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    Due to changing needs and technologies, the SMT Executive Board has decided to retire SMT Discuss (effective Nov. 9, 2021). Posts will be preserved for archival purposes, but new posts and replies are no longer permitted.

    Alternatives to RILM?

    I recently learned that my university's library is considering not renewing our subscription to RILM (which I guess is bundled within EBSCO, but I don't really know how that works...) after this coming academic year.  As the only full-time music theory or musicology faculty member at my school, I'm having a hard time making an argument that they should continue an institutional subscription for little old me, and the students who take my upper-level classes.  

    I use RILM very, very frequently -- it's my go-to, first stop for searching out sources for research.  I suspect I'm not alone in that!  But I wanted to reach out to the theory community at large to see if any of you could recommend viable resources that can substitute for RILM?  I've done a little searching through Google Scholar, and haven't been very productive there, but it's possible that I just haven't figured it out yet.

    I don't think of myself as an "old dog with difficult learning new tricks," but maybe there are just new tricks out there that I don't know about...

    Thanks for any help!



    PS - for those of you who saw my Aural Skills Class Size post here, please accept my apologies for two budget-related posts within a week!  

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    • 3 Comments sorted by Votes Date Added
    • Are they getting rid of EBSCO altogether? That's going to affect more people than just you.

      --Jason Yust


    • RILM is the most comprehensive tool that exists. It is provided now only via EBSCO. There is an alternative tool, MUSIC INDEX, which is itself not free. It includes some items that are missing in RILM but misses many more items that are absent from RILM.

      EBSCO is also going to launch soon, they promise, MUSIC WITH FULL TEXT in the same manner as their old and good THEATRE AND DANCE WITH FULL TEXT. Only selected items will be there in full text, and not the most scholarly ones that are already in JSTOR, but in principle many more items will be indexed there. Only as they launch it will it be known how good is that tool. 

      While RILM has been delivered by EBSCO for many years, MUSIC WITH FULL TEXT should be an original tool of EBSCO. Will they take the entire RILM database into the new tool, probably raising its cost for adding some full texts? It is not yet known.


      Searching without RILM:

      JSTOR is one option. If you have access to selected portions of JSTOR only, you still have an option to search in the entire collection even if you don't have access to the items, and this provides good results. In fact the search in JSTOR (as opposed to reading and downloading full texts) is free, 

      Searching Books.google.com + scholar.google.com provide also a rather good results. 

      Finally, for dissertations, you should search Proquest dissertations [if you have access for it, for north American dissertations] + the free ETHOS [for British dissertations].


      For the purpose of finding something on the topic you look for, you can somehow circumvent RILM. If, however, you search for comprehensive bibliography (and especially for materials in languages other than English), for example in order to make sure you really innovate in your own research, RILM remains the best tool without any good substitutes.


      Dr. Yosef Goldenberg

      Music theorist and - in this context it is important to note - head librarian

      Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance

    • Thanks, Jason and Yosef -- I really appreciate your responses.

      Jason:  As far as I can tell, they're not getting rid of EBSCO entirely.  It seems that there's some way in which librarians can pick and choose certain aspects of that bundle, though I'd be lying if I said I understood exactly how that works!  Our Dean of Libraries told me today that RILM increased their usage fees by 37% this year, and that, measured against our relatively low usage (again, it's basically just me) makes it impossible to justify keeping it as library budgets are likely getting cut yet again.

      Yosef:  This is really helpful information -- thank you!  I have basically been doing JSTOR searches recently, and will factor Music Index back into the mix.  That was always my "clean up" search, so I'm a bit sad that it will now become my go-to!

      Thanks again!