At the American Numismatic Association World’s Fair of Money in August, I attended a lively discussion at the Numismatic Bibliomania Society meeting on Aug. 10 about two very different numismatic periodicals: Kerry Wetterstrom spoke about The Celator, a monthly journal that focuses on ancient numismatics, and Steve Roach spoke about Coin World (no introduction needed on that here!).
It was interesting to hear how two different publications, with vastly different content, presentation and audiences, took very similar approaches to issues such as editing and managing a numismatic periodical.
The audience soon led the conversation toward digital content and the challenges and conveniences of moving toward digitized access of such publications. Questions about the indexing practices of both publications and digital availability of articles were also prominent. The Celator is primarily a printed publication, but Coin World, with a larger staff and wider audience, has taken steps toward addressing this desire for digital content.
Steve explained that while a searchable archive is available to subscribers at www.coinworld.com starting at the Nov. 19, 2007, issue, there is no public index before that and there still exists a need to digitize all previous issues of Coin World.
Digitized access to Coin World articles would not only enhance access but it would allow greater searching of previous articles.
As we wait for this to happen, researchers can take advantage of another resource that acts as an index not only for Coin World but for numerous numismatic periodicals: DONUM, the online library catalog of the American Numismatic Society. The ANS Library possesses all physical copies of Coin World, dating back to that first issue of April 21, 1960, and has actively indexed thousands of articles in an effort to facilitate research and reduce the number of places that researchers need to go to find information. Moreover, it has been a continuing practice of library staff to include indexed periodicals in this online library database, DONUM (donum.numismatics.org). Coin World has always featured prominently in these indexing activities, and we currently have more than 6,000 article records from Coin World alone in DONUM.
This does not mean that the online catalog gives access to full articles, because of copyright regulations and issues involved with the digitization process, but the results will point researchers toward a substantially larger pool of material.
Although I am eager to get the word out about the usefulness of DONUM, I should caution that because of limitations in storage, most of the physical copies of Coin World are stored high above the regular stacks and require a strong back and ladder maneuvers to access. This is yet another illustration of the need for a full digital archive of Coin World.
I also hope more readers will continue to seek out the resources of the ANS and use our databases to enhance research and further general numismatic education. There are more than 250 periodical titles in the ANS Library, and keeping updated analytical records for many of the most important articles within those periodicals can be challenging with our limited library staff.
DONUM covers all of the periodicals, nationally and internationally, within the ANS Library collections. Coupled with the physical items in the collections, such as books and auction catalogs, all together more than 170,000 records are available for research in DONUM. Each time you do a keyword or subject search, you are scanning more than 170,000 records for relevant information. This is an incredible resource and one that I simply cannot stress enough. And best of all, it is free.
The ANS as a whole is working toward digitization in other aspects as well. The ANS has recently updated two other online resources to assist researchers: MANTIS, the coin database (http://numismatics.org/search/), and ARCHER, the database of ANS Archives (http://numismatics.org/archives/).
MANTIS can be especially useful as a reference tool for researchers and collectors as it provides access to all 600,000 records of objects in the ANS collection, through a series of new, easy-to-use search screens. The tool enables users to interact with the ANS Collection through keyword searches or by browsing and sorting on numerous categorical and physical attributes common to numismatics. This search tool connects individual objects together by these searchable attributes, allowing users to seamlessly navigate from one object to its relations.
Evident with these three online databases, the ANS has kept up so far in a fast-paced race, as transforming technology and making information available online is especially important in reaching users who cannot visit ANS in person. I encourage readers to use our databases and explore what our resources can do for your research.
Elizabeth Hahn is the librarian of the American Numismatic Society in New York City.