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By Peters, Joe | Bulletin of the International Council for Traditional Music, October 2011 | Go to article overview

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Peters, Joe, Bulletin of the International Council for Traditional Music


RILM Report

This is a cumulative summary of two meeting of the Commission Mixte of RILM (Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale/International Repertory of Music Literature) at Dublin, Ireland, in July 2011, and in 2010 at the British Library in London. RILM's Commission Mixte comprises executives from the RILM office at the City University of New York in New York, and nominated members from the International Musicological Society (IMS), International Association of Music Libraries (IAML) and ICTM.

When the former secretary general, Stephen Wild, asked me to serve on the Commission Mixte I accepted immediately because I had dealings with RILM in its early years in the 1970s, and I understand the important role RILM was (and still is) performing in music database development. Singapore has subscribed to RILM from those early years despite the small output of academic work in music.

RILM is basically a database of abstracts which are obtained from a wide variety of sources. There is a core full time staff of some 22 people at the office in New York and they are diligently trying to expand the scope and effectiveness of this database to serve contemporary needs. The two familiar names in this office are Barbara Dobbs Mackenzie, editor-in-chief and Zdravko Blazekovic, executive editor, the official who is most often at ICTM international meetings. Their passion for providing service is contagious. I think much of the current success of RILM is due to the unrelenting work of these two individuals.

Over the last decade there has been active discussion on digitization of music assets and the building of robust databases within ICTM, as well as in many other organisations around the world. In Southeast Asia in particular, database discussion is endemic to every music conference. This to me, is a good sign that music is being seen through the eyes and minds of concerned and informed persons, as a phenomenon that would benefit most from database and digital technology. However, and sadly so, much of the robust discussion sometimes goes around in circles on topics like metadata, digital platforms, and even information categorisation and enduser interfaces and services. Not to mention prohibitive costs.

For most of us, we may know about information technology in tangential ways. It is true that IT (information Technology) and generally AV-IT technology, which affects music in a major way, is in a technologically transitive stage, and therefore, any stasis in extensive investment and development of functional digital databases, may be a contentious issue. However, the simple act of collecting abstracts, reviews, and information has no relationship to such macro-movements. RILM in my view understands this, and I am impressed in the multitiered manner that they are working towards the future.

IAML (International Associaton for Music Libraries) is the bedrock of RILM when it comes to their world outreach. Commission Mixte meetings are always strategically planned to dovetail the yearly IAML general meeting. RILM has many national committees and that seems to flow with IAML ones. RILM has been hoping that ICTM could come in and add value to the database though their international network too, particularly in Asia. …

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