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The Getty Research Institute (GRI) has announced an agreement with ProQuest, an information-technology firm supporting global research, that will allow ProQuest to take over the indexing of the International Bibliography of Art (IBA), better known as the Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA). The agreement will not only provide a secure future for a resource considered central to the study of art history, but will also assure its continuing development and its accessibility to researchers around the world.

ProQuest will distribute IBA content created by GRI—covering the years 2008 through 2009—and build on it by adding new index records going forward. ProQuest will retain the editorial policies that made IBA a trusted and frequently consulted source in the field, continuing to provide full abstracts and subject indexing for its wide international and multilingual range of periodicals, monographs, and catalogues. Over time, ProQuest intends to expand coverage of art from Asia, Latin America, and Africa, in response to requests from art librarians and researchers. Since its founding in 1972, the bibliography has mostly covered European and American art from late antiquity to the present.

ProQuest, which operates expansive digital archives of newspapers, dissertations, and journals, also publishes specialist databases in the arts, such as ARTbibliographies Modern, Design and Applied Arts Index, and the International Index to Music Periodicals. Further, BHA, discontinued at the end of 2007, has long been available to researchers through ProQuest on the CSA Illumina platform. Users will welcome IBA with its expanded coverage and similar format, and ProQuest will enable IBA to be cross-searched with these other major bibliographies and complementary full-text resources.

As part of the ProQuest family, IBA will benefit from ProQuest’s acclaimed editorial operations, with its emphasis on subject expertise and manual indexing for specialist arts and humanities resources. ProQuest will make existing IBA content available immediately, and at the same time bring the database up to date—no additions have been made to it since December 2009—and continuing to add new records. IBA will migrate to ProQuest’s all-new platform in early 2011.

GRI has supported bibliographical services for art history since 1981, when it took over the International Repertory of the Literature of Art (RILA), which was then housed at the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute after many years. Beginning in 1985, GRI partnered with the French Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), which produced the Répertoire d’Art et d’Archéologie (RAA), a publication similar to RILA. RILA and RAA merged to become BHA, which appeared first in 1991, published by CNRS’s database production and distribution arm, the Institut de l’Information Scientifique et Technique (INIST).

BHA was produced jointly by GRI and INIST until 2008. Thereafter, GRI continued producing records under the new name of IBA before budgetary constraints led to the difficult decision to discontinue its support earlier this year. At this time, GRI made IBA (as well as the historical data in BHA and RILA) freely available on its website, so the historical data would continue to aid researchers. Thomas Gaehtgens, GRI director, confirms that “we will continue to make the historical BHA and RILA data available on the website free of charge to researchers who access it.”

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Representatives from CAA participated in a pair of meetings on “The Future of Art Bibliography in the 21st Century,” held in April 2010 at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Organized by the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, with a grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation, two-day event invited participants to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA), and to develop ideas for an art bibliography that moves beyond current models.

Christopher Howard, CAA managing editor, has written a report on the April meetings, and the Getty has published a brief summary.

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Lee Rosenbaum, an arts journalist, has brought the recent controversy over the Getty Research Institute’s plans for the Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA) to a wider audience in today’s Wall Street Journal. The Getty had announced earlier this month that it was placing the formerly subscription-based service online for free use to scholars worldwide. It will, however, cease updating the resource, which has been in operation since 1972.

In her piece, Rosenbaum talks to Paul B. Jaskot, an art historian at DePaul University and president of the CAA Board of Directors, among other key scholars and librarians in the field. She also updates her ArtsJournal blog with information and quotes that did not make it into the published piece.

A Getty task force will convene a meeting today at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and CAA representatives will be present. Look for a summary of the meeting later this week.

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The Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles, California, has received a grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation to convene an international task force of art librarians, scholars, and information specialists from Europe and the United States to discuss the future of art bibliography. Recent events, including discussions of art-library closures, scant funding resources for ongoing support of art libraries and projects internationally, and the cessation of the Getty’s support for the continuation of the Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA) provide the catalyst to review current practices, take stock of changes, and seriously consider developing more sustainable and collaborative ways of supporting the bibliography of art history in the future.

The organizers of the task force—Kathleen Salomon of the Getty Research Institute; Rüdiger Hoyer from the Zentralinstitut für Kunstgeschichte, Munich; and Jan Simane of the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz and chair of the Art Libraries Section of International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)—invite the art-historical community to participate in a discussion to be held on Tuesday, April 20, 2010, in New York. The meeting will take place 1:00–5:30 PM at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (courtesy of Kenneth Soehner). Two panels presenting “thoughts from the field” will be followed by an open discussion.

The issues that come forward in the meeting will help lay the groundwork for the subsequent meeting of the smaller task force that will address what is and is not feasible for art bibliography in the future. The outcomes of the meeting and next steps will be posted and shared with the wider art-historical community.

Seating for the meeting is limited and must be reserved ahead of time: please RSVP to Diane Lazar by April 12. If you are unable to attend, there will be a recap and discussion session at the annual conference of the Art Libraries Society of North America in Boston, Massachusetts, on Sunday, April 25, 2:30–3:30 PM, as well as at the Art Libraries Section meeting of IFLA‘s general conference and assembly, to be held in August in Gothenburg, Sweden.

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The J. Paul Getty Trust released a statement this morning that tells us “as of April 1, 2010, the Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA) will be available free of charge on the Getty website.” The move, which comes a day after the important research database was to be shut down permanently, is a welcomed one. While free access to BHA for individuals and institutions is good for everyone especially those “institutions in developing countries and independent scholars worldwide” who were unable to afford a subscription. The Getty, however, has remained silent about further updates to the database, which ceased last year. [UPDATE: the Getty will not be adding new records to the database but hopes another organization will do so.]

From the Getty press release:

Since ending its collaboration with the Institut de l’Information Scientifique et Technique (INIST)–CNRS in December 2007, the Getty has been searching for partners to continue the production and distribution of BHA. This process has been complicated, and with no suitable arrangement immediately available, the Getty decided to act on its commitment to the scholarly community by providing access to BHA directly from its own Web site.

The relaunched BHA includes the International Bibliography of Art (IBA), covering the years 2008 and part of 2009, as well as the Répertoire de la litterature de l’art (RILA), a predecessor of BHA that was maintained by CAA for many years. RILA records from 1975 to 1989 will be online by May 1, 2010.

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CAA learned last week, through the Art History Newsletter, that the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles is withdrawing the Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA) from distribution on March 31, 2010. With the closing, hundreds of thousands of records and abstracts in the database will soon be unavailable to scholars worldwide—indefinitely.

Subscribers to BHA, which include many academic libraries and research institutions, received notice about the shutdown from the Getty earlier this month. While there are some alternatives—among them Art Index, Avery Index, and ARTbibliographies Modern—the loss of this invaluable resource is immense and will be deeply felt throughout the international art-history community. Indeed, BHA’s “coverage has not been duplicated in any single database available to us,” writes Jill E. Luedke, a librarian and art-subject specialist at Temple University.

Since June CAA has made numerous communiqués by phone and email to the Getty regarding the demise of BHA, receiving only one inconclusive response. From what CAA can gather from other sources, the closure appears to be strictly a budgetary decision. The Getty attempted to find an organization that would purchase the database and software program that they had developed, but found none. CAA was not privy to the negotiations to find a buyer.

As the world’s most comprehensive bibliographic database of publications in art history, BHA covers the visual arts in Europe and America from late antiquity to the present. Copublished with the Institut de l’Information Scientifique et Technique in France, BHA originated in part as the International Repertory of the Literature of Art (RILA), created in 1972 under the auspices of CAA and supported by grants from public endowments and private foundations. The Getty’s bibliography includes RILA records from 1972 to 1989 and those from the Repertory of Art and Archaeology (RAA) from 1973 to 1989, and had been growing ever since.

Michael Rinehart, formerly editor in chief of RILA and BHA for nearly thirty years, wrote in 2009: “It is highly unlikely that any commercial vendor will want to maintain it. It is equally clear that the Getty intends to end BHA with or without a plan for its continuation…. Whatever the original understanding between the CAA and the Getty may have been, it is self-evident that the CAA entrusted RILA to the Getty in the expectation that it would continue.”

Art historians and researchers were first alerted to the possible closure in June 2009, and CAA published a response at that time. The Getty released a statement in the same month, but negotiations with other organizations, as noted above, failed to produce a solution to keep BHA alive.

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The Getty Research Institute just published a statement on its website regarding the future of the Bibliography on the History of Art (BHA, also known as the International Bibliography of Art, or IBA). The statement appears in full below:

In response to current economic conditions, the J. Paul Getty Trust recently announced it will significantly reduce its 2010 fiscal year budget. This will have an impact on all of the Getty’s operations, including the Getty Research Institute (GRI). Since news of the Getty’s budget reduction became public, including information about the Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA), we have received some inquiries about the BHA’s future. We thought it would be helpful to review the history of the Getty’s involvement with the BHA, the current status of the database, and our expectations for its future.

From 1990, when the International Repertory of the Literature of Art (RILA) and the Répertoire d’Art et d’Archéologie (RAA) came together to form BHA, it was a joint project between the Getty and the major database producer, the Institut de l’Information Scientifique et Technique-CNRS. At the end of 2007, this collaboration ceased and BHA formally came to an end. Since January 2008, the GRI has continued production of the database on its own, under the name of the International Bibliography of Art (IBA), and over the last sixteen months, the GRI has made an effort to forge collaborative partnerships on the IBA both nationally and internationally.

While there is interest in seeing the database continue, there have been no formal partnership commitments and no guarantees of outside funding for the project. Unfortunately, with the GRI facing severe budget challenges and without strong and committed partners to share the work, it has become impossible for the Getty to maintain the IBA on its own. Nevertheless, the GRI continues to be interested in seeing the IBA continue its service to the art historical field.

In the near term, the IBA will continue its work, and the first of three updates to the database will be on June 30, 2009. This update will include new data (IBA), and all of the past data of BHA and RILA. It will not contain RAA. This June 30 update will also include the updates from December 31, 2008 and March 31, 2009, which were delayed for technical reasons. All subscribers will also receive scheduled updates on September 30, and December 31, 2009.

Beginning January 1, 2010, the Getty will no longer support the ongoing IBA. We are hopeful that by this time the IBA will be transferred to an organization that can provide continuing support for this valuable resource. Our goal is to move the BHA/IBA to an organization that will provide a transfer in service smooth enough that subscribers may not even notice. We are hopeful that the same distributors will be used after January 1, 2010, and that updates will continue in a regular way.

We will keep the art historical community informed as this process develops. At this time, we would like to express our gratitude to the art reference librarians, art historians, and graduate students whose support has sustained RILA/BHA/IBA for over 29 years. We look forward to your continued support during this period of transition.

Last week CAA published a short statement addressing its concerns about this invaluable database for academic research in the visual arts.

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Like many of our art colleagues and allied academic and cultural institutions in the field, the College Art Association is deeply concerned about the status of the Bibliography of the History of Art (BHA). CAA continues to communicate with the Getty Research Institute (copublisher of the BHA, along with the French Institut de l’Information Scientifique et Technique du Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique) about the future of the BHA and how this vital bibliographic resource can be maintained. We will do what we can as necessary to secure its longevity once we have had our inquiries answered by the Getty.

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