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RIPM Online Archive of Music Periodicals (Full-Text).

RIPM Online Archive of Music Periodicals (Full-Text). Baltimore, MD: RIPM Publications. (Accessed November 2009-January 2010). [H. Robert Cohen, founder and director, RIPM; Benjamin Knysak, coordinator, RIPM Online Archive. Annual institutional subscription, based on FTE: $1347-$4144. Also available from EB-SCO Publications. Annual institutional subscription, $l,350-$4,200. Please note that pricing may vary depending on consortium agreements, number of databases to which an institution is subscribed, and other factors.]

Over the years since the first RIPM (Repertoire international de la presse musicale) volumes were published in 1988, librarians and researchers have rejoiced at having bibliographic access to many of the music periodicals of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Hours of leafing through a journal's issues, page by page, have been avoided. Yet, as a user finds a needed piece of information in the index, his or her joy is often abruptly mitigated as he or she asks the next question, "Where can I get this article?" In most cases, only a few libraries hold the needed title, and many of those holdings are incomplete. Interlibrary loan requests and the consultation of microfilms have been the normal courses of action. As one writer noted, "there is something frustrating in having the elegant volumes of RIPM lining the shelves of your reference library, reminding you of what you lack" (Kerry Murphy, "[Review of] Hector Berlioz, La critique musicale 1823-1X63, Vol. I: 1823-1834," Journal of the Royal Music Association 123, no. 1 [1998]: 108). This frustration is especially acute as technology advances and digitization efforts multiply.

The RIPM Online Archive of Music Periodicals (Full-Text) meets the needs of twenty-first-century researchers by providing immediate access to digital images of the periodicals themselves. The plan is to digitize and make available online as many of the periodicals that RIPM indexes as possible, though copyright restrictions may prevent some twentieth-century journals from being included. The online archive is accessed through the RIPM Retrospective Index to Music Periodicals (1800-1950), essentially adding the index to the number of full-text indexes available in the arts and humanities. Core funding for the development of the online archive was provided by two successive two-year grants from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Released in May 2009, the initial installment of periodicals in the archive contains fifty-one journals in ten languages published between 1805 (Berlinische Musikalische Zeitung) and 1962 (The Juilliard Review). New titles are to be added every six months; the January installment will add the content of ten more journals. Although many of the titles in this initial release are periodicals of short runs, this installment also includes titles of major importance, such as Dwight's Journal of Music and La revue musicale. A full listing of the titles in the online archive is available at the RIPM Web site (

The online archive is drawn from the archive of music periodicals that RIPM indexes. Original copies, reprints, microforms, and photocopies are all used to compile complete runs of titles. Those materials not available in the RIPM archive are supplied in large part by the libraries participating in RIPM's Library Partner Program. Currently, libraries from seven institutions participate in the program: Curtis Institute of Music, Harvard Musical Association, Library of Congress, New York Public Library, Eastman School of Music, University of Maryland, and Yale University. Approximately twenty-five other libraries have also contributed materials.

Although the images produced from these materials are archival-quality grayscale images, the items themselves are not necessarily in pristine condition. These materials reflect those that you might find in a typical library collection, with the occasional and regrettable underlining and margin notes, stains, ink bleed-through, fold marks, or microfilm scratches. Usually, these blemishes do not interfere with the readability of the document. RIPM's policy is a pragmatic one: if the page is readily readable, however imperfect, it is used. If a better copy is found later, the page can be replaced, Those interested in more information on the technical aspects of the online archive (scanning, optical character recognition, etc.) should consult the article, "RIPM: Online Archive of Music Periodicals (1800-1950)" by H. Robert Cohen and Benjamin Knysak (Fontes Artis Musicae 54, no. 4 [October-December 2007]: 391-420).

Despite RIPM's best efforts, several volumes are found to have missing pages. These instances are clearly marked by a notice inserted in place of the missing page. Missing supplements are also marked in this way. In Dwight's Journal of Music, for example, we find that all the musical supplements are lacking. A list of missing issues and supplements can be found in the help file.

Comparisons to JSTOR are, perhaps, inevitable. From a collection development standpoint, the two products are distinct. The RIPM Online Archive preserves and makes accessible content that is relatively rare, as it is primary source material for research. JSTOR archives periodicals that are published more recently, and offers what is better characterized as largely secondary material. There is nearly no overlap between the two products. In fact, only the journal Tempo (forthcoming in RIPM) can be found in both databases.

The content of the online archive can be accessed through the RIPM Retrospective Index (search mode), or by selecting the desired title and navigating through the pages as if reading the paper copy (browse mode). When browsing, the user selects the periodical title, year, and issue from successive dropdown menus. Titles that are available in full-text are marked with the indication "ROA" (RIPM Online Archive), and appear in a brown-colored font. Once a title is selected, an annotated table of contents, or "calendar," appears. This is the same calendar that appears in the print volumes of RIPM, reflecting the contents of the issue with editorial additions to provide additional access. For the full-text titles, the entries in the calendar are hyperlinked to PDFs; clicking on one of these links will reveal the periodical page in a new browser window. "Previous" and "Next" buttons allow the user to move through issues of a title without returning to the menus. It should also be noted that browser pop-up blockers must be turned off for the online archive to work properly.

The display of the images can be adjusted with buttons on the right-hand navigation bar. The user may select "Fit Page" to view the whole page at once, as well as "Fit Width" or "Zoom" in and out. The image itself may be dragged to different positions in the browser window using the mouse. Additional buttons on the navigation bar allows the user to move through the journal page-by-page, citation-by-citation, or page-by-page within a citation. (Citations in browse mode are the entries in the table of contents.) The section of the periodical corresponding to the citation is highlighted, which is a nice feature when faced with a dense page of text. The bibliographic citation for the periodical being browsed appears at the top of the page for easy reference. The images may be printed or saved as a PDF file. A cover page provides the terms and conditions of use, the bibliographic citation, the static URL for the file, and the date and time the file was printed or saved.

The RIPM Online Archive of Music Periodicals (Full-Text) is not a stand-alone product. An institution must have a subscription to the RIPM Retrospective Index to subscribe to the online archive, In essence, there are now two versions of the RIPM Index available: the original citation-only index, and the new full-text index. The online archive is currently only available through RIPM Publications and EB-SCO Publications. In browse mode, the online archive is similar in both products; in search mode, however, the search interfaces of the RIPM and EBSCO products differ for the online archive.

RIPM has created a new interface for the Retrospective Index--one that is designed to work with the online archive. It includes a basic search--which consists of a single keyword search box and a dropdown menu for language limiting--as well as an advanced search. The advanced search offers three search boxes ("Keywords," "Author," and "Author Edited"), and dropdown menus to limit the search by language, periodical title, year, and type of material (illustration, review, advertisement, etc.). The "Author" and "Author Edited" fields are especially useful for searching pseudonyms. Entering "Schumann, Robert" in the "Author Edited" field retrieves all the works by Schumann, regardless of the pseudonym used. Entering a specific pseudonym in the "Author" field, such as "Florestan," retrieves only those articles under that name. In general, users must remember that in the RIPM online index, as in the print editions, spelling variants are not standardized; each must be included in a search to ensure complete results.

More options are available by clicking on the "Search Options" button. Here, one can activate the "Wildcard" (i.e., truncation), and "Auto-Suggest" functions. The latter option displays suggested terms as you type, providing access to the underlying indexes of the product. It is on this "Search Options" form that one can also limit searches to two or more languages, choose sort options and initiate "Guided Boolean" searching.

Results appear on the bottom half of the screen, with a red "ROA" icon indicating those citations that are available full-text in the online archive. Clicking on one of these citations opens a browser window with the desired image from the archive. This is where the integration of the Retrospective Index with the online archive is clearly evident. Using the "citation" buttons on the navigation bar of the online archive, the user can move easily through the search results, allowing one to browse through possibly disparate periodicals without returning to the search results. Navigation buttons also return the user to the Retrospective Index for a new search, mediating the difficulties of having two browser windows open.

The EBSCO host interface for the RIPM Retrospective Index accesses the same data as RIPM Publications' interlace. Most library users are familiar with EBSCO host and the variety of search options available there, including abilities to combine past search sets and to search across multiple databases. Users familiar with discovery tools will appreciate the sidebars that allow faceted narrowing and limiting of results sets by periodical title and date. With the EBSCO product, however, there is little integration of the index with the online archive; they function as two different products with very different looks and feels.

In the results set of the index, items with images in the online archive are marked with the red "ROA" icon and a hyperlinked text. Clicking on the hyperlink takes the user to the image. One cannot move among citations from within the EBSCO version of the online archive, however, nor is there a navigation button directing the user back to the search screen. The help file for the online archive is not available in the EBSCO RIPM Index; the user must be within the archive to access it.

RIPM recommends using Firefox or Internet Explorer to view the online archive. Both browsers were used for the purposes of this review and no problems were encountered. Although the images in the online archive loaded quickly and without incident, a broadband connection is certainly recommended.

In some ways, the online archive shows its youth. The ability to provide usage statistics is coming, but is not ready as I write this review. The help files, which are full of descriptive screen shots, would be more useful if they included more specific information. One must go to the RIPM Web site and read the "Users' Guide" page to fully understand the RIPM calendars and the symbols used within them. Incorporating this information into the help file, or linking directly to it from the Web site, would better assist users who are not familiar with the print volumes. Also, more specific information about search strategies using the new RIPM interface would be helpful. Nowhere is it explained, for example, what the default search is or how to truncate when using the basic search. Such details are minor, however, and should not detract from the overall quality of the product.


As we move forward, and as users' expectations continue to rise, one wonders if the time will come to move away from the annotated table of contents (the calendar) as the heart of RIPM. Because it allows users to browse journals without having direct access to them, as well as allows indexers a means to consistently and efficiently provide bibliographic access to journals while keeping the print volumes a manageable size, the calendar is an ingenious innovation. But as the online archive grows, will the need to use the calendar as a surrogate source for indexing terms continue? Only time will tell.


University of Colorado at Boulder

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Author:Mantz, Stephen L.
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2010
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