purposes of making the Cumulative Index 5. Necessarily, the translation must wait until the target format is final.

Late materials are entered as soon as possible. If something simply comes late, it goes in whatever volume is in progress. That is not the best conceivable alternative, because one would like to open the 1990 volume and have everything in it read 1990. But it is the best possible alternative, because the only other choice is to leave out late material. A look in the last volume will reveal material from several different years.

On electronic formats like DIALOG and MUSE, this problem is less serious. The year of publication of the source document is much more prominent here than the year of RILM publication. Ten years from now everything will appear to be in order on the electronic media, while the paper volume will never be perfectly right.

For countries that have not sent material, we have undertaken an ad hoc lacunae project. That is one reason the volumes have become so large. We have taken, in general, a more active role in searching out material. When an author in a collection sends in an abstract of his work, we routinely request the material for the rest of the collection. For instance, even without a working Irish committee, in vol. 22 we have 35 entries from a huge symposium published in Dublin because one participant sent in his abstract.

Subscriptions have increased, not only with new subscribers, but in the regaining of lapsed ones. Achieving currency will help RILM both with subscribers and with coverage. Catching up is the most important thing, and we really do hope to meet the declared deadlines. RILM is clearly entering terra incognita with the new system, and we may experience some unfortunate surprises, but we couldn’t wait any longer. For the past two volumes, the old system simply did not work; we could not get our data out of the computer. And that is no way to publish things quickly. That’s the way to go out of business. After volume 23 we expect things to be better than before.

Paul Petersen who is writing our computer program has been the database manager of Engineering Information, an engineering abstract publisher, and the editor of Religion Index, a publisher of theological abstracts. He is very familiar with abstract publishing and with music, having been a professional organist for many years.

Continuing a topic introduced the preceding year, the session participants discussed whether the index should be issued together with the abstract volume. Norbert Böker-Heil, the chair of the German committee, advocated keeping the separate bindings. Lenore Coral, the chair of the United States committee, noted that this might be a problem if the number of entries continued to increase, but that she thought stasis would soon be achieved in musicological publishing. Barry Brook felt publishing in the field was likely to continue to expand. He added that the trend toward CD-ROM storage of information meant that there might eventually be no worries about space. A poll of the meeting disclosed about a five-to-one ratio of libraries that bound the abstract and index book together. In a discussion about the printed, on-line, and CD-ROM formats of RILM, Mr. O’Connor said that there were no plans to discontinue the printed book.

Mr. O’Connor reiterated the International Center’s gratitude for the hard work of the national committees.

Adam O’Connor