AIP History Center Newsletter
Volume XXX, No. 1, Spring 1998


International Catalog of Sources and Niels Bohr Library Catalog Go Online

We are pleased to announce full online access to major catalogs of resources for the history of physics and allied sciences. The International Catalog of Sources and the Niels Bohr Library's Book Catalog can now be reached via the History Center's World Wide Web homepage at /history.

The online International Catalog of Sources for the History of Physics and Allied Sciences (Web ICOS) provides access to more than 5,000 records describing collections (papers of scientists, records of major institutions, oral history interviews, etc.) preserved in the Center's Niels Bohr Library and over 500 other repositories around the world. Going online marks a major milestone for the ICOS, which began in the early 1960s as a cardfile and has since evolved through several generations of in-house databases. Now users anywhere in the world can search the Web ICOS simply by entering the name of the person, institution, or topic. If we know that the personal papers or institutional records of the target are in a repository, ICOS provides a one-paragraph description of the collection's contents and the location. All the records are indexed, so a search can also turn up collections in which a person figured prominently as a correspondent, interviews with significant information on a given topic, etc. We have tried to make the search screens user friendly, but any suggestions for improvements are welcome. We hope to be able to add more sophisticated (key word and boolean) searching options over time. As another method of access, we continue to share records with the Research Library Information Network (RLIN), the Research Library Group's online catalog.

The Niels Bohr Library Book Catalog can also be searched online (by author, title, subject, or date). Although the library's books are not available for interlibrary loan, staff will photocopy pages at cost. The online catalog will also help scholars in their bibliographic work or when planning a trip to the library in College Park, MD.

The software for the Web OPAC (online public access catalog) was designed by Peter Wilkerson, Archivist at South Carolina Historical Society, specifically to run with Minaret, which is the MARC-standard cataloging software we use for both the ICOS and book cataloging. The library staff have worked closely with Peter to customize the Web interface where possible.

The Web ICOS does not yet contain all the records we have in our in-house Minaret database. We continue to receive new information through our semi-annual surveys of repositories, our preservation work, and our many contacts in science and archives. We also have a backlog of collection descriptions which we are cataloging; we hope to have this completed and added to the Web ICOS by the end of 1998. On request we will search our in-house ICOS, including all records not yet available via the Web catalog. Please contact Caroline Moseley ( or the library ( if you have any questions or comments about the ICOS online, or if you can provide information to add to the catalog. We trust that now we are online, people will find it easier to give us feedback on new or updated information.

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AIP History Center Center for History of Physics
Phone: 301-209-3165
American Institute of Physics 2003 American Institute of Physics, One Physics Ellipse, College Park, MD 20740-3843. Email: Phone: 301-209-3100; Fax: 301-209-0843