Knoche, Michael, and Reinhard Tgahrt, eds. Retrospektive Erschließung von Zeitschriften und Zeitungen: Beiträge des Weimarer Kolloquiums, Herzogin-Anna-Amalia-Bibliothek, 25. bis 27. September 1996. Informationsmittel für Bibliotheken: Beiheft, 4. Berlin: Deutsches Bibliotheksinstitut, 1997. 134 p. ISBN 3-87068-544-1.
The essays collected in this volume represent only a sample of the presentations and discussions of a 1996 colloquium on journal and newspaper content indexing and abstracting projects in Germany and Austria. Sensing the need for the exchange of experiences among those who were working on similar projects, conference participants met to discuss the wider implications of their work. This volume not only includes practical reports on specific abstracting and indexing projects, but also includes several theoretical essays which address the value of such projects to the wider scholarly community, and how these projects affect scholarship.
The volume begins with two essays which provide a theoretical background for the more descriptive essays which follow. Werner Bies discusses the way in which journal content bibliographies both respond to and reflect the scholarly environment in which they are produced. He also points out that the production of content indexes and bibliographies in and of itself may provide knowledge of journal content, but does nothing to improve scholars' access to the journals themselves. As an example he cites one report which reveals that the editors of an index for the Teutscher Merkur needed to visit 60 different libraries, since no one repository contained a complete run of the journal. The second essay by Hans-Albrecht Koch discusses journal content indexes from the perspective of the user, and articulates several "desiderata," not the least of which is that the production of journal content indexes should simultaneously result in the easier availability of the journal. The volume's remaining essays are devoted to discussion of specific indexing and abstracting projects at various libraries and research centers in the Federal Republic of Germany and Austria.
A common theme of the conference reports was the desire that journal indexing and abstracting projects also result in the reprinting, microfilming or digitization of the journal itself. With the awareness of the value of serendipitous reading and the attractiveness of electronic search capabilities, a consensus emerged that journals ideally should be available both digitally and in "analog" reprints or microfilms. Conference participants pointed out that the availability of journal content indexes inevitably led to increased scholarly interest in the indexed journals. Since most of the projects described during the conference involved literary or cultural journals and newspapers, the underlying assumption-perhaps legitimately-appears to be that the indexes will be of most interest to scholars from the social sciences and humanities. The volume concludes with Klaus Schreiber's discussion of journal content indexes and projects in other countries and academic fields. He provides a brief discussion of selected "national" and discipline-specific bibliographies for music and the sciences.
In order to assure timely publication of the proceedings, the editors decided not to publish the colloquium's closing discussion session in this volume. While understandable from a pragmatic standpoint, the reader misses a summarizing discussion of the individual reports. The editors address this somewhat by identifying the common themes in their introductory essay. Despite the numerous essays which describe the specifics of individual projects, and the general underlying assumption of the library administrative and funding structures of Europe, American librarians can still learn much from the essays collected here. Most if not all readers certainly will be able to identify with those themes which sadly appear to be universal: the lack of financial and staffing resources.