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Summary of Activities, 2007-08

Barbara Dobbs Mackenzie, Editor-in-Chief

RILM has had a busy and productive year. Volume 33 has been published, and two more books will appear before the end of 2008, one of which marks the beginning of a new RILM series (see below). Submissions by the national committees reached an all-time high this year, and the editing activities at the International Center have become more efficient, with the result that the database grew at an unprecedented rate this year. Online subscriptions are doing well, and finances are stable. Finally, RILM has launched a new website with many new features geared towards our users.

The contributions of national committees reached their highest number yet this year (1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008), totaling 15,087 new bibliographic main records and 393 review records, for a grand sum of 15,480 new records in the database, and 13,303 new abstracts. In the last ten years committee contributions have ranged from approximately 10,500 to 14,500 records, so this year is a notable achievement. In the past year RILM continued its committee expansion in East and Southeast Asia, which have been among the most underrepresented geographic areas, along with the Middle East, Central Asia, and India (which will be a focus of future expansion efforts). For a list of all RILM committees and their members, see the global network page.

The national committees are at the very core of the RILM project. Without them, RILM’s daunting but worthy mission of complete global coverage would be utterly impossible. The International Center does its best to cover additional publications not abstracted by our committees as much as we can with our limited resources. Because we have little access, if any, to publications in many countries, the only way to ensure their representation in RILM is with local help. To this end, RILM would like to establish new committees in countries that do not actively participate at present, and we could use the help of our colleagues. If you would like to become involved in the RILM project by establishing a RILM committee in your country or by putting us in touch with colleagues who might be interested in doing so—or, if you just want to find out more about what this involves—please contact Barbara Dobbs Mackenzie at

Innovation @ RILM

RILM’s website ( has been entirely redesigned with an eye to making RILM more transparent to users; for instance, the search page allows visitors to the site to browse classifications, document types, and a faceted list of subject headings. In addition, there is a new section on the history of RILM (with a brief chronology and the annual reports all the way back to the founding of RILM in 1967), news blurbs about the latest goings on, and much more. A summary of the site’s content is available in ten languages through corresponding buttons on the home page; more languages will be added as further translations are gathered. Perhaps the most notable feature of the new website is the new submission form for authors: Unlike the earlier form, the new one (available at queries the in-house editorial database directly, allowing contributors to check the existing records in the database before entering new ones. Anyone can access the forms, create a user ID and password (which takes just a moment), and query the database for their own name (or anyone else’s) to see what is in RILM. Because it queries the editorial database, it is always absolutely current—even if a new record was added minutes before someone queries the database, that record will be visible. It is easy to add abstracts to records already in the database, and it is easy to add completely new records for missing publications. A brief online tutorial can be consulted to familiarize new users with the forms.

RILM is now offering free live Internet-based tutorials for its current interfaces (EBSCO, NISC, OCLC, Ovid/SilverPlatter, ProQuest/CSA). That is, a bibliography class, a faculty member, a group of students, or a librarian can request a free tutorial via the website. A time can be agreed upon when that group or person will be linked with a staff member at the International Center who will provide a live tutorial on the most efficient search options for the relevant interface. The users and the RILM staff member will be viewing the same screen on their computers, control of the screen can be switched back and forth between the staff member and the users, and they can talk to one another as the tutorial is happening. In addition to a general introduction and searching tips, users can also ask specific research questions. To request a free tutorial, simply go to and click on the live tutorial button. This will open an email in which you can send your request to RILM.


The RILM database continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. We have surpassed the half-million mark by more than 40,000 records. During the past 12 months 33,091 new records and 3619 new reviews have been added. (These totals include committee submissions reported above; committee submissions are always supplemented by the work of editors at the RILM International Center in New York and by individual authors.) There are over 8000 retrospective records representing publications from 1835 to 1966 as well.

RILM continues to be available through five online vendors. RILM’s data have been significantly enhanced with the completion of the output in XML, which has been sent to all vendors. EBSCO and ProQuest/CSA have published the new data, and the other three vendors plan to do so before the end of 2008. Enhancements include the following:

Abstracts in multiple languages: RILM now publishes abstracts in the original language of the publication—in addition to the usual English translation—whenever we receive them from our national committees or other contributors. These non-English abstracts, of which there are well over 35,000 so far, appear with the following prefix: “[unedited non-English abstract received by RILM]”. The presence of these abstractss will both enrich the searching potential for non-English speakers and make RILM more useful for researchers who are more comfortable in other languages.

Non-roman characters: All writing systems can now be displayed, with the result that titles, abstracts, authors, and certain publication information can be seen in the original writing system of the publication (for those records in which that data is present in the database). Cyrillic, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Greek, Hebrew, and more are displayed in such RILM records, along with roman transliterations and English translations.

Links: There are now links between reviews and main records, and between cover records for collections of essays (Festschriften, conference proceedings, etc.) and the essays themselves. These links work both ways for easy navigation. In addition, links from records to full-text sources have increased significantly; these links are reliable from the earliest records in RILM to the most recent. There are also links from bibliographies in Grove to RILM, and EBSCO now includes links between RILM and Alexander Street Press’s Classical Music Library.

Retrospective records now online: The records in RILM’s retrospective file of conference proceedings are online now. These proceedings represent a comprehensive source for published papers on music given at conferences from 1835 to the present.

RILM in print

Volume 33 was published in the spring and is in the hands of subscribers. The publication of this volume signals a landmark in RILM history, as this will be the last annual printed cumulation to be published. Featuring 19,619 records in 91 languages, from 81 countries, volume 33 is the largest yet in our series of annual volumes stretching back to 1967. Future updates will appear online only. As annual printed volumes continued to grow in size, and researchers increasingly turned to electronic interfaces, it became clear that time and money spent on the production of printed volumes was better spent on improving RILM’s online presence. RILM continues, however, to issue new books in the RILM Retrospectives series and, coming soon, in the new RILM Perspectives series (see below).

Now that the final annual cumulation has been published, we are having an inventory sale. Libraries and individuals that want to complete their full runs of RILM in print will be able to purchase any missing volumes at reduced prices.

Liber amicorum: Music Festschriften, 1785–1966 is an abstracted and indexed bibliography of well over 7000 essays on musical topics from over 1260 Festschriften, including pertinent items from books not specifically devoted to musical topics. Reflecting the currents of history from the late eighteenth to the mid-twentieth century—the advent of ethnomusicology, the rise and fall of Nazism, and the heyday of serialism, to name just a few—this compilation provides vivid insights into the histories of cultures, disciplines, institutions, and prominent individuals. During the preparation of this volume, RILM editors handled 1259 books. The 8462 records originate from 46 countries and are in 32 languages. A special effort was made to capture music scholarship in the context of other disciplines; consequently, music scholarship most likely to have remained hidden in Festschriften dedicated to persons active in fields such as archeology, linguistics, theology, philosophy, and medicine will be brought to light. Starting with a commemoration of Händel published in 1785, the project comprehensively documents music culture through Festschriften dedicated to individuals, performing organizations, performance venues, publishers, religious institutions, academic institutions, instrument manufacturers, festivals, and cities.

Music’s intellectual history: Founders, followers & fads comprises the proceedings of our 2005 historiography conference. This book launches the new RILM Perspectives series. The volume includes 66 articles organized in the following sections:

  • Historiography and its methodology
  • Personalities: Music scholars
  • Personalities: Composers and their reception
  • National studies
  • Periodicals
  • Encyclopedias and reference works.

Barbara Dobbs Mackenzie