RIPM Preservation Series

The RIPM Preservation Series

An Expansion of the former RIPM e-Library

Why create the Preservation Series?

Approximately 4500 periodicals were published between roughly 1760 and 1966. If we assume that twenty-five percent of these titles require treatment by RIPM, then RIPM's goal is to digitize and to provide access to some 1125 titles. From RIPM's first publication in 1988 to 2017, RIPM has produced 318 volumes, indexes to 271 journals of which 170 are available in full-text. The number, consistency and regularly of publication was described by one reviewer as "a dream of productivity that is virtually unprecedented in the field of music scholarship." Yet, even at this rate of production, RIPM would need some 115 years to index only twenty-five percent of this monumental repertory. Clearly, it is necessary to increase the speed with which accessible full-text journals can be made available. RIPM’s response to this log jam is the RIPM Preservation Series.

What type of search tool best suits gaining access to a large number of journals in a reasonable amount of time?

The time required to treat a journal in RIPM Annotated Series is an extensive, manual process, as the indexing and content description is created by scholars. This method has the advantage of providing access both to indexing terms and to the context in which the terms appear. For example, if Berlioz writes an harmonic analysis of a musical passage without mention of the word “harmony,” the indexer will supply this term in the content description and the user, searching for the term “harmony” will locate the pertinent passage even though the searched term does not appear in the journal. The disadvantage of this system is, to repeat, the length of time required to index a journal manually, which obviously limits the number of journals treated.

Access to content in RIPM Preservation Series is based upon optical character recognition (OCR) technology. This technology transforms pictures of letters into text and consequently provides access to all words, but it does not provide information concerning the context in which the search term(s) appears.

However, the Preservation Series is quite different from the other systems of access based on OCR, because it was planned with journals rather than monographs in mind. Thus, while the Google Books and HathiTrust offer access to journals on a volume to volume basis, reflecting the holdings of contributing libraries only with little or no effort to supply complete runs, the Preservation Series simultaneously provides access to all the issues of a journal (an extensive effort in itself) and equally to all journals. Like Google Books and HathiTrust, the RIPM Preservation Series does not offer titling information or the identification of specific types of content (reviews, illustrations, poem, analysis etc.). But unlike the others, the Preservation Series:

Finally, when downloading a single page, the page number is automatically included. When downloading multiple pages, the user must select the page numbers, and, if desired, add further bibliographic information, such as article title and author’s name.

A word about the usefulness of supplying title information

Given the documentation with which RIPM deals, title information alone does not generally permits the user to determine immediately if the context in which a search term appears is useful to one’s research. Invariably one must see the search term in context to make a decision. In our opinion, therefore, scholarship is better served if RIPM provides access to more journals, lots of them, with rapid access to the terms searched, a density sort and full Boolean search features, rather than slow the flow of available journals to a trickle in order to fully annotate the content of all journals treated.

Your participation in the process

The Preservation Series offers access to a large collection of music journals. In order to do so, we have developed a procedure that requires a modest amount of interaction with the scholar. It is important to note: (i) that references in the Preservation Series lead directly to the search terms (highlighted) within the text and not to the title(s) of articles in which they appear and (ii) that scholars in some cases must manually add bibliographical information to documents saved. The trade-off is this: a modest amount of user participation for a greater number of accessible full-text pages.

What happens now to the RIPM Retrospective Index with Full Text?

Nothing changes. The creation of the RIPM Preservation Series does not affect the regular production of the RIPM Retrospective Index and the RIPM Retrospective Index with Full Text. RIPM will continue to produce annotated indexes and calendars prepared by scholars linked to full-text copies of journals. Furthermore, inclusion in the Preservation Series does not preclude the possibility of future indexing of selected journals therein; it simply allows RIPM to release more journals in a timely fashion. Our mission is to preserve and to provide access to music periodical literature; the Preservation Series is another tool allowing us to fulfill that objective.

How are journals selected for the Annotated and Preservation Series?

The answer to this question is less clear than we would like it to be. While, in principle, one would treat the “more important” journals in the Annotated Series, how does one define “most important”? In some cases this is obvious, in many others, less so. Also, the choice depends upon the availability of indexers, financial resources, the length of time required to index a journal, and to the factors outlined below.

  1. Those with very long publication runs, such as the Musical Courier (New York, 1880-1964), Il Trovatore (Milan, 1853-1914), Le Ménestrel (Paris, 1833-1940), or Die Musik (Berlin, Leipzig, Stuttgart; 1901-1943), each containing tens or hundreds of thousands of pages.
  2. Those with very dense content. Many journals contain enormous amounts of news, advertising, and miscellaneous information. One page may contain more than 30 discreet bibliographic items, any of which may be of interest. Based on a study of sample issues of Musical America (New York, 1898-1962), manual indexing of this title would produce over two million records, nearly triple the size of the number of records in the RIPM Retrospective Index.
  3. Those published in countries either not participating or participating on an irregular basis in RIPM.
  4. Those of focus and scope not treated in the Retrospective Index. Many journals focus on specialized topics, such as the music trades, individual instruments, musical education, musicology, or jazz; others may combine both musical and non-musical content, such as theatrical journals.

As is RIPM's general practice, titles included in the Preservation Series will be available, within the constraints of copyright and the availability of extant copies, in complete runs. Many of the selected titles require significant reconstruction being assembled from incomplete copies in multiple libraries.

Databases and full-text publications in the RIPM Annotated Series and the first database in RIPM Preservation Series: European and North American Music Periodicals are available on the RIPMPlus Platform and on EBSCOHost. The second title in the RIPM Preservation Series: Jazz Periodicals will be available exclusively on the RIPMPlus platform.