The RIPM Online Archive of Music Periodicals (Full-Text): Overview
The RIPM Archive consists of original volumes, reprints, microforms and photocopies of music periodicals, collected initially for indexing. Also contained in the Archive are periodicals scanned by RIPM from the collections of Partner or Participating Libraries. Several obstacles are regularly confronted in the development of the Archive: (i) the difficulty encountered in locating copies of the journals (even in the country where they were published); (ii) the frequent necessity to cull together a journal’s complete run from two or more collections; and (iii) the often very fragile condition of the journals, in part reflected in deteriorating paper in the process of turning to dust. While the Archive grew out of the necessity to obtain copies of documents for indexing purposes, the Archive’s mission has grown, also by necessity, to encompass both their RECONSTRUCTION and their PRESERVATION—a mighty challenge for an organization such as ours. Nevertheless, these precious documents must not be permitted to disappear for a significant part of our musical patrimony would disappear with them.
The word Archive in the title RIPM Online Archive of Music Periodicals (Full-Text) is important, for the Archive is a digital collection of periodicals reproducing originals in varying conditions. Many journals in the Archive were scanned from originals in pristine condition, others less so, and still others were scanned from service copies of microfilm or even photocopies. While a considerable effort has been made to digitize documents in excellent condition, at times this has not been possible. We have therefore captured what is available, and while a better copy might be found in a far-off collection, the idea of delaying digitization until it was available seemed to us counter- productive and too utopian a scheme to pursue. Thus the question that determined whether a document was scanned for dissemination in the Archive was: “Can we read it with a reasonable amount of ease (even with a bit of difficulty)?” If yes, it was scanned. It has been RIPM’s position that a digitized copy, even if imperfect, is better than no copy at all, until of course a better copy becomes available.
RIPM’s practice is to produce high quality archival images (400 DPI grayscale) of all periodicals and to distribute derivatives of them over the Internet. On occasion however we may be obliged to include a title in a bitonal format. For security, RIPM’s archival images are preserved in four locations: at the RIPM International Center, at a location in the geographical area of the RIPM Center, in a deep ex-salt mine in the Midwestern United States, and in India.
Short-lived journals are often encountered during the period treated by RIPM. However the period also offers journals that may be described as “Monumental” for several reasons: (i) the length and regularity of their publication runs—from generally over a quarter-century to well over one hundred years—(ii) the sheer magnitude of the documentation they contain, (iii) their wide-ranging scope, (iv) the detailed chronicle they reflect of musical life, (v) the overall quality of their reviews, articles and essays, (vi) their interest in subject of both historical and contemporary significance, (vii) their reflection of international, national and local concerns, and (viii) because they provide extensive primary source material for the study of musical history.
The “Monumental Journals” include some of the best-known and highly-regarded music periodicals of the period: Belgium [Le Guide musical (1855-1914; 1917-1918)]; France [La Revue et Gazette musicale de Paris (Paris, 1835-1880), L'Art musical (Paris, 1860-1870; 1872-1894), and Le Ménestrel (1833-1914; 1919-1940)]; Germany [Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung (1798-1848; 1863-1882) and Neue Zeitschrift für Musik (1834-present)]; Great Britain [The Musical World (1836-1891), The Musical Times (1842-present) and The Monthly Musical Record (1871–1960)]; Italy [Gazzetta musicale di Milano (1842-1902) and the Rivista musicale italiana (1894–1932; 1936–1943; 1946–1955)]; The Netherlands [Caecilia: Algemeen Muzikaal Tijdschrift van Nederland (1844-1944)]; and The United States [Dwight's Journal of Music (Boston, 1852-1881)]. These titles will appear in the RIPM Online Archive.
The Selection of Periodicals
An international board of distinguished scholars, librarians and archivists, with each member representing a country or geographical area, selects titles for priority treatment by RIPM. Of the selected titles a reviewer wrote: “the planned coverage is excellent...the thought and care that the editorial board took in the selection of lesser known items that often illuminate years of political and social crisis and musical change make the result invaluable.” [Journal of the American Musicological Society 43 (1990), p. 499]