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Digitisation of the IMB


Former Editor of the International Medieval Bibliography (IMB), Dr Simon Forde, joined the team in 1987 as an assistant to the then-editor, Katy Cubitt. He spoke to us about his memories of the digitalisation of the IMB.

Past Editions of the IMB.

Past Editions of the IMB.

‘I started working at the IMB in the summer and I was assistant to Katy Cubitt, who’d been Editor. At the time, it was the four of us – the Editor, a part-time assistant (which was me), and two secretaries. Katy instigated the change, but I don’t think it was up and running in her time. About a year after, she moved down to Oxford, and I became Editor. We had between 600 and 630 subscribers around the world, and we did all the subscriptions ourselves – our printers did all the dispatches, Maney and Company, who were in East Leeds. At the time, they were a small family business.

About 1990 or so, I was beginning to realise that for a bibliography, you needed to make it digital. Nowadays, you would say it would need to be online. Computing was starting to take off, and we started to think that we needed to make the bibliography available digitally on CD-ROM. We got the University IT Service to develop an input system, and from that system they would generate the IMB book. We went out to tender, and it was Brepols that won the bid. In 1992-93, we agreed a programme to input the data – we thought this would take five to six years.

In 1996-97, the IMB renegotiated our contract with Brepols, and now they publish both the printed book and the digital version.’