Here’s a case of odd priorities. The Royal Library in Stockholm keeps a copy of everything that is printed in Sweden (and Swedish), and also has a lot of people tending LIBRIS, the national bibliographic database. Recently, the folks who keep track of scholarly publications in historical research (through the Swedish Historical Bibliography project) completed the digitisation of a huge printed bibliography for their field, which means that LIBRIS now contains references to almost every piece of historical research that has ever been published in this country.
Now, how is the Royal Library celebrating this milestone in Swedish historiography? Well… By terminating the Swedish Historical Bibliography project! We have just attained this unbroken slab of on-line digital bibliography, a boon to everyone around the world who takes an interest in Swedish history, and now it’s just going to end with 2010!
The Director of the National Library, Gunnar Sahlin, refers scholars to the new user-generated database Swepub instead. Trouble is, Swepub is only open to contributions by authors employed by a university – and not all those who are ever update Swepub. Looking at publications from 2009, for instance, Swepub has caught 655 pieces of historical research, while the professional bibliographers have put 2218 into the Swedish Historical Bibliography. Swepub has only 30% of the material.
Not all worthwhile historical research is produced by people who work at universities and use their Swepub accounts. Sooner or later someone will reverse Sahlin’s decision, the Swedish Historical Bibliography machinery will have to be reassembled and re-started from a stand-still, and then there will be a backlog starting in 2011 to process…
The Swedish Library Association’s newsletter covers the issue.