Sijmen Tol - Faces of Brill

Team of the Linguistic Bibliograph

Position: Coordinator Linguistic Bibliography

Short job description:

Sijmen is the coordinator of the editing team of the Linguistic Bibliography, which consists of four members. A big part of his job is collecting data of linguistic publications and entering them into the content management system. Maintaining, and if possible, enlarging the network is really important. Sijmen also assists in the development of the technical site of the bibliography.

The Linguistic Bibliography and their bibliographers have a special position within Brill in that they are working directly with the content. “Scholarly publishing helps us to present the results of our work in an optimal way.” Sijmen says. “Brill is an inspiring environment for our work.”

How do you find all the information?

“Some publishers proactively send us information because they want their content to be indexed in the Linguistic Bibliography. Of course that’s the easiest way for us.” Sijmen says.

“On the other hand there are about 45 contributors all over the world and they are collecting data for their specific field or country. The largest part, more than half of what we publish, we collect ourselves. We have a large list of periodicals, which we scan each year.”

“We keep ourselves informed about monographs and new volumes. You also find information in catalogs and the Linguist List. That’s an important source. Now and then we are also going to libraries and there we find books that have not yet been included.”


What is the best part of your job?

“I enjoy being confronted, every day, with so many publications and so many languages. We do everything in English all the time, but sometimes you are confronted with 10 different languages in one day.” Sijmen says.

“Of course the subjects are not always interesting to me personally, but often they are. Because I am a linguist, I really want to know what’s going on in the field, and to keep up with new developments.”


Is the confrontation with so many different languages the most challenging as well?

“The biggest challenge is to stay updated on everything, simply because there is so much information. This involves being informed about what is published, while also keeping track of new developments on the platform.” Sijmen explains.


How did you become involved in publishing?

“30 years ago I was asked to take over the responsibility for a part of the Linguistic Bibliography. One of the editors left the Bibliography, and I was asked to take over the position” Sijmen says.”

“And seven years ago Brill bought the Linguistic Bibliography and took us with it.”


The Linguistic Bibliography is a standard reference work and has a tradition of sixty-five years. Can you explain it a bit further? What is the Linguistic Bibliography?

“The Bibliography is an online database and it is also published in print once a year. It gives metadata of publications in all branches of linguistics from all over the world and, depending on the facilities of subscribing libraries, direct access to the full text of publications.” Sijmen says.

“We are often asked ‘Why would someone need the Linguistic Bibliography when they have Google?’  The answer is we are similar to Google, but the major difference is that the Bibliography provides information that has greater relevance and is more specific.

Everything you find in our database is relevant for linguistics, whereas the user must sift through Google results and determine what might be relevant. Google results are also limited to what is available online, whereas in the Linguistic Bibliography, we also provide all references to print-only publications.” Sijmen explains.


What are the aims of the Linguistic Bibliography?

 “We offer information on a broad scope of scholarly work – as broad as possible, in fact –in a specific field.”


Who is the readership?

“Our readers are scholars and students, not necessarily in the field of linguistics, though linguists form the vast majority of our readership, of course.”


What are the plans for next year?

We are preparing a special issue with three or four volumes in Slavic linguistics for the years 2000-2014. They will be available online and in print. All data is in our database, so you can already find it. This issue will focus on the Slavic world. The Slavic languages take a great part in the Linguistic Bibliography. There will be 70.000 records in three volumes, in addition to an index in one volume. We expect this to publish in the summer of 2015.