IIAS | IIAS Newsletter Online | No. 25 | Regions | Southeast Asia


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!


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, form.

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.

E-mail: karni@wanadoo.nl


   IIAS | IIAS Newsletter Online | No. 25 | Regions | Southeast Asia