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Summary of Activities, 2003-04

Barbara Dobbs Mackenzie, Editor-in-Chief

Overview: RILM has had a productive year. Most national RILM committees are stable, and new efforts are underway to cover publications from areas that have been under-represented in RILM in the past, including Africa, the Middle East, and China. RILM’s new web-based database system (called iBis) has been successfully launched. The RILM Retrospective Series, dormant for many years, has been revived with the publication of Volume 4, Speaking of Music: Music Conferences, 1835-1966. RILM anticipates an exciting year to come, in which we plan to print two new volumes, host our first international conference, and further improve coverage and currency.

National Commitees: The national committees submitted 11,205 records this year, approximately the same as last year. RILM was pleased to received its first submissions from China, thanks to the efforts of Gao Jie, and next year we expect submissions from the newly formed African committee, organized by Chris Walton, with eight members (to date) covering many parts of the continent. In addition, we look forward to stronger coverage of Middle Eastern countries, thanks to Roberta L. Dougherty. Peru and Turkey are in the process of forming national committees as well, and efforts are underway to revitalize committees in the following countries: Australia, Ireland, Hungary, and Switzerland. Some committees have expanded their coverage, most notably Austria, Canada, France, and Italy. The U.S. and German committees continue to be most active, submitting thousands of abstracts each year. Many others remain strong partners in our collaborative effort. For a complete list of RILM national committees, see the RILM website (global network)

RILM now publishes over 20,000 new records every year. Those not sent by national committees are added by the International Center, which works continuously to abstract publications from countries without active national committees and to ensure ongoing coverage of core materials.

RILM in Review: The School Library Journal (spring 2004) includes a lengthy review article, written by Gail Golderman and Bruce Connolly, rating the major online music resources. The following paragraphs are excerpts from their section on RILM:

Dating from 1967 through the present, RILM Abstracts of Music Literature is published by Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale (RILM) and heralded by music devotees as “the premier index to music literature,” as well as “the world’s largest, continuously updated” international bibliography of scholarly material…

The online version of RILM includes thousands of current citations published as recently as last month…

RILM has been the principal resource for libraries and music scholars for the past 35 years…

Who Needs It? Just about any institution that wants to support its music curriculum, programs, or departments should consider placing this resource at the top of the list. Longevity goes a long way, and the depth and breadth is not easily comparable…

Rating: A+

For the full text of the article, see the following URL:

RILM Online and on CD-ROM: RILM continues to be available on CD-ROM through NISC and online through CSA, EBSCO, NISC (BiblioLine), OCLC (FirstSearch), and Ovid (SilverPlatter). Each of the five vendors have enhanced RILM in various ways, providing links to full-text journal articles (including JSTOR), library holdings, local library catalogues, interlibrary loan, document delivery services, and more. Searching has been enhanced via hotlinks on many fields, including authors, journals, and subject headings. Other features include the ability to export records formatted for bibliographic managers such as Procite and Endnote, alert services (which send new records in a user’s area of interest to their e-mail in-box on a regular basis), cross-database searching with other humanities databases, and much more. For a list of features offered by each vendor, see the RILM website (Access).

Currency: RILM online and on CD-ROM includes an ever-increasing number of records from the most recent years of publication. The following chart shows the number of records online from 2000 to the present as of August 2004, compared with August 2003.

Publication YearAs of August 2004As of August 2003

Thanks to the ongoing diligence of the national committees, the increased efficiency of the staff at the International Center, and the advantages of iBis these numbers are expected to show further significant improvement. Watch for next year’s report!

Printed Volumes: Speaking of Music: Music Conferences, 1835-1966: This book, Volume 4 in the RILM Retrospective Series, is hot off the press. It abstracts papers about music given at conferences (both musical and non-musical) from the earliest we could find through the beginning of RILM’s regular coverage in 1967. (In the course of this work, we also identified later conference proceedings missing from RILM’s regular bibliography. These have been abstracted, indexed, and added to RILM online and on CD-ROM.)

As work progressed on this retrospective project—begun decades earlier by Barry Brook—we realized that the volume was becoming greater than the sum of its parts. We began to see a sweeping overview of music historiography through this period. To quote from James Cowdery’s preface to the volume, “In late 1978, the distinguished American musicologist Barry S. Brook (1918-1997) sent [an] optimistic letter to his many contacts among the world’s music librarians [saying that the volume was nearing completion]. He could not have foreseen that this project would languish, not to be finished for another two and a half decades, nor that it would quadruple in size; and he could never have dreamed that its significance would grow far beyond the domain of bibliography. Reflecting myriad currents of thought—the twilight of Romanticism and the dawn of Modernism, the rise and fall of Marxism, and the advent of multiculturalism, to name just a few—this volume offers a fascinating window on intellectual history through the prism of music.” More information is available on the RILM website (Speaking of Music).

Volume 33: Volume 33, covering publications from 1999, is awaiting the completion of iBis’s new print production module. As soon as it is complete, the volume will be published. It will contain over 19,000 records.

Volume 33 (supplemental): RILM has accumulated a large number of earlier (pre-1999) records that have not yet appeared in print. These records (approximately 20,500) may be published in a supplementary volume and will be the largest to date.

First International RILM Conference: Inspired by the fascinating reflection of music historiography in Speaking of Music, the International Center is organizing RILM’s first-ever conference, entitled Music’s Intellectual History: Founders, Followers, and Fads. It will take place at The Graduate Center of The City University of New York from 16 to 19 March 2005. The conference will aim to assess changing attitudes and viewpoints in writings on music from antiquity to the present. Proposals have been invited for papers on the following topics:

  • The attitudes of writers toward music history in antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance
  • The founders of modern music scholarship: Historians of the 18th and 19th centuries
  • Music scholarship and its parallels with histories of other humanistic disciplines (art history, anthropology, literary criticism, history, etc.)
  • (Re)writing music history in the postcolonial and post-communist world
  • New musicology
  • Ethnomusicology and musicology in the Americas
  • Relating the present to the past: From studies of music folklore to modern ethnomusicology
  • Reference books as a mirror of national music histories. How objective and balanced are these (self-) portraits of national music histories in general encyclopedias, and how do they change through successive editions?
  • What can reference works from the past tell us about the reception history of composers? Why are composers’ biographies being rewritten?

RILM has accepted over 70 paper proposals to date from musicologists, ethnomusicologists, and music librarians worldwide. We anticipate an exciting conference.

RILM and JSTOR: RILM partnered with JSTOR to create a list of core journals for JSTOR’s new Music Collection, a full-text archive of full runs of scholarly music journals. A committee of musicologists and librarians, convened by RILM, submitted their top picks using JSTOR’s criteria; the collated lists resulted in a final selection of some 35 journals. Last fall, JSTOR completed the digitization of these journals and launched the Music Collection online. For a list of titles, see RILM’s online records are linked to these (and other) full-text articles.

RILM Website: The RILM website ( has been updated and expanded to include more information, including the following:

  • Journal coverage: Both core and primary journals are listed alphabetically (Journals), and core journals are listed by country (see list of countries and committees on the Global Network page);
  • The revised scope guidelines are given in English, French, and German (Currently unavailable. They will be available on the submissions page.);
  • “How to write a RILM abstract” now appears in English, French, and German (English version [PDF]);
  • French and German versions are currently under revision and will be available on the submissions page);
  • Online order forms for printed volumes are provided (RILM now accepts credit cards on the publications page);
  • Lists of features of each of the RILM online interfaces are given, along with a table comparing them. The table was put together by the Electronic Reference Services Subcommittee of the Music Library Association (no longer available; please see list of vendor links).

Thanks to the German and French committees for helping us with the translations!

New Editorial Database System: The new web-based editorial database system (iBis, which stands for Internet Bibliographic Indexing System) has been launched at the International Center. While certain aspects of the program need further development—most notably a new print production module—the system is functioning quite well. Twelve national committees have begun to use the editorial database system for their RILM work (as well as all the editors at the International Center), and we hope that, eventually, nearly all committees will use iBis for their RILM work. To that end, we expect to further refine the interface to make the system as efficient for committees as possible. Thanks especially to Lenore Coral and Julie Schnepel for testing iBis on behalf of the committees and for their valuable suggestions. IBis stores the RILM data in Unicode, with the expectation that soon all diacritical marks will appear in RILM online.

RILM Commission Internationale Mixte: The RILM Commission Mixte—made up of representatives of RILM’s two sponsoring organizations, IAML and the IMS—oversees RILM’s editorial work. This year, Commission Mixte membership is experiencing an unusually large turnover. Two of the five representatives from IAML complete their final term this summer: Susanne Staral, who also chairs the very productive RILM committee in Germany, and Teresa Abejon, chair of the Spanish RILM committee. In addition, four of the five IMS representatives are completing their final terms, including the Commission’s excellent President, Catherine Massip, and its ever-helpful Vice President, Dorothea Baumann. Other IMS members completing their last terms are Daniel Leech-Wilkinson and Jane Hardie, both of whom have contributed significantly to our work. RILM heartily thanks all six members for their eight years (two terms) of service to RILM.

Barbara Dobbs Mackenzie