Library Technology Guides

Document Repository

Smart Libraries Newsletter

OCLC Acquires the Dutch ILS Provider HKA

Smart Libraries Newsletter [November 2013]


OCLC has acquired Huijsmans en Kuijpers Automatisering BV (HKA), a vendor of library automation systems in the Netherlands. This acquisition further expands OCLC's already extensive involvement with cataloging and discovery services in the Netherlands. It also brings another for-profit ILS company into its organizational structure and brings a new set of products into its portfolio of technologies.

Huijsmans en Kuijpers Automatisering Background.

HKA was founded in May 1983 by Hendrikus Kuijpers and Jozef Huijsmans. The company developed an integrated library system, known as bicat for public libraries in the Netherlands, based on the FoxPro relational database management system. Continually enhanced and re-engineered during its 30-year development history, bicat is now based on the MySQL database engine, with recent versions following the service-oriented architecture. The bicatWise integrated library system has been designed specifically for the needs of public libraries in the Netherlands and is not widely used in other countries. It is a mature and full-featured ILS that includes modules to help libraries manage their physical collections, including the integration with RFID self-service equipment and payment systems. It also supports the virtual library and integrates into a library's website, offering features such as user-generated content (such as tags, reviews, and ratings,) title carousels, and social media in addition to the standard online catalog capabilities.

In addition to its flagship bicatWise ILS, HKA also offers automation systems for school libraries (schoolWise). Its theaterWise helps organizations such as theaters manage events and issue tickets to support libraries that offer ticketed events. And payWise provides point-of-sale payment capabilities for its products. HKA offers Tristan, a self-service solution for public libraries, which was developed through a partnership with the Overijsselse Bibliotheek Dienst.

HKA Acquisition Details

Beginning October 1, 2013, OCLC through its OCLC EMEA BV division, holds 100 percent of the shares of HKA. Henk Kuijpers, Jos Huijsmans, and Paul Lucassen will continue as directors of HKA as it becomes part of OCLC. The value of the transaction has not been released, but is expected to be made available in OCLC's 2013/2014 Annual Report. The company's 29-person workforce will become OCLC employees.

The Dutch Library Automation Arena

In the Netherlands, libraries tend to automate through relative large-scale implementations, often through province-wide initiatives, large municipal systems, or in consortia. HKA leads the ILS arena, reporting that 66 percent of Dutch public libraries use bicatWise. Infor Library and Information Solutions is the next largest, supplying the Vubis Smart ILS as well as the Iguana portal for website management. A new company, CiBLIS, which is a spin-off of the Belgian company CIPAL BV, has recently begun to offer its Brocade ILS in the Netherlands, expanding from its established customer base in Belgium and South Africa.

There have been some recent transitions in ILS implementations among Dutch public libraries. The Bibliocenter consortium in the province of Limburg has recently selected Brocade to replace its current HKA bicatWise system. The Public Library of Rotterdam, with more than 25 branches, recently selected bicatWise to replace its OCLC Sunrise ILS.

OCLC EMEA Organizational Background

OCLC EMEA B.V. operates as a for-profit business wholly owned by OCLC, a non-profit organization headquartered in Dublin, Ohio. OCLC EMEA BV traces its origins to Stichting Pica, an organization initiated in 1969 by the National Library of the Netherlands and Dutch university libraries, to create a shared cataloging system. In 1999, the Pica Foundation established PICA BV, a for-profit company and sold 35 percent of its shares to OCLC in December 1999, another 25 percent in 2006, and the remaining 40 percent of the shares in July 2007. In January 2002 OCLC formed OCLC EMEA BV through a merger of PICA BV with OCLC Europe, Middle East and Africa division. OCLC owns 100 percent equity in OCLC EMEA BV, which currently operates six offices, primarily in the facilities of its acquired businesses and employs around 300 personnel (see OCLC EMEA BV owns 100 percent of OCLC BV, its operating company in the Netherlands.

According to financial reports obtained through Kamer van Koophandel Nederland (Chamber of Commerce of the Netherlands), OCLC EMEA brought in revenues of 35,723,563 in 2012, up from 30,702,384 reported for 2011.

OCLC ILS Involvement

Pica developed two major library automation platforms, the Central Bibliotheek Systeem (CBS) to support this centralized cataloging service in the Netherlands, which was subsequently implemented in other European projects and the Lokaal Bibliotheek Systeem (LBS), an ILS for individual libraries, library systems, or consortia. CBS has been implemented for projects such as the Libraries Australia, the ABES project for French Universities, and multiple implementations in Germany. LBS continues to be used by many academic libraries in the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe.

Beginning in the mid-2000s, OCLC PICA has expanded through the acquisition of a number of library automation companies:

  • June 2005: OCLC PICA acquired Sisis Informationssysteme, which offered the Sunrise ILS used in Germany, Austria, and other parts of Europe.
  • November 2005: OCLC PICA acquired Fretwell-Downing Informatics, a UK company that created the OLIB integrated library system, the OL2 link resolver, the VDX resource sharing platform, and other products.
  • September 2008: OCLC EMEA acquired the Australian company Amlib Pty. Ltd, which produced the Amlib ILS. April 2011: OCLC EMEA acquired BOND GmbH, a German company that created the Bibliotheca2000 and Bibliotheca.Net ILS used by many public libraries in Germany and neighboring countries.
  • October 2013: OCLC EMEA acquires HKA, whose bicat- Wise ILS is used by a majority of the public libraries in the Netherlands.

Through its original products and those of its acquired businesses, OCLC develops and supports seven major integrated library systems, and a variety of other products related to resource sharing, discovery, and other library functions. In addition to the support of these well-established products, OCLC has also developed the WorldShare Platform as the basis of its WorldShare Management Services (WMS), its newgeneration library services platform. The development for WMS is carried out in its European offices as well as in its Dublin, Ohio headquarters. Tilburg University in the Netherlands was one of the first European libraries to implement WMS. OCLC Services and Technologies in the Netherlands

OCLC EMEA has a very strong connection to libraries in the Netherlands with strategic involvement in a variety of automation and resource sharing initiatives. The organization originated and operates its headquarters in Leiden. OCLC technologies and services provide the infrastructure for the Dutch national cataloging environment, interlibrary loan, and the national union catalog. OCLC now takes on a major role in the ILS arena.

OCLC manages the Gemeenschappelijk Geautomatiseerd Catalogiseersysteem (GGC), the shared cataloging system in place since 1978 and originally developed by Pica. Libraries throughout the Netherlands rely on GGC for catalog records as they acquire items for their collections. The GGC operates on the CBS platform, and its records are also synchronized with the database.

OCLC is also involved with initiatives to create a national catalog for the Netherlands. In March 2010 contracted with OCLC to create a publicly available collective catalog for the Netherlands, called Nationale Bibliotheekcatalogus, or NBC. This initial project provided access to the collection of the national library, the academic libraries in the Netherlands, some special libraries, and 14 of the largest public libraries, representing about 80 percent of all of the titles available in the country. In this phase NBC was not a comprehensive national catalog because it did not include all the holdings of the 170 library services in the Netherlands.

In March 2012, the foundation that coordinates many of the activities of libraries in the Netherlands, signed a contract with OCLC to extend the collections represented in the Dutch Shared Cataloging System. Through this agreement, OCLC will extend the platform with the capability to include the holdings of all of the remaining public library collections. This new system includes a synchronization component that extracts and synchronizes the databases of the local ILS implementations with the GGC shared cataloging system. Data must be exported and synchronized from the ILS implementations of the library services throughout the country.

The synchronization requires cooperation and technical implementation by the developers of the local ILS implementations. HKA has completed the synchronization for libraries using its bicatWise ILS. Currently about 75 percent of the public library collections are synchronized with NBC. The full launch of the project has been delayed by a few months until January 2014 to accommodate the remaining libraries. This new generation of the national library catalog, known as NBC+, will also include a variety of digital collections of cultural heritage materials in addition to the extended GGC library collections. At its launch, NBC+ will include 28 million digital objects, though it is expecting to reach 35 million in subsequent phases. The catalog also will be enriched with content from a variety of other sources, including NBD/Biblion for book cover images and reviews and Centraal Boekhuis for summaries. The Public Library of Amsterdam will be the first library to test NBC+ and make it publicly available. (See:

The acquisition of HKA extends OCLC's position even further, now taking on the role as the provider of the library management systems used by 66 percent Dutch public libraries. In addition to the public libraries running the bicatWise ILS, the National Library of the Netherlands relies on OCLC's LBS Lokaal Bibliotheek Systeem for the management of its collection.

View Citation
Publication Year:2013
Type of Material:Article
Language English
Published in: Smart Libraries Newsletter
Publication Info:Volume 33 Number 11
Issue:November 2013
Publisher:ALA TechSource
Place of Publication:Chicago, IL
Company: OCLC
Subject: Mergers and Acquisitions
Record Number:21205
Last Update:2024-07-20 05:18:38
Date Created:2015-12-09 09:36:52