Mla International Bibliography Thesaurus Definition

MLA International Bibliography
in Academic Libraries Discussion Group

Bibliography of Studies on the MLA International Bibliography

This Bibliography was originally compiled by Scott Stebelman. Additional citations should be sent to the current editor, Faye Christenberry.

Annotators who have contributed to the Bibliography are: Wendy Bousfield, Michaelyn Burnette, William Gargan, Heather Martin, Reinhart Sonnenburg, Bill Wortman, Susanna Van Sant and Martha Zarate.

Last updated February 2008.


Anderson, James D. "Contextual Indexing and Facted Classfication for Databases in the Humanities." In Information Choices and Policies: Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science. 42nd Annual Meeting, 1979. White Plains, NY: Knowledge Industry, 1979: 194-201.
Describes the Contextual Indexing and Faceted Taxonomic Access System (CIFT), developed in 1978 for the MLAIB. A single indexing operation generates both alphabetical indexes and classified arrays. For each subject area, a set of fundamental aspects, called "facets," must be specified, together with their preferred order for classification. Subject experts decide on descriptors and group them under relevant facets. When they use terms that are not established descriptors, the index editor will either add these to the thesaurus with a scope note or make "USE" references from them to the preferred descriptor. CIFT provides significantly more detailed indexing than previous MLA practice.

------. "Prototype Designs for Subject Access to the Modern Language Association's Bibliographic Database." Data Bases in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Ed. Joseph Raben and Gregory Marks. Amsterdam: North-Holland, 1980: 291-95.

Reports on a project to redesign the subject indexing of the MLAIB. Four approaches for providing subject access to language and literature scholarship were tested and compared: (1) title keyword with context indexing; (2) augmented keyword indexing (search terms drawn from title, preface, introduction and conclusion); (3) enumerative classification based on MLA's existing practice of organizing literature by language and/or place, period, then specific literary figure; and (4) a new system called "Contextual Indexing and Faceted Taxonomic Access System," of "CIFT." The MLA plans to implement CIFT, which uses both a classified sequence of document citations and an alphabetical subject index based on descriptors assigned to each item by indexers.

------. "Structure in Database Indexing." The Indexer 12 (1980): 3-13.

In its early printed format, the MLAIB required that a search be channelled through national literature and, within nationality, by period. Individual authors could be located only if national literature and period were known. While the inclusion of the MLAIB among the DIALOG databases in 1978 permitted greater search flexibility, subject access was still limited. To address problems of access, the Modern Language Association's Revision Team developed several prototype indexing systems. CIFT (Contextual Indexing and Faceted Taxonomic Access System) was selected for implementation. CIFT permits searches by subject and form descriptors, languages and places (as subject), chronological periods, persons, themes, influences, disciplines, etc. CIFT may be used to produce both classified arrays and alphabetical indexes from a single set of data.

Arens, Katherine. "Teaching and the MLA Bibliography." Profession (2002): 158-63.

Armento, Greg. "Evaluating the MLA International Bibliography for Social Science Content: What Information Can Be Found." The Library Quarterly 69 (1999): 476-500.

Atkinson, Steven D. and Geraldene Walker. "Online Access in the Humanities: Implications for Researchers. A Report to the Council on Library Resources." ERIC, 1989. ED 317207.

Comparative study of nine databases used in humanities and fine arts research, including the MLAIB. Search of subject-specific terms across a broad spectrum of databases reaffirms importance of multifile searching. The MLAIB, especially, proved to be an important source for material in all humanities and fine arts disciplines. The use of controlled vocabulary achieved higher postings in all databases, especially in the fields of art and literature.

Baker, William and Byron Anderson. "The MLA Database on CD-ROM: Perception and Reality." Library Review 43.2 (1994): 30-36.

Evaluates the coverage of MLA on CD ROM through comparison with other literary bibliographies. The authors searched selected literary figures in the print and SilverPlatter MLAIB, ABELL, American Literary Scholarship, Victorian Studies, and in bibliographies devoted to the author in question or his or her period. Each bibliography checked included unique citations. While the content of the print and electronic versions of the MLAIB is, presumably, identical, retrieval results varied slightly for the same topic and time period. The authors, therefore, conclude (1) that literary researchers wishing to be comprehensive consult a variety of indexes and (2) that research libraries subscribe to the MLAIB in both print and electronic formats.

Beghtol, Clare. "Domain Analysis, Literary Warrant, and Consensus: The Case of Fiction Studies." Journal of the American Society for Information Science 46 (1995): 30-44.

Restricting her study to the domain of fiction, the author tests whether certain MLAIB suoercodes and descriptors appear more often than others. Among her findings are that folk literature (and its variants) as a genre, 19th and 20th century as periods, and the Bible and The Divine Comedy appear with greater frequency than would occur by chance. She recommends that further research be done on other MLAIB subfiles over a longer period of time, and that additional domains be included.

Borgstrom, Amy et al. "WILSONDISC'S MLA On CD-ROM." CD-ROM Professional 3.5 (Sept. 1990): 64-68.

Reviews the system requirements, audience, scope, and record format of the most current version of WILSONDISC'S MLA. Instructs researchers in the use of the three search modes: Browse, WILSEARCH, and WILSONLINE. Expert, a search option available in earlier versions, has been discontinued. Praises the currency and ease of use of this product, but recommends that users compensate for the lack of a thesaurus by scanning the subject headings of the print version.

Brockman, S. William. "Interdependence of Electronic and Printed Bibliographic Information in English Studies." Academic Libraries: Achieving Excellence in Higher Education. Proceedings of the 6th National Conference of the ACRL, Salt Lake City, Ut. April 12-14, 1992. Thomas Kirk, ed. Chicago: Association of College & Research Libraries, 1992: 312-15.

Brockman's essay assesses two alternative ways of searching the bibliographic universe to English literature. He presents "canonic" and "electronic," and uses as an example for the former, the William Butler Yeats: Classified Bibliography of Criticism by K.P.S. Jochum, and for the latter, the MLA International Bibliography. His essay demonstrates that a combination of both is the best for the researcher. His argument is for a positive "coexistence of two different means of gathering information." He emphasizes the complementary nature of both methods, and presents his views on the pro's and con's of these research sources.

Budd, John Mason. ""Characteristics of Research Materials Used By American Literature Scholars: A Citation Study." Diss. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1985.

Budd drew the sample of American Literature scholarship used in his citation analysis from the 1981 MLA Bibliography (DIALOG). He includes incidental evaluative commentary of this database. While the MLA Bibliography is the most timely and comprehensive literary index available, its usefulness is hampered by limited access to individual works. It classifies inconsistently expatriate Americans and nationalized American citizens.

------."The Uses of Online Bibliographic Searching in Literary Research."In Sixth International Conference on Computers and the Humanities. Ed. Sarah K. Burton and Douglas D. Short. Rockville, MD: Computer Science P, 1983: 39-46.

Cowell, Penelope M. "The Provision of Current Bibliographical Information in the Field of English Literature." MLib Thesis, University of Wales, 1981.

Dasenbrock, Reed Way. "English Department Geography." ADE Bulletin (Spring 1987): 18-23.

Though more inclusive of Anglophone writing in Africa, South- East Asia, and India than most university English curricula, the MLAIB still privileges literature originating in England and America. Misleadingly, it classifies as English writers born in England who lived and worked elsewhere, as well as those born abroad who did their writing in England. Contemporary literature in English is scattered among thirty categories in the 1983 MLAIB, reflecting university curricula that relegate some of the best writing in English to the margins. Dasenbrock recommends that literary scholars, and the MLAIB, make literature in English, not nationality, their central category.

------. "English Department Geography: Interpreting the MLA Bibliography." In Pedagogy Is Politics: Literary Theory and Critical Teaching. Ed. Maria-Regina Kecht. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1992: 193-214.

Calls for a rethinking of the traditional division, among academic institutions, of literature into nonforeign and foreign. Not only does such a division artificially suggest that English and American literature represent a single nationality, but it maginalizes English language writing from other cultures. Although, after 1986, the MLA Bibliography became more multi- cultural in orientation, it still reflects the profession's Anglocentric bias. Writers from the smaller Commonwealth countries, those with complex national origins, and Americans writing in languages other than English, are classified inconsistently. Dasenbrock believes that inconsistencies are inevitable as long as the MLA Bibliography attempts to classify writers according to language and literature simultaneously.

DeHart, F.E. and K. Matthews. "French Fiction: LCSH Applications." Cataloging & Classification Quarterly 9.2 (1988): 3-24.

For fifty monographs dealing with French fiction, the authors compared the LC subject headings in OCLC records with the MLA descriptors. Only forty-five percent (157) of the 348 MLA descriptors had LCSH equivalents. Corresponding LC headings for MLA literary descriptors are available, but restrictive usage policies limit their application.

Desmarais, Norman. "MLA Bibliography on CD-ROM: A User's Perspective." Optical Information Systems 9 (1989): 138-43.

Summarizes and evaluates the four search modes of the WILSONDISC version of the MLA International Bibliography: Browse, Wilsearch, Wilsonline, and Expert. Recommends that Wilsonline and Expert be combined, since there is little difference between them. Though he believes the Wilson product preferable to the paper index, Desmarais criticizes MLA's inconsistent, complicated search qualifiers. Because of poor authority control, Desmarais recommends using Browse mode to determine variant forms of names and terms.

Diaz, Karen R. and Harriet Alexander. "Searching the MLA International Bibliography." Reference & User Services Quarterly 40.3 (2001): 228-233.

Dow, James R. "Recent Developments in the 'International Folklore Bibliography.'" Folklore Americano 43 (1987): 33-41.

Reports on a project to improve and automate indexing of the International Folklore Bibliography. The editors of the IFB looked for guidance to the MLAIB, which has included folklore entries since 1970 and has gradually been adding folklore entries for earlier years to its database. The editors were impressed with the MLAIB use of Contextual Indexing and Faceted Taxonomic Access System (CIFT) to index folklore topics and also with MLA's standardization of journal and serial information. At the time of publication, the editors were negotiating with DIALOG to include their data in a subfile of the MLAIB. Both bibliographies are necessary, since the MLAIB indexes primarily American folklore, the IFB primarily European.

------ and Daniel Uchitelle. "Volkskundliche Arbeit bei der MLA." Internationale und Nationale Volkskundliche Bibliographien. Vienna: Selbstverlag des Vereins fur Volkskunde, 1991: 69-88.

Targeted at an audience of German-speaking folklorists, this article introduces the MLAIB as a supplement and alternative to the standard folklore bibliography, _Internationale volkskundliche Bibliographie_. It provides a brief outline history of the MLAIB, points out its increasing international scope, as well as its expanded and improved coverage of folklore studies beginning in 1970 and even more so since 1981, with the adoption of a more sophisticated classification scheme for folklore. Contains brief discussion of MLAIB indexing system, thesaurus, and technological innovations of the MLAIB CD-ROM.

Everett, D. and D. M. Pilachowski. "What's In a Name? Looking for People Online--Humanities." Database 9.5 (1986): 26-34.

Examines ways to search personal names in several humanities databases available through Dialog and BRS. The difficulties caused by MLAIB's 1981 indexing changes are noted along with techniques for getting relevant hits.

Fagan, Jody Condit. "Comparative Review of the MLA International Bibliography on EBSCO, InfoTrac, and OVID." Charleston Advisor 5.1 (2003): 12-18.

Compares three interfaces to the Bibliography and gives scores according to content, searchability, pricing options and special features. Concludes that InfoTrac might be preferred for an undergraduate and high school audience, while the more sophisticated OVID features may be better for advanced researchers.

Falk, Joyce Duncan. "Database Characteristics and Search Problems in the Humanities." In Online '85 Conference Proceedings. Weston, CT: Online, 1985: 102-106.

Abstract of a paper in which the author discusses features of several humanities databases on Dialog and BRS. Still useful for its description of the scope of the MLAIB and of the differences between the pre- and post-1981 files and the implications for searching.

------."The New Technology for Research in European Women's History: 'Online' Bibliographies." Signs 9 (1983): 120-33.

Article explaining the basics of computer-assisted searching to scholars in women's studies. Tangential mention of the MLAIB.

------. "Survey of Online Searching in the Humanities in Four-Year College and University Libraries. 1985. ERIC. ED261687.

Franco, Elaine A. "'The New 'MLA Bibliography': One Bibliographer'sPerspective." In Proceedings from the 1982 Spring Meeting of the Nebraska Library Association, College and University Section, Seward, Nebraska, April 15-16, 19882. ERIC, 1982. ED 231349.

Franklin, Phyllis. "Pay the Piper: Creating and Maintaining the MLA International Bibliography." In New Technologies and New Directions. Meckler, 1993: 41-9.

Written by the Executive Director of the MLA, the article provides useful background on the development of the bibliography, the production cycle, its coverage, the fiscal constraints and the uncertainties generated by the rise of electronic modes of publication.

------. "Scholars, Librarians, and the Future of Primary Records." College and Research Libraries 54 (1993): 397-406.

Gardner, Lucie. "MLA International Bibliography: Une Evaluation." Argus 20 (1991): 31-3.

Review of the Wilsondisc version of MLAIB covering 1981-1991; the focus is on the Wilson interface, its three modes of searching, and the different search results each produces.

Golderman, Gail M. and Bruce Connelly. "Lit Crit Online." Library Journal Net Connect 126.17 (2001): 40-46.

Review of the literature databases DISCovering Collection, Literature Online, Literature Resource Center 3.0, and the MLA International Bibliography.

Goudy, A. W. "Music Coverage in Online Databases." Database 5.4 (1982): 39-57.

Compares eleven non-music databases on Dialog for coverage of topics related to the study of music and states the value of searching outside Music Index and RILM for finding pertinent information. Goudy laments the lack of subject indexing but praises the coverage, especially in the area of folk music.

Graziano, Vince. "Retrieval Performance and Indexing Differences in ABELL and MLAIB." Journal of Electronic Resources Librarianship 24.4 (2012): 268-287.

Guillory, John. "The Very Idea of Pedagogy." Profession (2002): 164-71.

Guyonneau, Christine H. "Literature of Francophone Africa and Its Diaspora in Bibliographic Indexes: An Evaluation." African Research and Documentation 37 (1985): 27-37.

Harner, James L. Some Suggestions for the Future of the MLA International Bibliography IN: Foster, David William (ed.). Bibliography in Literature, Folklore, Language and Linguistics: Essays on the Status of the Field. Jefferson, NC: McFarland (2003): 153-60.

-----. "Volumes of Homage." (Letter in reply to A. P. Kenney and L. J. Workman) Scholarly Publishing 11 (July 1980): 375.

Response to Kenney-Workman's "Volumes of Homage" in Scholarly Publishing 11 (1980), 143-156. Calls their description of the MLAIB coverage of Festschriften "misleading" because the MLAIB does analyse these volumes, list their contents, and index the whole as well as each article.

Harris, Kevin and Kenneth Bell. "The Subject Approach to Literature Studies: A Reassessment with an Analysis of Dissertation Topics." British Journal of Academic Librarianship 3.2 (1988): 99-106.

Hindersmann, Jost. "Ausgewahlte Bibliographien und Andere Nachschlagewerke: Digitale Medien." Zeitschrift fur Bibliothekswesen und Bibliographie 44 (1997): 439-442.

------. MLAIB und ABELL: Periodische Fachbibliographien, CD-ROM-und Online-Datenbanken zur Anglistik. Muenster: LIT-Verlag, 1997. Anglistik/Amerikanistik, 4. For an English summary, see English and American Studies in German 1997: Summaries of Theses and Monographs. A Supplement to Anglia. Tubingen: Niemeyer, 1998: 52-54.

------."Modern Language Association of America (MLA) International Bibliography auf CD-ROM."Zeitschrift fuer Bibliothekswesen und Bibliographie 44.4 (1997): 439-442.

Hoffman, H. H. and A. B. Grisby. "Online Access to the Embedded Literature of 'Literature.'" Database 4 (1981): 55-63.

Written at a time when "[O]nline access to literature is practially nil" (57), this article compares 16 literary searches done in the DIALOG files Magazine Index and the MLAIB and concluded that "it is easy to retrieve specific, known works by author and/or title" (62) but that online sources yield little full-text material. Recommends better distinction between subject and genre descriptors, the inclusion of information about the language of the original, retrieval by first line of the work, and better information about the nationality of the subject author/work.

Hulseberg, Anna. "Literary Research in Women's Studies: An Analysis of Indexing Sources." Feminist Collections 16.4 (1995): 13-17.

Comparison of the MLAIB (on WilsonDisc), Humanities Index and Women's Studies Abstracts for indexing scholarship about women writers.

Jennings, M.S. "Information Science and Literary Scholarship: Views from the Modern Language Association Convention." American Society for Information Science Bulletin 3 (Feb. 1977): 34-36.

Uses the 1976 annual MLA conference as a springboard for discussion of the role of technology in humanistic research. Decries the lack of sophisticated information retrieval systems in the field and calls for closer ties between humanist scholars and information professionals. Comments on the failure of MLA Abstracts and applauds the development of the MLA's "Research Data Bank," scheduled for release in 1980.

Kahn, Paul. "Making a Difference: A Review of the User Interface Features in Six CD-ROM Database Products." Optical Information Systems 8.4 (1988): 169-83.

Examines how local access provided by a CD-ROM format affects the design of the user interface for searching large databases. The Wilsondisc version of the MLAIB is one of six products evaluated. Factors considered include ease of browsing, menu use, ability to refine searches, accessing an online version, and ease of printing and saving results.

Kibbee, Jo. "Tradition Meets Technology: Searching Folklore Online." Database 10 (1987): 24-26.

With specific reference to DIALOG searching, this article compares the MLA Bibliography's coverage of folklore with several other online indexes including ERIC, America; History And Life, Art Modern, RILA, and Medline. Comprehensiveness, timeliness of indexing, and ease of retrieving precise information are among the factors evaluated. Concludes that the MLA Bibliography "should serve as the core of any folklore-related search," but that other data bases should be utilized as well.

Koerner, "Meserole et al: 1969 MLA International Bibliography, III: Linguistics." Language 47 (1971): 915. [book review]

Review of the linguistics volume of the 1969 MLAIB points out that the journal General Linguistics has assumed responsibility for the publication of this portion of the Bibliography. Commends the Bibliography for its up-to-date coverage compared with the Bibliographie Linguistique but criticizes it on a number of "omissions and technical shortcomings" including lack of coverage of newer journals. Concludes with a call for a "more complete, more informative, and more reliable annual linguistics bibliography.

Komorowski, Manfred. "Die diskussion um die Zeitschriftenaufsatzkatalogisierung Anglistik, Germanistik, Romanistik in den letzten Jahren." Zeitschrift für Bibliothekswesen und Bibliographie 26 (1979): 66-73.

Compares the cataloging of recent periodical articles on English, German and Romance languages and literature in eight bibliographies including the MLAIB.

Leibold, Anne. "Bibliographic Data Bases in the Humanities: A Performance Study." In Sixth International Conference on Computers and the Humanities. Rockville, MD: Computer Science Press, 1983: 368-82.

Analyzes "input and output flaws" in Language and Language Behavior Abstracts, the MLA Bibliography, the ABC-Clio files including Historical Abstracts, and the Philosophers' Index. Evaluates success of searching in electronic versus print indexes. Finds that "the MLA online database allowed the retrieval of a substantial number of relevant citations not accessible otherwise" but expresses some misgivings about inconsistencies in both print and electronic indexes. Notes that findings confirm results of study done by Eileen Mackesy in "Searching Problems in the MLA Bibliography On-Line (Below)."

Lepkowski, Frank J. "SilverPlatter's MLA International Bibliography on CD-ROM: Recent Literary Studies for End-User Searching." CD-ROM Librarian 7 (1992): 35-40.

Reviews the SilverPlatter version of the MLAIB on CD-ROM. Notes the advantages of the SilverPlatter product over Wilsonline and the printed bibliography.

Lindemann, Erika. "Early Bibliographic Work in Composition Studies." Profession (2002): 151-57.

Loomis, Abigail A. "Dickens Duplications: A Study of Overlap in Serial Bibliographies in Literature." RQ 25.3 (Spring 1986): 348-355.

Compares indexing of critical studies for Charles Dickens in the MLAIB, ABELL, The Year's Work in English Studies, Victorian Studies, and bibliographies in several specialized serials devoted to Dickens. Finds a high rate of overlap but notes significant omissions in coverage as well. Recommends consolidation of bibliographic efforts or "a formal plan whereby the bibliographic coverage of a subject is divided among several bibliographies" in order to provide more comprehensive and timely coverage.

Love, Steve. "Researching Non-English Literature of the United States with the Modern Language Association (MLA) Database." In Multilingual America: Transnationalism, Ethnicity, and the Languages of American Literature. NY and London: New York UP, 1998: 395-396.

Lowry, Anita. "A Consumer's Report on Humanities Databases." Technicalities 2.8 (1982): 1-3, 11-12.

Examination of problems in structure of humanities databases in six databases available through DIALOG, including the MLAIB. Lowry posits four needs of humanities scholars: retrospective coverage, comprehensiveness, flexibility, and low cost. She looks at the way the databases approach personal names, time periods, geographic areas and metaphorical language. Among other recommendations, she asks that all the MLAIB descriptors for personal name and time period be added to the file. She points out the difficulties of controlled vocabulary searching in the current MLAIB file and makes several suggestions for improving the six humanities files.

Lyle, Stanley P. "Authors Guides to Scholarly Periodicals." Journal of Scholarly Publishing 15.3 (1984): 273-79.

An annotated bibliography of "authors' or contributors' guides to periodicals publishing unsolicited manuscripts" in a wide range of disciplines. Cites the MLA Directory of Periodicals (April 1981) as one such guide in the humanities.

Mackesy, Eileen M. "Humanities Databases: Survival Through Partnerships." Literary Research: A Journal of Scholarly Method and Technique 13.1 (1988): 13-19.

------. "MLA Bibliography Online Provides Access to Language, Literature, and Folklore." Database 2 (1979): 36-43.

Announces the availability of the MLAIB, years 1976 and 1977 only, for online searching as a file on the Lockheed/DIALOG system. Briefly describes the development of the computerized Bibliography. Describes the scope of the database, the sources for compilation of the bibliographic citations, and the languages represented in the database. Compares and contrasts the arrangement of the print Bibliography to the advanced search techniques available in the online version. Lists the database specifications.

------."The MLA International Bibliography: Enumerative Classification in an On-line Data Base." In Data Bases in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Amsterdam: North-Holland, 1980: 285-89.

Describes the history and workflow of the electronic data processing of the MLAIB. Discusses the classification and organization of the Bibliography and the drawbacks this structure presents to the user of the printed version. Describes how online access to the Bibliography can help overcome search problems in the printed version. Recognizes that the lack of specificity in the subject descriptors complicates the use of the online version. Mentions plans to improve subject access to the Bibliography.

------. "The MLA Thesaurus of Linguistic, Literary, and Folkloric Terms: A Work in Progress." Proceedings of the American Society for Information Science 18 (1981):

Describes the Contextual Indexing and Faceted Taxonomic Access System (CIFT), a classification and indexing system implemented with the 1981 MLAIB. Illustrates how CIFT is used to compile the MLA Thesaurus and discusses the philosophy, structure, and function of the Thesaurus.

------." A Perspective on Secondary Access Services in the Humanities." Journal of the American Society for Information Science 33.3 (1982):

------. "Searching Problems in the MLA Bibliography On-Line." In National Online Meeting Proceedings: 2nd National Online Meeting. Medford, NJ: Learned Information, Inc., 1981: 351-57.

Discusses the searching problems of the pre-1981 online version of MLAIB. Focuses on multi-language searching, lack of controlled vocabulary, and inconsistency of historical period searches. Discusses how these problems will be solved with the new indexing system of the 1981online version of the Bibliography.

McClamroch, Jo et al. "MLA on CD-ROM: End-Users Respond." RSR: Reference Services Review 19 (1991): 81-86.

Examines the WILSONDISC software version 2.2 of MLAIB on CD-ROM. Reports the results of a survey of WILSONDISC MLAIB users at the University of Delaware Library, Newark. Concludes that survey respondents were pleased with MLAIB overall but were concerned with lack of printed or on-screen documentation and lack of a complete backfile.

Madden, Lionel. "Printed and Online Bibliographies for English Literary Studies: A Decade of Change." Library Review 35.4 (Winter 1986): 248-54.

Mayer, D.R. "1983 MLA International Bibliography, vol. 5: Folklore." Asian Folklore Studies 44.2 (1985). (book review)

Melton, Robert W. "Review Essay of 1981 MLA International Bibliography." Biblio-Notes: Newsletter of the [ACRL] English and American Literature Discussion Group 2: 4-10.

Evaluates the new format and indexing of the 1981 MLAIB. Examines the classification and subject indexing of three articles published in 1981. Compares the MLAIB indexing of these articles to the indexing in _Arts and Humanities Citation Index_ and _Humanities Index_. Discovers a lack of access points in the MLAIB classification and indexing, but views the new 1981 format and subject index as major improvements in the Bibliography.

Mendez, A. "An Analysis of Humanists Requests Received by An Information-Service for the Humanities." Journal of Information Science 9.3 (1984): 97-105.

Meserole, Harrison T. "The MLA Bibliographical System: Past, Present, and Future." PMLA 86 (1971): 580-86.

Chronicles the birth and development of the MLAIB in recognition of its 50th year of publication. Pinpoints the major modifications of the Bibliography, citing the people influential in its production. Asserts the importance of the introduction of computer processing in the production of the Bibliography. Proposes new bibliographical projects and services as a result of the computerization of MLAIB production.

------. "Trends in American Studies: Some Evidence from the MLA International Bibliography." The American Examiner: A Forum of Ideas 2.2 (1974): 7-9.

Mitchell, Stephen O. and Loren Sears. "An Information Retrieval System for Modern Language Studies." Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 38.3 (1964): 270-78.

Describes a Syracuse University project in which a portion of the 1958 _MLA Annual Bibliography_ was mechanized using punch cards and transferring data to magnetic tape. Outlines the goals of the project as allowing easier searching for citations, permitting the compilation of supplementary bibliographies, and suggesting new methods of approaching large scale indexing projects. Suggests the following improvements to the MLA Annual Bibliography to make it more adaptable to machine operation: addition of annotations and standardization of subject classifications.

"MLA Bibliography." Online Libraries and Comoputers 10.6/7 (June 1, 1992): 9-.

"MLA Bibliography Available Soon." OCLC Newsletter 197 (1992): 30.

"MLA International Bibliography." Information Retrieval & Library Automation. 30.7 (1994): 5- .

"MLA International Bibliography." Online Newsletter 13.2 (Feb. 1, 1992): 9- .

Morgan-Rodini, Eleanor. "Computer Searching of Humanities Databases." In Italiana: Selected Papers from the Proceedings of the Third Annual Conference of the American Association of Teachers of Italian, Dec. 27-28, 1986 New York, NY. River Forest, IL: Rosary College, 1988: 51-58.

Morton, Herbert C. and Hans Rutimann. "A Profile of Scholarly Journals: The MLA Findings." Change 15 (1983): 54-55.

Murray, Roger and Sally McNall. "Period Styles: A Bibliography of Recent Theory." Style 9 (1975): 155-80.

Mutrux, Robin and James D. Anderson. "Contextual Indexing and Faceted Taxonomic Access Systems." Drexel Library Quarterly 19 (1983): 91-109.

"Offline: MLA Bibliography Off DIALOG, Financial Times Abstracts Off Data-Star; NewsNet Titles." Database Searcher 8.4 (May 1, 1992): 14.

Pastine, Maureen and Laura Osegueda. "Computer Databases in Academic Libraries: Implications for Language and Literature Research." Literary Research Newsletter. 8.3/4 (1983): 107-117.

Patterson, M. C. "MLA Directory of Periodicals: A Guide to Journals and Serials in Languages and Literatures." Literary Research Newsletter 7.2-3 (1982):

Perry, L. S. "The MLA Database as A Source of Film Criticism." Journal of Academic Librarianship 18 (1992): 146-50.

Asserts that the Modern Language Association's description of MLAIB should be changed to reflect the wealth of information on film included in the Bibliography. Describes the development of film studies and the schools of thought (e.g.--feminism, Marxism) used in both film and literature criticism. Examines and gives examples of searching for film criticism in the CD-ROM version of MLAIB on WILSONDISC and the online version on DIALOG. Compares the coverage of film journals in the MLAIB database to coverage in other databases.

Piternick, A. B. "Requirements for the Scholarly Journal in Transition." Scholarly Publishing 14.1 (1982):

Philbin, Paul, Bonnie Ryan and Joe Ryan. "WILSONDISC: Modern Language Association Bibliography." CD-ROM Librarian 3.6 (1988): 26-32.

Discusses the complexities of combining the Wilson software with the MLA indexing style. Among the recommendations are merging the MLAIB with Humanities Index and possibly Essay and General Literature index so that users would have to consult only one database. The review points out the lack of documentation for the MLAIB WILSONDISC, problems in browse, a need for Wilson software changes, and difficulties posed by the lack of authority control in the bibliography.

Raben, Joseph and Sarah K. Burton. "Information-Systems and Services in the Arts and Humanities." Annual Review of Information Science and Technology 16 (1981): 247-66.

Ranald, M. L. "And Welcome to the Club: The Mission of the Graduate Methodology Course in English." Literary Research: A Journal of Scholarly Method and Technique 11.4 (1986): 253-68.

"Report of the MLA Bibliography Scope and Overlap Committee, an ACRL Ad Hoc Committee." ERIC, 1997. ED417730.

Reynolds, Judy. "The MLA International Bibliography and Library Instruction in Literature and the Humanities." Literature in English: A Guide for Librarians in the Digital Age Eds. Betty H. Day and William A. Wortman. Chicago: ACRL, 2000. 213-47.

Riesenman, C Patricia. "Databases: MLA International Bibliography (CD-ROM)." RQ: Reference Quarterly 28 (1988): 258-260.

Rutimann, H. "The MLA and The Computer." Scholarly Publishing 19 (1987): 18-23.

Rzepecki, Arnold N. Literature & Language Bibliographies from the American Yearbook, 1910-1919: The Predecessor of the MLA Bibliography. Ann Arbor: Pierian Press, 1970.

Salvaggio, Ruth. "Interpreting The MLA Bibliography." Scholarly Publishing 14 (1983): 363-68.

Satterwhite, Robb. "Subject Indexing and Creation of A Controlled Vocabulary: The MLA Bibliography and the MLA Thesaurus." In International Conference on Data Bases in the Humanities and Social Sciences. Ed. Robert F. Allen. Osprey, Florida: Paradigm Press, 1985: 209-17.

Saule, M. R. "User Instruction Issues for Databases in the Humanities." Library Trends 50.4 (1992): 596-613.

Schmolling, Regine. "Die MLA International Bibliogrphy auf CD-ROM: Erfahrungen mit neuen Datenbanktechnologien in den Geisteswissenschaften." Bibliotheksdienst 24.10 (1990): 1342- 1356.

Schou-Rode, Gorm. "Wilsondisc--MLAIB." Publications on English Themes 17 (1992): 92-112.

Schreiber, Klaus. "Rezension zur MLA International Bibliography." Zeitschrift fuer Bibliothekswesen und Bibliographie 30.4: (1983): 322-325.

Semmes, Harriet. "Searching the MLA International Bibliography: All, Nothing, or Something Between?" Reference & User Services Quarterly 40.3 (2001): 228-33.

Shaw, D. "Bibliographic Database Searching by Graduate Students in Language and Literature: Search Strategies, System Interfaces, and Relevance Judgments." Library & Information Science Research 17 (1995): 327-45.

------. "CD-ROM Interfaces for Information Retrieval: Heuristic Evaluation and Observations of Intended Users." In Proceedings of the Fourteenth National Online Meeting, 1993. Medford, New Jersey, Learned Information, Inc., 1993, p.371-7.

Evaluation of two WilsonDisc CD-ROM products, the MLAIB and Humanities Index, using heuristic evaluation and the observation of experienced users.

-----and C. H. Davis. "The Modern Language Association: Electronic and Paper Surveys of Computer-Based Tool Use." Journal of the American Society for Information Science 47 (1996): 932-40.

Shepard, Douglas H. "An Addition to Pownall: Predecessor to the MLA Bibliography." RQ 9 (1969): 22-23.

Shoff, Harry L. "Materials and Strategies for Literary Research in the Computer Age." Diss. Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 1987.

Siegfried, S. et al. "A Profile of End-User Searching Behavior by Humanities Scholars: The Getty Online Searching Project Report No. 2." Journal of the American Society for Information Science 44.5 (1993): 273-91.

Smith, G. D. "Literary Databases: Some Thoughts on Standards." Literary Research: A Journal of Scholarly Method and Technique 13.1 (1988): 5-12.

Stebelman, Scott D. "On-line Searching and the Humanities: Relevance, Resistance, and Marketing Strategies." In National Online Meeting. Proceedings--1981. New York, March 24-26, 1981. Comp. Martha E. Williams and Thomas H. Hogan. Medford, NJ: Learned Information, 1981: 443-543.

------."Research on African Writers: A Citation Count."Biblio-Notes: Issued by the English and American Literature Section of the Association of College & Research Libraries, a Division of the American Library Association No. 33 (Spring 1999).

------. "Retrieval Performance and Citation Characteristics of the MLA International Bibliography and the Annual Bibliography for English Language and Literature: A Comparative Study." The Journal of Documentation 56.2 (2000): 332-40.

------. "Vocabulary Control and the Humanities: A Case Study of the MLA International Bibliography." The Reference Librarian 47 (1994): 61- 78.

Stone, Sue. "Humanities Scholars: Information Needs and Uses." Journal of Documentation 38.4 (1982):

Sucre, Natalia. "Indexing and Searching Considerations for Interdisciplinary Studies: The Example of Women's Studies in the MLA International Bibliography.

Taft, Michael. "The Folklore Secton of the MLA International Bibliography." International Folklore Review: Folklore Studies from Overseas 2 (1982): 61-64.

Taylor, Archer. Problems in German Literary History of the Fifteen & Sixteenth Centuries Germantown: Periodicals Service Company, 1939.

Terbille, C. "Cheaper Than College?! CD-ROM Sources in the Humanities: A Crash Course." CD ROM World 8.5 (1993): 55-61

Tibbo, H. R. "Information-Systems, Services, and Technology for the Humanities." Annual Review of Information Science and Technology 26 (1991): 287-346.

Tollers, Vincent L. and Carole Stroud. "Is the MLA or MHRA Better?" RQ 13 (1973): 126-8.

Uchitelle, Daniel. "A Partnership Brings Improved Access to Folklore Scholarship." College and Research Libraries News 11 (1990): 1030-1032.

Describes the Cooperative Bibliography Project of the MLA and Indiana University designed to improve coverage of folklore in the MLAIB. Lists lack of access to materials needing indexing and lack of home institution support for field bibliographers as two shortcomings of the field system used by the MLA. Suggests that additional cooperative projects focusing on other subject areas be established to address these problems.

------. "Currency of Coverage in the MLA International Bibliography." Publishing Research Quarterly 14.1 (1998): 46-51.

The goal of the bibliography is to be both current and inclusive, including new materials while also searching for older materials. The nature of the production cycle, varation in staffing at the MLA and among field bibliographers, delays in journal publication, problems in finding issues all mean that some recent materials will not be added to that year's bibliography. During the years 1986-1995, current year coverage was between 54.6% and 62.9%. During this period, over 80% of material is indexed within two years of publication.

Wagner, E. "PsycINFO As A Source of Literary Criticism." Database 12.3 (1989): 70-71.

Discusses the usefulness of PsychINFO (PsychLIT) as a source for articles on the analysis of literary characters and on psychoanalytic literary criticism. Points out that many of the PsychLIT citations retrieved by literary searches are to titles not covered by the MLAIB.

Walker, G. "Searching the Humanities: Subject Overlap and Search Vocabulary." Database 13.5 (1990): 37-46.

Compares nine humanities databases available on Dialogue for overlap of subject coverage and effectiveness of search vocabularies. Reports that MLA and Arts & Humanities Search are the most interdisciplinary and offer the highest proportion of citations not available on the other databases. Recommends that both be used for any subject search in the humanities.

West, M. "Evaluating Periodicals in English Studies: Tell It in Gath If Ye Must, Young Men, But Publish It Not in Askelon." College English 41.8 (1980): 903-23.

Discusses publishing in English Studies and the proliferation of journals in the discipline. Questions the necessity of so many titles and their effectiveness in furthering scholarly communication. Refers to the MLA Directory for evidence of the increase in titles and the limitations on article length placed on authors.

White, William. "Whitman and the MLA Bibliography: Addenda, 1969." The Serif 8.1 (19 ): 18-20.

The editor of the Walt Whitman Review finds Whitman coverage in the 1969 MLAIB inadequate as fifty-two references which appeared in WWR did not appear in the MLAIB.

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Last Updated: 02/08

Subject indexing terms used in the MLA International Bibliography are drawn from the MLA Thesaurus, a set of controlled vocabularies developed by the MLA and continually revised and updated to ensure they represent current scholarly usage.  

MLA subject indexing increases the findability of materials across variations in article language or terminology. It also assists students and scholars in identifying authors, works, and scholarly terminology associated with their areas of research.

Descriptors and Indexing

The controlled vocabularies of the MLA Thesaurus include names of persons, titles of works, languages, groups, genres, stylistic and structural features, themes, sources, influences, processes, theories, and other related topics. As of 2016 the MLA Thesaurus contains over 520,000 names and 68,000 terms. 

Subject indexing in the MLA International Bibliography is provided by an in-house staff of subject experts (indexers or index editors) and by contributing scholars (field bibliographers). Indexers analyze the content of publications listed in the bibliographyin accordance with a contextual indexing and faceted taxonomic access system (CIFT).* 

In this system, in addition to assigning descriptors specific to the particular focus of the indexed publication, indexers also classify the publication within a hierarchical structure reflecting the broad facets of the disciplines it covers, such as: 

  • national literatures

  • language and linguistics

  • pedagogy and the profession (including rhetoric and composition)

  • general literature and dramatic arts (including film, radio, and television)

  • folklore

For example, an article discussing both Jane Eyre and Wide Sargasso Sea is indexed with terms indicating specific literary techniques, characters, themes, or other topics it discusses. The indexer also adds broad classifications such as “English literature,” “1800-1899,” “1900-1999,” “novel,” and the authors and titles discussed.

Classification places each publication within the overall structure of its discipline; indexing facets provide specificity. Does the publication discuss a particular theme, such as motherhood or race relations? Does it consider a literary technique (irony, allegory, etc.)? Is the author’s argument based on the theories of another scholar or does the author use a specific methodology, such as a pedagogical or psychological approach? The indexer strives to describe the material in more depth.

For researchers using the bibliography, this combination of classification and indexing facilitates the discovery of materials that address topics or themes within or across specific literatures, disciplines, time periods, genres, and so on. 

Thus a search on “Race and Middle English” returns items that discuss treatments of race across the time period, potentially unearthing authors or works the researcher may not have initially considered. Similarly, a search on “Mexican literature and short story” produces not only items that discuss short fiction in Mexican literature in general but also discussions of specific titles and authors within that genre and national literature.

Within national literatures, classification facets may include time period, genre, performance medium, literary groups and movements, individual authors and titles, and language (when it differs from that of the national literature discussed). Each broad classification has its own range of facets relevant to that particular area of study. 

Role Indicators

The MLA’s subject indexing also includes phrases that clarify relations between descriptors within or across facets, such as “treatment of,” “relationship to,” “influence of,” and “theories of.”

While these “role indicators” are not searchable on all vendor platforms, within each record display they provide context and nuance, creating a kind of miniabstract, as illustrated by the following samples of indexing strings:

  • Spanish literature, 1900-1999; García Lorca, Federico (1898-1936); “Oda a Walt Whitman”; poetry; treatment of Whitman, Walt (1819-1892); compared to Neruda, Pablo (1904-1973)

  • Language; theory of linguistics; sign theory; theories of Saussure, Ferdinand de (1857-1913); treatment in Derrida, Jacques (1930-2004)

  • Dramatic arts; film; Buñuel, Luis (1900-1983): Belle de jour (1967); treatment of sexuality; morality; compared to Ozon, François (1967-  ): Jeune & jolie (2013)

This helps researchers identify more precisely the materials that best suit their purposes.

The MLA International Bibliography is distributed to libraries as an electronic database by three different vendors, each of which offers its own interpretation of how best to implement subject indexing in support of researchers’ work. 

For tips on making the most effective use of subject indexing and the searchable MLA Thesaurus in your library’s version of the bibliography, please see our video tutorials.

*Before adopting the CIFT scheme in 1981, MLA bibliographers used a less detailed approach to classification, generally only noting the main concept of each article (e.g., American Literature -- 1800–1899 -- Hawthorne, Nathaniel; language -- bilingualism; ethnomusicology -- musical instruments).

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