P.I.P. Turns 30! Periodicals Indexing Project (1972-2002)

By Penne, Rutger; Rubenstein, Gail | Journal of Film Preservation, December 2002 | Go to article overview

P.I.P. Turns 30! Periodicals Indexing Project (1972-2002)


Penne, Rutger, Rubenstein, Gail, Journal of Film Preservation


From the beginnings of cinema to the present day, from Lumière to Almodóvar, the International Index to Film Periodicals is a record of 30 years of film journal coverage. The Index began when the International Federation of Film Archives organized the Periodicals Indexing Project (P.I.P.) in 1972 in order to help FIAF archives collaborate and pool their resources. In the past, indexing had been a hit-and-miss affair. A few archives attempted to cover all the major titles, and they could only index selectively those in the less well-known languages. Many of the smaller archives indexed none at all. Every FIAF archive with ambitions to have a documentation service indexed some journals, usually the same ten or twenty of the best-known periodicals, as well as the most useful of their own national journals. It was obvious that there was wasteful duplication of effort and resources.

In 1971 it was Karen Jones from the FIAF Documentation Commission who presented the proposal to establish the P.I.P. at the FIAF Congress in Wiesbaden. She became the first editor when the project was launched the following year. Frances Thorpe took over from Karen Jones in 1975.Michael Moulds, who had served as editor in 1973,was appointed editor in 1981 and remained the editor until his retirement in 1998.

Initially the service involved sending out batches of 10.000 cards to FIAF affiliates every year.Word got around and institutions outside FIAF began to request subscriptions. The decision was made to publish the data in annual volumes, making it available to a much wider public, including libraries, academic institutions and individual researchers and students. The original card service was replaced by microfiches in 1983. 10 years later the microfiches were in turn replaced by a biannual CDROM edition, containing not only the data from the International Index to Film Periodicals but also several other FIAF databases. Between 1979 and 1998 a limited number of TV periodicals were indexed in the International Index to TV Periodicals. The annual volumes of the International Index to Film Periodicals continue to be produced (vol. 30 in September 2002); the International Index to Television Periodicals is no longer published. However, TV related articles from film journals are still indexed.

The ambition of the P.I.P. has always been to maintain high editorial standards. The superior quality of the indexing results from the contributions of specialists based in the countries in which the periodicals are published. The indexers are not only at home in the language in which the articles are written, but they are also knowledgeable about the cinema of that country. Indexing is sent to the P.I.P. office (currently located in Brussels), where it is checked by the editorial staff against the periodical for accuracy and consistency, and then included in the central database. These days most contributors index in a remote version of the database and direct access through the Internet is planned in the near future. To ensure complete coverage, a considerable number of titles are indexed in-house.

It's essential for an international project to adopt uniform standards and working procedures. Guidelines have been compiled by the P.I.P. staff and are regularly revised. A hierarchically ordered controlled thesaurus was established to help indexers and users to achieve consistency and clarity in selecting subject headings when indexing and retrieving periodical articles. Currently more than 20.000 subject terms are included. The list of Subject Headings is available in printed form.

30 years on, the International Index to Film Periodicals contains almost 300,000 article references from more than 300 of the world's foremost academic and popular film journals. In comparison to other film indexes the International Index to Film Periodicals is unique in the detailed information provided, including a full bibliographic description (author, title of the article, article type: i. …

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