Texas Periodicals Index

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Texas Periodicals Index Project

The Reference Round Table turned its attention to the indexing of Texas periodicals in the early 1970's. The publication of Texas '70 (Austin: Texas Reader Service, 1971), edited by Katherine McMurrey, was greeted with enthusiasm by reference librarians and it was felt at the time that Texas finally had a resource for identifying articles in many Texas magazines which were not covered by the standard general indexing services. The index floundered on economic grounds: sales were inadequate to sustain the annual publication.

Although work was begun on Texas '71 and Texas '72, the compilations were at a standstill by 1974. At the 28 March 1974 RRT business meeting, a motion passed to donate $800 to Texas Reader Service to support the publication of Texas '71 and Texas '72. A letter formally offering the financial assistance was sent to Katherine McMurrey at the Texas Reader Service 1 April 1975.

At the 3 April 1975 RRT business meeting, Dr. Katherine McMurrey spoke about the possible publication of a Texas index to periodicals in late 1975. Once again, a motion to support the publication with a donation of $800 from the Reference Round Table was presented and passed.

At the 9 April 1976 RRT business meeting, Chair Lois Bebout reported that Katherine McMurrey and Brenda Olds had declined the offer of assistance because the publication had not proved self-sustaining and financially feasible. With the cessation of any attempt to continue Texas '70, the Reference Round Table Planning Committee included a proposal in its report that RRT consider picking up the publication of an index to Texas periodicals as a project. Linda Samuels, Chair of the Planning Committee, presented a motion to undertake the "Index to Texas Periodicals" project and to appoint a committee to plan the project, to coordinate indexing, and to work out a feasible means of publication. The motion passed. Persons interested in serving on the committee were solicited afterward.

An article "Index of Texas Periodicals" in the September 1976 Added Entries, Newsletter of the Texas Library Association (v. 2, no. 1, p. [4]) announced that the Reference Round Table was planning to index selected Texas periodicals which were not indexed in other sources. The initial step was to be identifying existing local indexing projects. Volunteers to assist with indexing one or two periodicals were solicited. Also requested were suggestions of titles to include. Selection of titles would be based on the need expressed by committee members and any other suggestions by interested librarians.

Linda Samuels was appointed to chair the new Periodicals Indexing Committee. At the 20 September 1976 RRT Executive Board meeting, Linda Samuels reported that the committee would be asked to generate a list of titles to be indexed and to determine the thesaurus of indexing terms to be used. A Subcommittee to Identify Retrospective and Current Texas Periodicals Indexing Projects would both identify existing Texas periodical indexing projects and determine any interest by them in cooperating with the Reference Round Table. Lois Bebout had appointed Ann Graves (Texas State Library) 18 June 1976 to chair this subcommittee.

The subcommittee distributed a questionnaire to libraries throughout the state in October 1976. The questionnaire asked for information about local indexing being done by libraries: which periodicals were being indexed, the time period covered, the availability of the information to other libraries, and the process being used. It also asked if the library would be interested and able to participate in a future indexing project and it requested a list of Texas periodicals it would like to have included in a future index.

On 15 April 1977, Linda Samuels reported on the activities and findings of the Texas Periodical Indexing Committee. Through the subcommittee survey, twenty-eight titles had been identified for indexing, of which six or seven were already being indexed in some manner. The titles were ranked by number of times they were suggested. Existing files of retrospective indexing were identified which possibly could serve as a basis for indexing of earlier years (particularly 1971-1974) or could be merged into a combined index of a few key titles. Twenty-four individuals volunteered to be indexers and an additional fourteen libraries indicated an interest in assisting. Eight other libraries indicated a possible interest in assisting.

Samuels explained that an initial effort at indexing would be limited to approximately twenty titles. Consistency of coverage was identified as a major problem to be faced with a joint indexing project. Use of the 1975-1976 Readers Guide as authority for indexing terms was expected to alleviate some of the consistency problems. She indicated readiness to pair titles with indexers to prepare an initial volume. Plans were to produce a biennial index beginning with 1975-1976 (concurrently indexing for 1977) if enough indexers were found. A due date of 1 October 1977 was suggested for the 1975-1976 material, which would make it possible to have the first index ready by the 1978 RRT meeting. She recommended that RRT membership be consulted about whether or not to index titles which were already indexed in other sources: should all of the most needed titles be included in a single publication. The prime concern was the availability of these other resources in most Texas libraries.

The minutes of the RRT meeting of 22 July 1977 mention only that the RRT Chair would name a committee to index Texas periodicals, although no record of this having been done exists in RRT files. A ballot on project priorities and bylaws changes was sent to RRT members October 1977. Results of the survey were reported 11 January 1978. One hundred eighteen survey responses were tabulated. An additional twenty-eight responses were incomplete and not tabulated. Results of the project priorities opinion poll placed "Continue Texas 70 (index to Texas periodicals)" a close second in the list of ten projects. The top project was "Compile list of unique reference capacities of Tx libraries". Thirty total points and .25 average points separated the two projects. The survey results were discussed at the 29 July 1978 RRT Executive Board meeting and a continuation of the "Texas 70 List" was agreed to be the top priority for RRT. Despite all the work already completed toward an indexing project for Texas periodicals, nothing was accomplished from the prior planning.

At the 27 July 1979 RRT Executive Board meeting, Chair Norma Reger announced that Ann Graves had agreed to head a project (as a subcommittee of the RRT Bibliographic Committee chaired by John Hepner) to evaluate the feasibility of RRT sponsorship of a Texas periodicals index. At the 17 April 1980 RRT business meeting, she reported her progress. The project included a survey of other states which had such an index. The subcommittee planned to develop a working profile of the index, to draft a tentative list of titles to be included, to estimate costs, and to ascertain sources of funding before presenting a report at the next annual meeting. She identified the two key questions being addressed: whether or not it is possible to produce an index useful to a broad range of librarians and whether or not such an index can be produced at a cost most libraries can afford. John Hepner asked for volunteers to serve as indexers for a trial run of a Texas periodicals index. As part of a questionnaire to be distributed at the 1980 RRT program meeting, John Hepner included questions about whether reference librarians would want their libraries to purchase a Texas periodicals index, the frequency of publication preferred, and preferences among cost ranges.

At the TLA Annual Assembly RRT Executive Board meeting 25 July 1980, John Hepner announced that the membership of the Bibliographic Committee would remain unchanged as it continued to investigate the feasibility of RRT sponsorship of a Texas periodicals index. Ann Graves was named to chair the committee and John Hepner would attend its next meeting in September ex officio. The committee would decide whether or not RRT should be directly involved in the index project.

Ann Graves reported at the 2 April 1981 RRT business meeting that the committee was still trying to determine the feasibility of the index. It was focussing on how much of an index to produce, who should produce it, the potential market for it, publicity needed, and how to insure its continuation. Charles Smith reported on a computer-produced pilot index supported with funding from Texas A&M. The committee was to examine the trial index and decide how to proceed further. The committee was considering 100-150 periodical titles for inclusion in the projected index. The use of volunteer indexers was being considered and twelve volunteers had been found. The volunteers each would index one or more journals for a particular time period. The anticipated frequency of publication would be semiannual with annual cumulations. The possibility of a commercial venture was being considered, but the committee was concerned with keeping costs within a range small libraries could afford. Funding was being sought from TLA and various foundations.

Charles Smith and Ann Graves reported further on the costs of producing an index to Texas periodicals at the RRT Executive Board meeting 24 July 1981. Using volunteer labor, an index of 75 titles was estimated to cost $6950. An index of 100 titles was estimated to cost $8650 and 150 titles was estimated to cost $11800. The estimates were based on the cost of producing 250 coopies of semiannual issues with the second issue cumulating for the year. Income from sales at various prices per issue ($25-$50) of 250 copies were charted showing revenues of $6250 to $12500. Two Austin-based commercial publishers, Will Howard and Richard Stevens, had expressed interest in producing a similar index. Will Howard's "Some Notes Toward the Provision of a Texas Index to Periodicals" (March 1980) provided additional analysis of costs for producing a Texas periodicals index commercially and emphasized the importance of publicity. RRT Chair Dean Covington suggested the two publishers meet with the Bibliographic Committee to develop criteria for producing an index to Texas periodicals. Using the criteria, the publishers would write proposals (including cost estimates) to present to the RRT Executive Board by February 1982. The Board would then review the proposals in conjunction with the report of the Bibliographic Committee prior to the 1982 TLA Annual conference.

At the 31 March 1982 RRT business meeting, Ann Graves reported that the Bibliographic Committee and the RRT Executive Board had agreed to table the Texas periodicals index project for two years. The first issue of a commercial index to Texas and Oklahoma periodicals, the Red River Index, was scheduled to be published within a few days. Twenty-six Texas periodicals were to be indexed comprehensively in the new publication. The committee would be advising the editor of Red River Index on titles to include, terminology to be used, and sources of funding to support automating the indexing process. Andrew Peters, editor of the Red River Index, was introduced and answered questions about the index.

Although the Bibliographic Committee was volunteered to serve as an advisory group and volunteer indexers for the Red River Index, minutes of RRT meetings for 13 April 1983 and 5 April 1984 both indicate that the committee actually did no advising on the index. At the 1984 meeting, Charles Smith reported receiving a letter announcing a new "Texas Periodical Index" was being produced. He had not received a response from his letter of inquiry about the index prior to the meeting.

The Red River Index was again the topic of discussion at the 19 July 1985 RRT Executive Board meeting. Antonio Martinez reported that Andrew Peters had asked for titles to be included in the index and his request had been referred to the RRT Publications Committee. Don Frank reported that Peters was considering discontinuing the Red River Index after the current year due to problems with equipment, money and manpower. The absence of guidelines led to inconsistencies in indexing quality by his volunteers. The Publications Committee had approached other private companies about continuing the index. The future of the index and RRT's continued relationship with it was in question because the committee was unsure what help Peters needed. RRT concensus was that the unit could not accept sole responsibility for the index. The next Publications Committee would further consider what to do about the Red River Index.

The Red River Index did indeed cease publication and any further action on it was no longer necessary. The index had published two volumes covering Texas periodicals from 1981 to 1984. Consideration of RRT involvement in publication of an index to Texas periodicals also ceased.

Although there is no direct evidence of RRT involvement in their creation, the Red River Index was not very long without a successor. Texas Index appeared in 1988. Sharon Giles was its editor and TEXinfo in Irving was its publisher. This probably is the index about which Charles Smith had received advance notice in 1984. It was published quarterly beginning with the Fall 1987 premier issue. Unfortunately, it ceased publication after its Spring 1991 issue (v. 4, no. 3).

A second successor, the Index to Texas Magazines and Documents, also began publication in 1988 with a volume for 1986 and continues to be published today. The library of Victoria College and University of Houston-Victoria produces the index as a non-commercial venture under the editorship of Marjorie Stewart. It is produced quarterly and each issue cumulates to the end of the year.

Although the Reference Round Table never successfully produced and maintained an index to Texas periodicals itself, it did manage to keep the issue alive long enough for the problems involved in the production of such an index to be resolved to the point that a viable index to Texas periodicals could be maintained.

Created on Jun 18, 2011 | Last updated April 18, 2013