WESSWEB - Western European Specialists Section Newsletter

Vol. 18, No. 1 (Fall, 1994)
New Haven, Connecticut
Page 4

CD-ROM Review

IBZ CD-ROM: Internationale Bibliographie der Zeitschriftenliteratur (1989-1993). Osnabrück: Felix Dietrich Verlag/Distr.: Zeller Verlag, c1987-1994.

The database of the 1989-1993 IBZ consists of 600,000 articles from ca. 5,000 scholarly periodicals from around the world, dealing with "all fields of knowledge." The compact disc is based on the printed edition but it offers some features in electronic format which are not available in the printed version. The CD is a cumulation of all indexes (classed, author, and controlled subject vocabulary) from the printed version, and further allows for both Boolean operators and truncated searching; it also contains editor, ISSN/ISBN, periodical title, article date and true keyword searching.

The 1989-1993 cumulation of the CD version costs DM 1,800 (ca. $1,170) for libraries which already own the printed versions for those years. The annual subscription rate for the CD-ROM in subsequent years is DM 4,900 (ca. $3,185), with permission for multiple-user applications; a cumulative update will appear twice a year, and ultimately a single disc will cover the years 1994-1999.

The compact disc version runs on an IBM-compatible personal computer (AT 286 or higher) with a MS-DOS 3.0 or higher operating system, 640 KB of memory (512 free), and a compact disc player. Installation and retrieval software are included on the compact disc, and is installed by a simple menu-driven process. The documentation (in English and German) is clear and simple to use; in comparison to the search protocols for many of the CD-ROM bibliographies in current, it is very sophisticated and efficient.

The IBZ employs an easy-to-use search protocol and on a 486/66 personal computer, it executes and displays searches quickly and clearly. But what about the accuracy of its citations? In general I found the database to be reliable and accurate, but perhaps coincidentally, each of the five searches performed on Latin American subjects produced results with significant typographical errors.

The IBZ on CD-ROM would appear to be a reference librarian's dream come true: a single source for all the world's scholarly periodical literature in a fast, easy-to-use format which uses standard equipment and technology. It compares well in scope to some of the standard indices for the humanities and social sciences found in many North American research libraries:

	             Journals covered	Journals in IBZ

Social Science Index 340 2400

PsychLIT 1300 1220

Humanities Index 345 2200

Applied Sci & Tech Index 391 629

Art Index 213 336

Philosopher's Index 300 525

British Humanities Index 250 3700

Appl Social Sci Index 500 2400

General Science Index 139 1500

(Table courtesy of Knut Dorn and the IBZ)

But upon closer examination, the advantages of the IBZ's inclusiveness and its extremely broad range of languages are offset by practical questions concerning the availability and usefulness of many of the citations which it identifies: how many North American scholars and students, for example, will be able to use an article on the German-Polish border written in Bulgarian--assuming that the article can be obtained at all? Moreover, its broad subject scope is inevitably compared to the narrower and more focused objectives of specialized scholarly periodical bibliographies such as the MLA International Bibliography or Historical Abstracts. These comparisons with more compact, subject-specific bibliographies are not always flattering for the IBZ. And when compared to generic online current periodical bibliographies such as ISI's Current Contents Online (CC) and Information Access Company's Magazine & Journal Article Database (MAGS), which cover approximately the same period, these same questions of practicality and usefulness become even more important.

Some examples will illustrate the point: a search on the 20th-century German author Ernst Wiechert in the IBZ produced 2 citations; in the MLA there were 5 for the same period. Martin Malia (the celebrated Russian historian who signed his articles "Z" in the New York Times) was not listed at all in the IBZ, but had 15 citations in Current Contents and 16 in MAGS. Under a journal title search, the IBZ found only 3 articles in Romance Philology, while the MLA CD-ROM turned up 6; at the same time CC indexed and listed the contents of 22 full issues of the journal. In search after search, using keywords, journal titles, personal authors and other search keys, the much wider sweep of the IBZ in terms of coverage consistently yielded fewer citations than smaller, more specialized indices.

The question for librarians is whether there is more value in a very broad, but in many instances relatively shallow general periodical database, or in a variety of smaller, more discrete and more focused databases which treat narrower subject areas in more depth. One might also ask if the variety of languages indexed by the IBZ adds any practical value to the search potential for most users of North American research collections. In the case of the largest research libraries, the answer to both questions is probably yes; there is a value in having access to a broad spectrum of subjects in a single source, and there is potential value in citations in highly esoteric languages. But neither characteristic of the IBZ will allow research libraries to rely on it in lieu of the standard subject sources, and it cannot be said that the IBZ represents an adequate replacement for them. It must be considered as an additional tool, and indeed a secondary one, for basic periodical bibliography in the humanities and social sciences.

That does not mean, however, that it has no place in present-day North American reference collections. With the general availability of specialized subject periodical bibliographies in online and CD-ROM format, the IBZ represents an extension of our searching capabilities to subjects and languages which are excluded from most comparable databases. Its sheer size is a positive feature, as is the extensiveness of its subject categories, especially for fields of the humanities and social sciences which are increasingly interdisciplinary and are not always adequately reflected in the more specialized discipline-oriented bibliographies.

And finally, for librarians who presently subscribe to the IBZ in printed format, there is another reason to give serious consideration to the new CD-ROM version: the printed volumes from 1989 to 1999 will occupy approximately 24 linear feet of shelf space in reference rooms, while the digitized data represented by those volumes will be stored on two compact discs.

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