Carswell’s index changes forms


May 16, 2013 - 12:00 AM

Roger Carswell created the Kansas Periodical Index in 1984, giving researchers and readers an easier way to find information. This year his index is changing from book form to online-only.
“This will probably outlive me,” Carswell said. “It’s still as useful today as it ever was.”
The index has been published in book form since 1984. Carswell first began the index as “something to do” during the summers when he was working for the school district in Wellington.
He then moved to working in a public library.
“I haven’t had a free summer since,” Carswell said.
Originally the index, which was the first of its kind in Kansas, was categorized by subject alone.
Today, the index enables users to search by keyword, author, date and subject through all of Kansas’ seven periodicals, including the popular Kansas! magazine and the Kansas Government Journal.
One of the reasons for moving to an online-only format is the reduction in periodicals. When Carswell began the project almost 30 years ago, he was referencing 16 journals. The index was published by Reference Press out of Canada.
“There wasn’t good access to material,” Carswell said of the periodicals in Kansas back in the 1980s.
One may think that he would miss the romantic notion of having his own physical print publication. That couldn’t be further from the truth. He reminisced about lugging papers, books and magazines to and from the post office and his office.
“It’s a relief,” he said. “I’m going to be glad to be done with that.”

THE ELECTRONIC index will have myriad improvements, Carswell said, and makes the publication process different as well.
The periodicals can be searched online through the Kansas Public Library website making the process much easier for people seeking out specific articles on specific subjects. In addition to convenience, Carswell said he will be able to update the index organically as he receives information, not just once a year in a publication.
The state of Kansas reimburses Carswell for his information, which gives the public access to his index. He has also sold individual copies of the index as well, in addition to the standing orders from Kansas libraries across the state. While he said he does not receive much compensation from the publication, it has provided some “supplemental income” over the years.
He downplayed the fact that he has created something truly unique in the state, but admitted that it is nice to hear positive feedback from people who use the index — especially at the various public library conferences he attends.
“It’s just something useful that I do,” Carswell said.
The Kansas periodical index can be accessed online at, under the “Explore our Resources” tab.

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