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Summary of Activities, 2008-09

Barbara Dobbs Mackenzie, Editor-in-Chief

Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale (RILM) publishes RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, an international bibliography of writings about music (see Online subscriptions are available from EBSCO, OCLC, Ovid, and ProQuest. From 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009 a total of 31,725 main records and 3981 reviews were added to the bibliography.

The contributions of national committees reached their highest number yet this year, totaling 16,494 new bibliographic main records and 456 review records (for a grand sum of 16,950 new records in the database) as well as 13,108 new abstracts. China contributed the highest number of new records this year (over 5000), followed by Germany (over 3000); there were almost 2000 from the U.S. and well over 1000 from Russia. Those national committees in smaller countries that steadfastly contribute abstracts of their important publications to RILM are every bit as valuable, and RILM acknowledges and thanks all of them. (For a list of all RILM committees and their members, see the global network page.) The national committees are at the core of the RILM project. Without them, one of the strongest aspects of the database—its international coverage—would be far more limited indeed. Instead, not only does coverage continue to expand globally, but the data itself reflects this global focus better than ever. An increasing number of database fields for records of publications in non-roman alphabets contain the original non-roman data (titles, authors, and even abstracts) along with transliterations and English translations. And more and more abstracts in the language of the publication are included side-by-side with their English translations.

As always, the International Center in New York does its best to cover publications not abstracted by the national committees as much as possible given limited resources. This year, 18,756 records originated at the International Center. However, because the Center has 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 colleagues worldwide. To become involved in the RILM project, contact Barbara Dobbs Mackenzie at

Innovation @ RILM

RILM’s website ( has been updated with an eye to making RILM more useful; for instance, the “Searching” page allows visitors to the site to browse classifications or major topics, document types, and a faceted list of subject headings. There is a section on the history of RILM, blog entries about the latest goings-on at RILM, and much more. The author submissions forms have been redesigned as of 1 July 2009 and are more user-friendly than ever. Anyone can access the forms, create a user ID and password (which takes about one minute), and query the database for their own name (or anyone else’s) to see what is in RILM. It is easy to add abstracts to records already in the database or to add completely new records for missing publications.

There is a new section on the website entitled “Downloads for Libraries” (see the blue button on the homepage), which contains three items aimed especially at the library community:

a short description of RILM (just a few lines long) that can be copied and pasted onto library websites, thus updating any out-of-date or inaccurate versions.

two versions of the RILM logo that can be copied and pasted onto library websites or wherever else they may be of use.

two RILM brochures in PDF, which can be saved to library or departmental websites, emailed to patrons, or printed out and distributed. The 2009 brochure functions as an introduction for those unfamiliar with RILM, and the 2007 brochure contains details about RILM’s coverage.

RILM is continuing to offer free, live, web-based tutorials. The need for precise search and browse strategies grows with the number of records in the database. RILM tutorials highlight these strategies and demonstrate search features that have recently become more powerful, thanks to the availability of the data in XML format. Upon demand, special topics can be explored during the tutorials. The sessions are aimed at music librarians, faculty, and graduate and undergraduate classes. Tutorials can be requested through the website, or by sending an email to

A new RILM Facebook page has been established in an effort to increase communication with users and contributors. To find the page, go to and search for RILM. The Facebook page contains information about RILM as well as an RSS feed from the website and a link to our bookmarks on at (these bookmarks are the websites RILM staff find most useful). If you choose to become a “fan” of RILM, you will automatically received updates when there is news to report. Most of all, we hope the page encourages dialogue with our users about accessing and navigating the database. There are areas on the page to start or join a discussion or post comments, questions, suggestions, and feedback. RILM staff will be monitoring and responding to these communications, and other fans can also join in the discussions.


The following chart shows the number of main accession records and reviews in each RILM year from the beginning of the project. Note that there are now almost 19,000 retrospective records going back to 1835.

RILM YearMain RecordsReviews RILM YearMain RecordsReviews
Pre-19005272 19879,2031,908
1900-498,079121 198810,4472,165
1950-669,705155 198911,4672,247
19672,712815 199010,9672,220
19684,0811,289 199111,3542,420
19694,7771,358 199213,1452,772
19703,8243,824 199313,5882,771
19714,351948 199414,2672,883
19723,835844 199515,8602,748
19734,252814 199617,1232,723
19743,915653 199719,1222,397
19754,508954 199817,3501,630
197615,4122,671 199938,8945,083
19775,5891,280 200029,4862,848
19785,8151,258 200121,1782,523
19795,3251,161 200219,5192,714
19805,2991,195 200317,4052,675
19815,9851,478 200417,2442,549
19825,5901,336 200514,8792,415
19836,1631,441 200614,5672,454
19846,9671,553 200712,0401,695
19856,7101,555 20088,342566
19866,3081,153 20091,57221

As mentioned above, RILM is available online through EBSCO, OCLC, Ovid, and ProQuest. (Last fall NISC sold its business to EBSCO, with the result that the BiblioLine interface no longer exists, and RILM is not available on CD-ROM any more.) All four distributors have published RILM’s enhanced XML data, with the result that RILM is far better for users. Improvements include cleaned-up older data, increased and more reliable links to full-text sources, the inclusion of retrospective records, abstracts in multiple languages, the display of non-roman characters, and more.

RILM’s four online distributors report monthly usage statistics, and while these reports have shown steadily increasing usage in recent years, a significant leap occurred in the year just ended. From 1 July 2008 to 30 June 2009 usage more than doubled: RILM was searched worldwide some six million times. Dividing that number by 365 shows that, on average, RILM was searched almost 16,500 times every day.

RILM in print

Liber Amicorum: Festschriften for music scholars and nonmusicians, 1840–1966: This volume is the 5th in the RILM Retrospectives Series. It abstracts and indexes some 3880 articles from 715 Festschriften for music scholars and others.

Festschriften for musicians: This will be a sequel to the volume above and will appear, as volume 6 in the RILM Retrospective Series, in 2010. It includes abstracts of articles from Festschriften published in honor of performers and composers.

Music’s intellectual history: This book contains 67 articles and will be the inaugural volume in the new RILM Perspectives Series. Authors include such notable scholars as Theodore Albrecht, Anna Maria Busse Berger, Ivano Cavallini, Nicholas Cook, Timothy J. Cooley, Ruth I. DeFord, Marco Di Pasquale, Florence Gétreau, Niels Krabbe, Daniel Leech-Wilkinson, Philippe Vendrix, and many more. It is approximately 900 pages long and is divided into the following chapters:

  • Historiography and its methodology
  • Personalities: Music scholars
  • Personalities: Reception of composers
  • National studies
  • Periodicals
  • Encyclopedias and reference books

How to write about music: The RILM manual of style: The second edition of the style manual continues to be available; hundreds of copies are purchased every year.

All RILM books can be purchased through the website.

Critical Editions in RILM

Critical editions of music have been within RILM’s scope from the very beginning of the project, mainly because of the scholarship contained in their critical apparatus. The document type “CW” was created expressly for them. Two papers given at the RILM session at the IAML/IMS joint conference in Amsterdam in July 2009 focused on critical editions: Niels Krabbe of Det Kongelige Bibliotek in Copenhagen discussed the complete Carl Nielsen edition, and Eva Velicka of The Bohuslav Martinů Institute, Prague, talked about the Bohuslav Martinů complete edition.

Since 1967 there have been, on average, a couple of hundred critical editions represented in RILM each year. A far greater proportion of the total records in RILM were devoted to critical editions in the 1960s and early 1970s, falling off somewhat from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s and then rebounding again up until now. Germany and the U.S. published roughly equal numbers of those critical editions represented in RILM; together they total about half of all such records. Italy and the U.K. follow, with about a fifth of the total number, and then Spain and France, with about a tenth. Next come Hungary and Austria, followed by a long tail of 68 more countries whose critical editions have appeared in RILM in much smaller numbers.

We welcome the submissions of all critical editions not yet represented in the bibliography. RILM indexes these records by composer and genre in addition to other subject headings where appropriate.

Barbara Dobbs Mackenzie