Meertens Instituut

The ICOS Internet Bibliography


The ICOS Internet Bibliography
A progress report
Pisa, August 2005

Doreen Gerritzen & Karina van Dalen

One of the presentations about the ICOS activities of the last few year concerns an ICOS Internet Bibliography - in other words an onomastic bibliography on the Internet. We would like to present some of the results so far. But first we would like to say a few things about the history of the project.

ONOMA used to be a bibliographical and information bulletin. It contained annual onomastic bibliographies organized by linguistic area, besides articles and communications. After the reorganization of the Committee as an International Council of Onomastic Sciences at the Trier Congress in 1993, the role of ONOMA also changed: it ceased being a Bibliographical and Information Bulletin, and became a Journal or Yearbook. In 1997, the Editorial Board proposed that volumes of ONOMA should have a specific theme. This policy was ratified by the Board of Directors in 1998.

The fact that ONOMA has changed into a journal with specific themes also meant the end of the bibliographical information in ONOMA. The lack of bibliographical information about name studies was more and more seen as a problem. Therefore plans were made for some kind of solution. In 1999 board member Volker Kohlheim started gathering a group of bibliographical correspondents. At the same time Botolv Helleland worked out the structure of a future bibliography. 

In 2002, at the conference in Uppsala, a new ICOS Board was installed. At the same time, Willy van Langendonck resigned as editor-in-chief of ONOMA and Doreen Gerritzen was asked to become the new editor-in-chief. As a consequence the work of Volker Kohlheim and Botolv Helleland was handed over to her. This implied that we had a list of bibliographical correspondents and information about the structure of the bibliography. At that time there were no concrete plans for the bibliography available, in other words: there was no project description.

In March 2003 the ICOS board had a meeting in Regensburg. At that meeting the ICOS board decided to form an ICOS Bibliography Group. In October 2003 this Group had its first meeting in Amsterdam. Most members are also members of the present ICOS board, and some members were asked to join the Group because of their expertise, namely Leendert Brouwer (Meertens Instituut, Amsterdam), who works on an onomastic database for the Netherlands, Enzo Caffarelli, who is the editor-in-chief of the journal Rivista Onomastica Italiana, and Katharina Leibring (SOFI, Uppsala) an onomastician but also a trained university librarian.

The goal of the ICOS Bibliography Group is the creation of an onomastic bibliography which is accessible on the Internet. If a database is available on the Internet there is free access from every computer with access to the Internet, but also the possibility of submitting material from every such computer. So our idea is that the database entries will be supplied mainly by a group of bibliographical correspondents, but not only by this group: also every individual should be able to put titles in the database. Of course there will always be an editorial check.

There are a few problems to be solved before we have this database operational. First of all we had to design a structure for the bibliographical items. And to facilitate the search possibilities we had to elaborate a key word system (as mentioned before there had been some work done in this respect already). Less difficult, but also important, was the devolopment of a procedure for creating entries.

Structure of the items

All items contain the following fields:

    Author
    Medium of publication
    Type of publication
    Language publication is written in

For each type of publication the deeper structure is different. We have defined five different publication types:

    Monograph, dictionary, bibliography, thesis
    Proceedings, Festschrift etc.
    Paper, article, chapter
    Review
    Grey literature (unpublished reports, memos etc.)

The subdivision is based on the bibliographical fields needed to appropriately describe the publications. Some fields must be filled in, for others this is only recommended. The system will not accept a submission when not all obligatory fields have been filled in.

It would be profitable for the structure to optimally make use of the possibility of adding extra information. A translation of the title of the publication could be useful information. There is a field in which the internet address, if available, can be entered with a browse button. Summaries can be added. Additional remarks can be made. In this way, the Internet Bibliography could become a useful tool for exchanging and sharing information.

The Bibliography might also become the place to digitally publish previously unpublished material, amongst other things grey literature. Authors could place these texts on their own website and refer to this from the ICOS Internet Bibliography. But we can also think of the possibility to have authors submit their text to the Bibliography, using this as the medium for publication and for archiving.


The ICOS Bibliography Group spent most of its time working on a key word system. After a long discussion we decided to have four main sections:
1. General
2. Name categories
3. Names in literature, films etc.
4. Deonomastics

Of course all of these categories are elaborated, the general section as follows:
1.1 History of onomastics
1.2 Name theory
1.3 Linguistic aspects
1.4 Methodology
1.5 Onomastics teaching
1.6 Terminology
1.7 Other (surveys, reports etc.)

There is no further specification of these subsections. In the case of the name categories this is different of course. First we made these subsections:
2.1 Place-names (in the broadest sense) / toponymy
2.2 Personal names / anthroponymy
2.3 Other names

After that these three subsections were elaborated. For place-names:
2.1.0 General: toponomastics, methodology and linguistics
2.1.1 Names within definable areas
2.1.2 Names of natural phenomena
2.1.3 Names of cultural phenomena

These subsections are also elaborated, but we will not present this here. The elaboration of the place-names section was done by Richard Coates. 

The personal names section is divided into
2.2.0 General: history, methodology and linguistics
2.2.1 Categories of personal names

These two subsections are of course also elaborated, but this will not be presented here. The work on the personal names section was done by Leendert Brouwer.

There is a strinking difference between the subsections of place-names and personal names: literature about place-names can be organised by the objects they denote, whilst with personal names you distinguish between categories like first names, family names, nicknames etc. 

The third subsection in the section name categories is called 'Other names' and Katharina Leibring made the following subsections:

2.3.1 Area studies
2.3.2 Names of non-human (living) beings
2.3.3 Names of artefacts
2.3.4 Names of immaterial creations
2.3.5 Names of works of art
2.3.6 Product names and brand-names
2.3.7 Other other names (e.g. names of websites)

There is no further elaboration of these subsections.

The third main section is names in literature, films, etc. Karina van Dalen made the following subsections (there is no further elaboration):

3.1 Theory
3.2 Methods and techniques
3.3 Textlinguistics
3.4 Personal names
3.5 Place names
3.6 Other names
3.7 All names in a text / film, etc.

The fourth and last section is 'Deonomastics' which is devided into
4.1 Ethnonyms
4.2 Names of languages (glottonyms)
4.3 Other (metaphors, metonymics, suffixed, etc.)

These subsections were suggested by Enzo Caffarelli. There is no further elaboration of these subsections.

We would like to stress that this key word system is the general system. Besides it, it is always possible to use free key words. And of course this use of free key words can be a method of improving the general key word system. The editors could look at the actual use of free key words and conclude that changes in the general key word system are necessary.

Although this key word system is the result of a long discussion we are quite sure that many of you have suggestions for changes. Probably some of them are contradictory or specific to a certain country, a certain language or a certain period. A key word system cannot be perfect for everybody. We had to be pragmatic and look for practical solutions. However, if it turns out that some details in the key word system are not workable, we will make the 
the necessary adjustments.

In most cases the key word system will function as a background system. However, if someone is looking, for example, for recent publications about first names, it is relevant to know that this category is part of the section personal names. Not all publications written about first names are marked as such - they may form part of a publication about personal names. So the key word system will help the user to find more relevant titles - or, the other way around - to specify the request in order to find fewer titles. And of course the key word system will also be helpful for the user who submits titles to the database. 

After the key word system was established, we discussed the procedure for creating entries. When data has been submitted, the editors - members of the ICOS Bibliography Group but also external experts - will check the information. If necessary corrections will be made (and these corrections can be discussed with the submitter). After this check the information is available online. So it is not an anarchic system, all submissions will be checked. When the prototype has been tested, the procedure for creating entries will be refined.


Development of the prototype

The prototype of the ICOS Internet Bibliography will be developed at the Huygens Instituut (an institute of the Netherlands Royal Academy of Arts and Sciences) under the supervision of Karina van Dalen. The Huygens Institute is currently working on the development of a new type of bibliography, which largely overlaps with what the Bibliography Group wants for ICOS. Karina van Dalen is responsible for the conversion of the large bibliographical database on Dutch Linguistics and Literary Studies (BNTL) to a website that includes all advantages of the digital era for both users as bibliographers.

The most important advantages from the point of view of the users are:

    Free and easy access
    Bibliographical items can be linked to the full text of the publications
    Users can search full text and bibliographical items separately or at the same time
    Search results can present much more information than the traditional bibliographical description and key words alone
    Users can rely on the site to present references to those electronic publications that are relevant for the research area

The most important advantages from the point of view of the bibliographers are:

    Bibliographers can add items from different locations
    It will be much easier to ask others to add missing information to the bibliography
    It will be possible to make use of (semi-)automatic tools to automatically classify items or to have relevant key words suggested
    Webcrawlers can help to systematically look for and find relevant (new) publications on the Internet

Furthermore, this sort of web-bibliographical tool could be useful for researchers and also for publishers to let colleagues in the research discipline know about their new publications. They would also have the chance to provide their own work with the key words they would prefer, to make sure that their intended readers will actually find their publication and use it. Editors of journals could use the system in the same way, adding the digital versions of their journals for archiving. New publications could be found much quicker in this way by the intended readers.

This project started in August 2005 and has to be finished in July 2007. The ICOS Internet Bibliography will be able to help in testing this new bibliographical tool. That is why it is relevant for the Huygens Institute to help the ICOS bibliography to get started. At the end of 2006 the prototype should be up and running. We will then research the possiblities of downloading existing bibliographical databases into the ICOS Internet Bibliography and look for funding to digitize the older bibliographical reports from ONOMA to add these to the new digital bibliography.

We hope to be able to present the final results at the next ICOS Congress in 2008. In the meantime we will keep you informed about the developments through the ICOS website. If you want to contribute to the ICOS Bibliography in one way or another, please let us know.

We are looking forward to your questions and remarks; we may call on other members of the ICOS Bibliography Group for help with answering them.



doreen.gerritzen@meertens.knaw.nl
karina.van.dalen@huygensinstituut.knaw.nl