Background of FIAF's Periodicals Indexing Project (P.I.P.)


  • Before 1972 indexing of film journals had been a hit-and-miss affair. A few FIAF archives attempted to cover all the major titles, and they could only index selectively those in the less well-known languages. Many of the smaller archives indexed none at all. Every FIAF archive with ambitions to have a documentation service indexed some journals, usually the same ten or twenty of the best-known periodicals, as well as the most useful of their own national journals. It was obvious that there was wasteful duplication of effort and resources.
  • In 1971 it was Karen Jones from the FIAF Documentation Commission who presented the proposal to establish the P.I.P. at the FIAF Congress in Wiesbaden. Initially the service involved sending out batches of 10,000 cards to FIAF affiliates every year. Word got around and institutions outside FIAF began to request subscriptions. The decision was made to publish the data in annual volumes of the International Index to Film Periodicals, making it available to a much wider public, including libraries, academic institutions and individual researchers and students. Between 1979 and 1998 a limited number of TV periodicals were indexed in the International Index to Television Periodicals.
  • The P.I.P. has evolved a lot since the early days, of course. Looking at the P.I.P. timeline makes you realize how dramatically the world has changed. A survey of our publication methods is very revealing. The original card service (which involved sending out batches of 10,000 filing cards to subscribers) was replaced by microfiches in 1983. Ten years later the microfiches were in turn replaced by a biannual CD-ROM edition, containing not only the data from the International Index to Film Periodicals but also several other FIAF databases (Treasures from the Film Archives, International Directory of Film/TV Documentation Collections, and Bibliography of FIAF Affiliates’ Publications). In 2001 the indexing data was available for the first time on the Internet.
  • Cards, microfiches, CD-ROMs, and even the printed volume have now all disappeared. These days, quarterly online updates of the International Index to Film Periodicals are published as part of the FIAF Databases in collaboration with our partner publishers Ovid and ProQuest.

For more information see the P.I.P. dossier published in in the Journal of Film Preservation, no. 86, Apr 2012, on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the project.