Alexandra de Luise, Art Librarian
Flushing, NY 11367
Tom Grieves, Reference Librarian/Fine Arts Bibliographer
Arizona State University Libraries
Tempe, AZ 85287-4912
Sponsors: Serials Roundtable & Reference and Information Services Section
Tom Grieves, Reference Librarian/Fine Arts Bibliographer
Arizona State University
“Five Art Related Indexes: BHA, Art Bibliographies Modern; Grove’s Dictionary of Art; AMICO Database; Periodicals Contents Index”
Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library
“Just When You Think You Understand It, It Changes: Using the Avery Index in the New World Order of Information Access”
Christine Milne, Editor
HW Wilson Company, New York
“Wilson Taming the World of Art Indexes”
Chris Mees, Editor
Design and Applied Arts Index
Burnwash, East Sussex, England
“So You Thought Youd Escape from Librarianship and Start a Journal Index: One Man’s Experience: The Design and Applied Arts Index”
Alexandra de Luise, Art Librarian from Queens College introduced the
session, "Taming the Untamable: Art-Related Indexes in a Changing
Environment." The session was co-sponsored by RISS and the Serials Roundtable. De Luise stated that art indexes are in a state of flux.
“If we sit in this room long enough, something has got to change, whether
it be an art index expanding its scope, making itself available
on the web or changing it's interface. Along with other subject areas, art-related indexes are reconsidering their role in light of technology
and user needs. Art-related indexes and art reference tools are in a state of transition,” De Luise stated. According to De Luise,
“electronic access will continue to become more pervasive in art, as it has in other fields. Evolving formats, changing vocabularies, new
searching capabilities, as well as retrospective conversion of older records, increasing user demands are changing indexes in scope and sensibility.”
De Luise said that ultimate benefits of change in art-related databases
are rising costs such as costs of the publisher, maintaining and
migrating information files from one format to another and the cost for art and art libraries budgets. She also stated that “even if we can
obtain different formats, we cannot be sure that we will have the exact same product from one format to another.” What we have, in her
opinion, is "a continuum of choices from one end point to another. It seems that with numerous and more high speed computers and better
improved access to images our older technologies and by that I mean paper and CD-ROM, are becoming less attractive.”
De Luise stated that paper and CD-ROM products are static, but electronic-access
art databases are ever-changing. “In this year alone,
we have seen an impressive breath in electronic-access art indexes. Trials of electronic databases have become common in our libraries. And
as of lately, art full-text indexes have started to address the need to include images within the text. Aggregate indexes that cover a multitude
of studies and deliver them in bunches to the user continue to proliferate," De Luise stated. The challenge for art librarians is to
differentiate on what is located where and what is full-text or citation-only, our role then becomes our job to continue to organize
these products in the coming years.
De Luise also stated that the citation methodology upon which scholars
rely on to access information is changing alongside the variable nature
of Web resources themselves. Access to these resources was a concern to De Luise. “And we have to ask ourselves where will the information
presented in these products be archived and further will it be accessible,” she asked.
The speakers for the session included two editors of art indexes and
two reference librarians who utilize art indexes at their jobs. One
speakers, Caroline De Luca, was not able to come and Tom Greives, who co-moderated the panel filled in for her.
Greives gave a basic review of five art-related indexes. He listed
the sources covered in each of the databases including indexed journals.
invited each of the representatives of each database to be present so they could correct any “factual misinformation” on his part and answer
any questions (they were given varied minutes discuss new features and to correct important omissions). He spoke about the currency of each
database, listed types of materials included in the database, etc.
De Luise then introduced Barbara Sykes-Austin. Sykes-Austin stated
that this has been a year of major changes in the Avery Index, having
converted it completely to electronic form to a database content and into a new interface. According to Sykes-Austin, this means that they
have nearly completed the entire Avery Index into electronic form. Sykes-Austin stated that included, all the old records dating back to
the 19th Century which formed the contents of the old card files, printed volumes and supplements through 1979." Sykes-Austin discussed
current and upcoming changes in the Avery Index, which included (1) the growth of the entire volume to over 400,000 analytic records in the year
2000; (2) the end of the printed volumes (the last annual printed volume was the 18th Edition); and (3) the Avery CD-ROM is being produced by the
Getty Center (hoping for a quarterly release schedule but she couldn’t provide firm dates).
Sykes-Austin stated that while the reconstruction and the prospect of
more frequent offline updates are all unquestionably good news for the
Avery Index, the infusion of this mass of old records and the termination of the printed pages that served as their annual proof
reading tool will present a number of challenges for users. Sykes-Austin demonstrated examples of the importance of date searching
and some of the inconsistencies that were likely to appear in subject and author searches results before index staff take up clean up of
records later in the year. According to Sykes-Austin, a third important change appeared occurred at the end of 1999 when the Avery Index
utilized its Eureka Search Engine. Using Eureka on the web, she demonstrated how to take advantage of certain features for more accurate
and complete search results.
Sykes-Austin also discussed some background on the history and additional
features of the Avery Index conversion, as well as new
features of images captured in the index records.
De Luise then introduced Christine Milne, Editor, Art Index (H.W. Wilson
Company, New York). Milne’s presentation was titled: “Wilson
the World of Art Indexes.”
Milne discussed the intricacies of indexing at the H. W. Wilson Co.
and the indexing of the Art Index and other bibliographical products.
stated that the Art Index is one of the first indexes to cover non-Western Art. She also mentioned the company’s hope of producing
scanned full-text images in the near future and discussed the problems associated with providing this
kind of feature.
De Luise then introduced Chris Mees, Editor, Design and Applied Arts
Index from Burnwash, East Sussex, England. Mees presentation was
titled: ”So You Thought You’d Escape from Librarianship and Start a Journal Index: One Man’s Experience: The Design and Applied Arts Index.”
Mees presented an autobiographical and candid account of the origins,
history and pre-history of the development of the Design and Applied
Arts Index (CD-ROM, soon to be released in a Web format). Mees discussed his process to develop an index devoted exclusively to
design. He also explained how journals for the index they’re selected, how his company arrived at a format for the index, including
the creation of a thesaurus and the indexes’ future evolution.
Miguel Juarez, Fine Arts & Photography Librarian
University of Arizona Library