Indonesian Studies 'for Dummies'
Excerpta Indonesica nos. 1 - 60 now on CD-ROM
There is a much praised series of books written in a clear, pleasantly
readable style, yet scientifically fully accounted for, and very useful
if you want to know everything about, for instance, the Internet or photography
in a short time. These books are all published under a title that ends
with '... for dummies.' After reading such a volume, one supposedly graduates
from dummy to expert. In the same way, it is probably not far from the
truth to say that, in reading all the abstracts on this CD-ROM of 'Excerpta
Indonesica' by year of publication or by subject, one could become an
all-round expert in all or any of the humanities or social sciences of
Indonesia from scratch!
* By RAHADI KARNI
The original publications, selected for and summarized into abstracts
in Excerpta Indonesica since 1970, come from over fifty different countries,
written in over twenty-five different languages. The English-language
abstracts of the original publications are written by experts in Indonesian
Studies, and 'native speaker' editors have taken care that the abstracts
are published in a pleasantly readable, yet academically responsible,
The CD-ROM is based on the printed issues of the biannual abstracts
journal Excerpta Indonesica, first published in 1970 by the Centre for
Documentation on Modern Indonesia (1968-1993) of the Royal Institute of
Linguistics and Anthropology (KITLV) in Leiden, the Netherlands. Since
1993, Excerpta Indonesica has been published by the Library of the KITLV.
The CD-ROM, Excerpta Indonesica 1-60, is published by IDC Publishers of
Leiden, the Netherlands.
The content of the present database, which covers the issues 1-60 (1970-1999)
of Excerpta Indonesica, amounts to a total of 13,654 records of titles
and abstracts, among which are 2,699 abstracts of books, 2,097 abstracts
of sections of readers (collective volumes) and 8,858 abstracts of periodical
articles. The sources from which original documents are selected are the
excellent library collections of the KITLV, which maintains an accessions
office in Jakarta, and Excerpta Indonesica's own regional correspondents,
who contribute abstracts of articles and books not easily available in
the West (e.g. published in Japan and Russia).
Where the original printed issues provide timely information, the CD-ROM
offers superior accessibility by way of Broad Subject Ordering (consisting
of twenty-six categories), through the use of keywords in English (derived
from the KITLV Thesaurus containing over 8,000 terms), as well as of countries,
languages and year of publication, and even of words from the abstracts.
Of course, searches by title of the document, journal or series title,
author, editor, person's names, names of corporations, and titles of congresses
are also possible.
To get an impression of the variety and amount of information available,
one can look at the contents of the twenty-six categories of the Broad
Subject Ordering. History tops the list with 1,798 abstracts; next come
Economics (1,581); Anthropology (1,179); Politics (1,110); Literature
(990); Linguistics (915); Sociology (706); Religion (585); Arts (567);
Agriculture (528); Demography (501); Bibliographies (405); Archaeology
(373); Biographies (347); Education (347); Law (272); Foreign Relations
(270); Medicine (260); Environment (214); Gender Studies (196); Geography
(160); General Study (116); Public Administration (106); Philosophy (54);
Natural Sciences (44); and, finally, Engineering (33).
Equally impressive is the list of over fifty countries where the original
journal articles or books were published. In the top fifteen countries
of publication, covering over 98 per cent of the total number of abstracts,
Indonesia is number one with 3,974 abstracts; the Netherlands (2,646);
United States (1,681); Australia (1,324); Great Britain (863); Germany
(647); France (593); Singapore (424); Japan (367); Malaysia (331); Russia
(306); India (79); Switzerland (78); Canada (58) and the Philippines (50).
The above list may well be seen as the world league for Indonesian Studies.
The production of a unified database needed for CD-ROM publication proved
no easy task. Since Excerpta Indonesica was published for the first time
in 1970, when the height of library technology consisted of a typewriter,
a stencil machine, and filing cards, the data for all issues from 1970
to 1980 had to be entered manually in a unified database format. From
1981 onwards, dedicated word processors became available for producing
the journal. These data could be read into a modern computer, but necessitated
partly automated, and a lot of manual, conversion. By 1990, personal computers
and bibliographic database software facilitated production of the printed
issues. Though automated conversion was easier, much manual work was still
necessary to enter the data correct to the detail. This also applies to
the period 1995 to 1999, when production was realized by using the facilities
of the national Netherlands Electronic Union Catalogue PICA. The above
work on the production of the database took over three years to complete
and was financially supported by grants from the International Institute
for Asian Studies and the KITLV.
Last, but not least, the CD-ROM includes the KITLV Thesaurus, searchable
in Dutch, French, Spanish, Indonesian, and, of course, in English. A search
yields suggestions for related, narrower, or broader keywords in English
which may be copied and pasted into the Excerpta Indonesica database on
the same CD-ROM for help in retrieving relevant information. Once every
two years a cumulative update of the Excerpta Indonesica database will
be published by IDC Publishers. *
Rahadi S. Karni, MA studied Social Anthropology and
Computer Applications in the Humanities and Social Sciences at Leiden
University. He was attached to the KITLV as Head of the Documentation
Centre for modern Indonesia (1968-1993) and as Librarian in charge of
Automation and Documentation (1993 - 2001).
From 1995-1997 he acted as Senior ICT Consultant to the IIAS.