The Music Index on CD-ROM: A Subject-Author Guide to Music Periodical Literature

By Abromeit, Kathleen | Notes, June 1997 | Go to article overview

The Music Index on CD-ROM: A Subject-Author Guide to Music Periodical Literature


Abromeit, Kathleen, Notes


While other disciplines have embraced the technological era and have advanced beyond the vision of an electronic index to secondary literature, the discipline of music continues to plod along without access to a well-designed, comprehensive electronic index to its periodical literature. Interestingly, RILM Abstracts, which relies heavily on the labor and expertise of librarians and scholars within the music community, was, until recently, the only surviving electronic index. Although Chadwyck-Healey used the data from Music Index in 1992 to produce an electronic version of the well-known title, the product received poor reviews, and Chadwyck-Healey ultimately decided to abandon it and to create a new index using their own abstracting and indexing staff. International Index to Music Periodicals (IIMP), which was recently made available for purchase, is the result of these efforts. At the same time, Harmonie Park Press has collaborated with the Conway Greene Publishing Company (which has provided content development and technical support) to produce The Music Index on CD-ROM 1979-1993.

The Music Index on CD-ROM 1979-1993 combines data from Harmonie Park Press's print index, The Music Index, with Folio Views[R] 3.1 software. Search possibilities include subject heading, word combination, or bibliographic information from the citations. Search results can be printed or downloaded, and the user can customize information with notes, highlighters, and annotations. The Music Index on CD-ROM is also a hypertext product, with links to related headings and cross references. Links may also be made to the book review section related to a particular entry by following links to the main author's last name. Headings and cross reference links are displayed in green, and author links to book reviews are displayed in blue.

The Music Index on CD-ROM is organized by subject-author headings, called subject headings. Under each subject heading are all bibliographic entries, presented alphabetically, indexed under that heading. Each entry includes a field for author/title, for the periodical, for the month/season, and for the year. Each element is searchable, allowing searching by headings, fields, or full text queries, individually or in combination. Four search screens ("Query Templates") are available for searches. One uses the subject screen to search the subject-author headings list; the fields screen to search the author/title, periodical, and date fields; the reviews screen to search for book reviews; and the keyword screen to search keywords within subject headings.

The only significant difference between the Windows and the Macintosh versions of this product is the placement of the "toolbelt." While the "toolbelt" is positioned across the top of the screen in the Windows version, in the Macintosh version the search buttons are the first four buttons on the "toolbelt" on the left-hand side of the screen. The buttons are not labeled with words as they are in the Windows version; rather, search types are designated by numbers. Thus, button 1 is for subject heading searches, button 2 is for field searches, button 3 is for book review searches, and button 4 is for keyword searches. These buttons could be quite confusing for the novice user, who might hope for a designation more intuitive and more informative than simply "button 1" to indicate a subject heading search.

Authors appear both as subject headings and as a searchable element within the author/title field. When an author search is executed for an author who has one citation in the index, the user is told that there are two hits, one hit for the author's name as a subject heading and another hit for the citation itself, a misleading situation for the uninitiated user. Furthermore, Music Index on CD-ROM continues to have problems with authority control of names in the index. Several forms of a name may be given, and the use of cross-references is inconsistent. …

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