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August 2012 Front Page

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Project Runeberg's front page section for August 2012:

Visitor statistics for periodicals

Recently, we have been digitizing old volumes of periodicals, including journals, yearbooks, biographic dictionarires, calendars, and directories. Since each volume, each year, is a book of 200 to 1200 pages, their popularity can be compared against each other, to find which titles and which years attract more viewers. This could be useful as a guide for what to digitize next. What are our readers looking for?

The following top list is based on our web server access log over 14 days, filtering out accesses from search engine robots/crawlers. This is not an entirely scientific survey, but a rough indication.
Rank Page
Volume URL
1. 5995 adelskal/1923
2. 4014 svindkal/1947
3. 3460 statskal/1963
4. 3287 vemardet/1993
5. 2955 statskal/1984
6. 2681 statskal/1955
7. 2640 statskal/1925
8. 2521 karlebo/1936
9. 2373 vemardet/1969
10. 2105 hvemerhvem/1930
11. 2099 hvemerhvem/1948
12. 2043 hvemerhvem/1973
Rank Page
Volume URL
13. 1863 rikskal/1908
14. 1758 vemardet/1985
15. 1569 vemardet/1957
16. 1384 vemardet/1925
17. 1203 statskal/1881
18. 1161 vemardet/1977
19. 1061 vemardet/1943
20. 926 hvemerhvem/1912
21. 853 vemardet/1933
22. 836 blaabog/1910
23. 820 sundtidn/1888
24. 647 svlartid/1933
Rank Page
Volume URL
25. 646 vemardet/1963
26. 635 urf/1891
27. 562 pht/1903
28. 555 jernkont/1910
29. 497 pht/1899
30. 461 nfm/1938
31. 445 tiden/1911
32. 427 tiden/1912
33. 383 biblblad/1940
34. 376 svlartid/1893
35. 365 svlartid/1924
36. 364 svlartid/1930

Legend: adelskal = Directory of Swedish nobility; biblblad = Biblioteksbladet, Swedish library journal; blaabog = Danish biographic dictionary; hvemerhvem = Norwegian biographic dictionary; jernkont = Jernkontorets annaler, journal of Swedish iron and steel industry; karlebo = A mechanical engineer's handbook; nfm = Nordisk familjeboks månadskrönika, monthly supplements to a Swedish encyclopedia; pht = Personhistorisk tidskrift, Swedish journal of genealogy; rikskal = Directory of Swedish government officials; statskal = Directory of Swedish government officials; sundtidn = Sundsvalls Tidning, a Swedish daily newspaper; svindkal = Directory of Swedish industry; svlartid = Swedish teachers' journal; tiden = Tiden, Swedish social-democratic journal; urf = Under röd flagg, a Swedish socialistic journal; vemardet = Swedish biographic dictionary.

Conclusion: For those curious about whether the teacher's journal is more or less popular than the library journal, this must be a revelation that directories are the most popular by far. The first journal volume in this list ranks as number 24. If the Internet is a library, then the reference shelf (including directories, calendars, dictionaries, and encyclopedias, such as Wikipedia) will be the most useful part of it.

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Full speed in July

The very rainy summer in Sweden has enabled Project Runeberg to continue at almost full speed, growing by 20,000 scanned pages during July. We now have more than 900,000 pages in all, corresponding to 45 linear metres of shelving.

Indexing articles

Suddenly, on page 46, issue 2, 1940, of Biblioteksbladet, the Swedish library journal, there is an article announcing that printed library catalog cards can be ordered for articles found in Swedish journals: "Tryckta katalogkort å tidskriftsuppsatser". The Swedish public library association (Sveriges allmänna biblioteksförening) organized this effort to index and cross-reference articles in the 32 most important Swedish journals, including their own Biblioteksbladet. At least in theory, there must be a printed catalog card for this article that announces that these cards are now available.

Most library catalogs contain one database record, corresponding to one paper card, for each book. While this works fine for novels and monographs, it's a poor solution for collections of essays, short stories, poems; and even more so for anthologies, readers, and journals, where the individual articles (or chapters or poems) are the important items that a reader would search for. In journals, each article might also have different authors and topic classification. The explanation is of course that a database of all articles can be ten to a hundred times larger than a database of all books. To compile such a register is a much more ambitious endeavor. When it was done, it was much more spotty than the full coverage normally expected of library catalogs or national bibliographies. The fact that only 32 journals were indexed, and starting only in 1940, are signs of this spottiness.

But this was the 1940s, and today everything is much better organized, right? Not quite, unfortunately.

After article indexing, the next logical step, as computers and networks develop, would be full text searching. But it was only in 2012 that Project Runeberg, this volunteer initiative, scanned year 1940 of Biblioteksbladet, making full text searching possible. Nobody had done this before: neither the national institutions, nor the owner the Swedish library association. The fact is that a search for "tryckta katalogkort", the title of this article, in the Swedish national library catalog Libris yields only two hits: for two other articles in Biblioteksbladet, one by Knut Tynell in 1917 and one by Jonas Samzelius in 1922, but not the article in 1940. Even though a printed catalog card was offered in 1940, no corresponding database record exists today.

As part of our digitization, we compile a simple table of contents, or list of articles. This is not a full library catalog record, but not far from it. Our help page on indexing (in Swedish) and the 1999 essay on Project Runeberg's Electronic Facsimile Editions of Nordic Literature describe the format of the Articles.lst file that we maintain for each scanned volume. If we could download existing library records for each article of a journal, this would be a great help. Unfortunately, even though the search above returned two articles from 1917 and 1922, we can't trust Libris to contain records for all articles from these years.

Even though early examples of article indexing across journals can be found in the 19th century, it was only in the first half of the 20th century that lasting projects started in the Scandinavian countries.

The development in Sweden has been documented in some books by Jan-Eric Malmquist: Tidskriftens innehåll : om artikelregistrering och artikelsökning (1987), Tidskriftiana : en skrift om tidskrifter (1990), and "Förstudien" : om behovet av en ny svensk periodicabibliografi (1991). Such rare documentation is written for a purpose. Jan-Eric is the founder of Artikelsök, a Swedish commercial online article database, operated by BTJ since 1984, and was investigating its possible extension into a national bibliography with government funding. This never came about, Artikelsök is still a commercial offering from BTJ, but the attempt left this documentation.

In 1915, Dansk tidsskrift index was founded, indexing articles in 80 Danish journals. The coverage increased to 300 journals in 1929 and 500 journals in 1978. In 1940, Avis kronik index was added, indexing articles in 25 Danish newspapers. The two merged in 1979 to form Dansk artikelindeks. Book reviews were not included, but a separate Dansk anmeldelsesindeks was added in 1979. All of these are part of the Danish national bibliography. In 1994, the printed indexes were discontinued and databases introduced. In the following decade, all databases have been made available in the common portal bibliotek.dk, where all articles back to 1915 can be searched.

In 1918, librarian Wilhelm P. Sommerfeldt founded Norsk tidsskriftindex, indexing articles in Norwegian journals, an effort that lasted until 1965. There is a gap in indexing for 1966-1979, before Norske tidsskriftsartikler (Nota) was started in 1980. In 1988, its name changed to Norart. It covers articles in more than 400 Norwegian journals. Even though Norart is part of the Norwegian national bibliography, operated by the national library, it used to be a subscription database costing NOK 1000 per year for individual customers. This changed in January 2006, when the fee was removed and Norart web search was provided free to all. The older index for 1918-1965 has not been digitized.

In its early decades, the Swedish library journal contained many articles discussing indexing, but it was only in 1940 (as mentioned above) that an effort was started. It was a collaboration, involving librarians at several public libraries, initially six of them, coordinated by the sales office of the library association (Bibliotekens försäljningscentral; later Bibliotekstjänst) in Örebro. The resulting catalog cards were printed on reseda green cardboard. The fee for an annual subscription was SEK 30 for an estimated 400 cards. Initially, 51 subscribers signed up, of which 42 were public libraries, the other 9 being various schools.

The effort lasted until 1951, when the cards were abandoned. The cards for the first five years have been compiled into a bound volume Svenska tidskriftsartiklar 1940-1945 (1985) by librarian Annika Lange.

In 1952, Svensk tidskriftsindex was introduced, being a printed volume per year, rather than separate catalog cards. While somewhat less convenient for the readers, it saved the librarians all the work of sorting the cards into the existing catalog drawers.

In 1984, Bibliotekstjänst started to offer an online database, Artikelsök, covering articles since 1979, to subscribing libraries. This is the state still today. The articles before 1979 are only indexed in the printed volumes.

Clearly, the three Scandinavian countries have chosen different paths. Most citizens will never notice, since they only look for articles in their own language, but there is still a lesson to learn. Denmark and Norway are able to provide the index free of charge, while Sweden relies on a commercial offering, only available through subscribing libraries. Sweden and Norway only provide online indexes for articles from the 1980s or more recent, while Denmark goes back to 1915 for journals and 1945 for newspapers.

For Project Runeberg, this opens a field of activity in digitizing the pre-1980 printed indexes for Sweden and Norway. Indexes are catalogs, not covered by full copyright, but only 15 years of catalog protection. Even though the indexes for 1940-1978 can be digitized, the articles and journals for these years are still under copyright. For most of the Swedish pre-1940 journals that Project Runeberg has digitized, no article indexes have ever been compiled, except for a few individual articles that might have been cataloged in Libris.

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