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National Library of Australia awards major contract for national system

Press Release: ELiAS N.V. [19 January 1998]

Copyright (c) 2000 ELiAS N.V.

Abstract: The National Library today affirmed its commitment to the national sharing of library resources with the announcement that it has awarded the contract for the nation''s new bibliographic system to IBM Australia and IBM Global Services Australia.

The National Library today affirmed its commitment to the national sharing of library resources with the announcement that it has awarded the contract for the nation's new bibliographic system to IBM Australia and IBM Global Services Australia (IBM GSA).

Based on AMICUS software, the new system will provide significant benefits to nearly 1400 libraries and all who use them.

Large, dynamic and flexible, the AMICUS integrated library management system is in use in the National Library of Canada and has just been purchased by the British Library and the National Library of Hungary. The key subcontractors are ELiAS of Belgium and CGI of Canada, who together share marketing and development rights for AMICUS.

IBM GSA will supply hardware, software, data migration and IT support services to the Library to ensure the successful implementation and operation of the new system. The $13.8 m contract is for 6 years and the system is expected to be in operation throughout Australia within a year.

Librarians will use AMICUS to search, create, retrieve, manage and share bibliographic information on the massive volume and wide range of materials held by the libraries of Australia. This material includes books, magazines, pictures, maps, CDs, newspapers, sound recordings, oral histories and computer files. Collectively known as the National Bibliographic Database (NBD) and currently operated through the Australian Bibliographic Network (ABN) service, this invaluable national asset contains over 13 m bibliographic records and 27 m holding statements showing locations in Australian libraries.

The new networked library service will replace the highly successful ABN service, developed in the 1970s and now due for replacement because of 'Year 2000' problems and other shortcomings assessed as technologically impossible to resolve. As with ABN the new system will be funded by service charges.

AMICUS will provide modern interfaces to the national database, and a wide range of options to customer libraries in how they wish to use or contribute to the national system. Because the new system is based on international standards it will facilitate the transition to an open and distributed library system in the future.

Announcing the agreement, National Library Director-General, Warren Horton, said:

Australian libraries operate in a highly cooperative resource sharing environment. The Library's establishment of the ABN network in 1981 was a ground-breaking cooperative computer network which gave the library community a new model for accomplishing national tasks. The new system, as its successor, will become the backbone of our capacity to provide immediate access to the knowledge stored in our libraries, well into the 21st century. We are delighted to have IBM as partners in this venture.
For information, interviews and images contact: Gay Woods, Director, National Library Corporate Communications on (02) 6262 1252 email

Briefing and background notes for editors

When fully implemented the networked service will offer:

  • Ability to support up to 1000 concurrent users and to handle up to 15 m authority and bibliographic records. (It is a measure of its flexibility that the British Library implementation will support twice that number of users and records.)
  • Online searching across a single integrated database with options to search specific subset/catalogue files.
  • World Wide Web search interfaces.
  • Z39.50 search and retrieve access to/from external database hosts for copy cataloguing.
  • High level of compliance to version 3 of the Z39.50 standard, including use of Extended Services for product extraction and delivery.
  • Full screen editing incorporating full Windows text-editing features in the AMICUS cataloguing client software.
  • Full UNICODE support is planned.
  • Index updating fully available by the start of the next working day at the latest.
  • Records available for bibliographic products within 24 hours.
  • Superior capabilities for duplicate record detection and resolution.

The National Library

The National Library in Canberra is the nation's largest library. It has always exercised a national leadership function and provides a wide range of infrastructure services underpinning the Australian library community. The approval of the Minister for Communications, the Information Economy and the Arts, Senator Richard Alston, for the Library to enter into the contract with IBM Australia concluded the tender process commenced in January 1997.


The AMICUS automated library package was developed jointly by the National Library of Canada and CGI Information Systems and Management Consultants Inc. The system has been especially tailored to meet the needs of national libraries, not only for the core bibliographic applications, but also for the acquisitions, serials control and circulation applications that are being developed. The AMICUS system is robust and can handle very large amounts of bibliographic data and manage union catalogues. AMICUS has new releases scheduled through 2000, increasing the functionality of the system; the NLA's agreement with IBM allows us to take up these new releases. Over 100 person years of development have been invested in AMICUS.

View Citation
Publication Year:2000
Type of Material:Press Release
Language English
Issue:19 January 1998
Publisher:ELiAS N.V.
Place of Publication:Heverlee, Belgium
Company: ELiAS N.V.
Products: Amicus
Libraries: National Library of Australia
Online access:
Record Number:8029
Last Update:2012-12-29 14:06:47
Date Created:0000-00-00 00:00:00