Securing and maintaining the Bonn Online Bibliography for Comics Research (BOBC)
To the Dean of Philosophy and the Chancellor at Bonn University,
The Bonn Online Bibliography for Comics Studies (BOBC, https://www.bobc.uni-bonn.de) was launched in 2008 under the direction of Dr. Joachim Trinkwitz, research assistant at the Institute for German Studies, Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies at the Rheinische FriedrichWilhelms-Universität Bonn. Initially designed as a tool for teaching, it was later published online as a service for the research community. Since then, it has been continuously expanded under Trinkiwtz’ direction. Thanks to his tireless effort, it now offers more than 13,500 international entries for researcher in interdisciplinary comics studies. Particularly noteworthy is the rich indexing of all entries (the dynamically expanded keyword catalogue now includes almost 4,800 entries, each in English and German), made possible by Dr. Trinkwitz’ decades of expertise and interdisciplinary knowledge.
The BOBC has become an irreplaceable, unique resource for international comics studies: it is a central point of reference for this growing field. It is acknowledged well beyond the German-speaking world by renowned researchers as well as international institutions of comics research, who regularly use it and recommend it to young academics (see also the attached research report by Prof. Dr. Bart Beaty and Prof. Dr. Benjamin Woo from the Universities of Calgary and Carleton, Canada). Every month, up to 150,000 database queries and hundreds of individual page views are counted by visitors from all over the world (18% of whom come from the USA and Canada). The bibliography has become an indispensable tool not only in German studies, but also in art and media studies, cultural studies and multimodal linguistics, as well as for many other philologies – such as American studies, English studies, Romance studies, Scandinavian studies, and Japanese studies – which we can no longer conceive their teaching and research into comics without this tool. Recently, even representatives of seemingly more remote disciplines such as medicine, religious studies/theology, and geography have become users of the bibliography.
The German Society for Comics Studies (ComFor e.V.) has been supporting the BOBC for almost a decade with regular sums from its membership fees to finance student staff positions for the initial recording of the ever more rapidly growing number of relevant new publications in our research fields. In order to maintain this indispensable resource, however, beyond this continuous technical labour, there is the need for constant indexing, coherence checking, and qualitative data control, for which an experienced colleague such as Dr Trinkwitz is needed.
In order to secure the future of this important resource even after the imminent retirement of our esteemed colleague, we therefore turn to the University of Bonn and its Faculty of Philosophy with two urgent questions in particular:
- 1) How can the technical infrastructure for the BOBC be secured?
The BOBC is currently running on a server of the Bonn Institute under the open source database software “WIKINDX”, which is currently maintained steadily and with commitment, but only through the efforts of a few individuals worldwide. Sooner or later, therefore, it will be necessary either to make a switch to a more expensive alternative database system that is professionally maintained, or to set up a (half-time) IT and information technology position that can continue to update and maintain WIKINDX.
- 2) How can the professional maintenance of the BOBC be secured?
Quality control, maintenance, and indexing of new entries require the continued work of a fully employed academic at no less than postgraduate level. Additional support by auxiliary staff for data entry can still be ensured through partner institutions such as the German Society for Comics Studies. We would therefore like to invite you to enter into a dialogue with the German Society for Comics Studies to discuss these needs in order to ensure the continued availability of this internationally and interdisciplinarily renowned research resource at the University of Bonn.
Dr. Joachim Trinkwitz for the BOBC
PD Dr. Christina Meyer, Dr. Lukas R.A. Wilde and Dr. Vanessa Ossa
for the Society for Comics Research (ComFor)
Working Group BOBC within ComFor:
Nicolas Gaspers (Düsseldorf),
PD Dr. Christina Meyer (Braunschweig),
Prof. Dr. Stephan Packard (Köln),
Dr. Joachim Trinkwitz (Bonn),
Dr. Lukas R.A. Wilde (Tübingen)