Improved services for end-users
During 1996, the services for end-users were substantially improved and expanded. The Open Library Network's infrastructure became available through the World Wide Web and the number of databases available within the OBN increased steadily. As a result, library users can search their library's own catalogue as well as many other library catalogues and online databases in a structured manner. A number of databases also contain an integrated facility for document delivery. By the end of 1996, the OBN menu contained approximately 40 databases for the End-user to choose from. Both the OBN/2-project, financed by the SURF Foundation, and the project ‘Enduser access through the Web', financed by the IWI Steering Group, contributed to the realization of the improved services.
National coverage NCC/IBL
The Steering Group IWI (innovation of scientific information supply) which acts under the SURF Foundation, played an important role in the realization of national coverage of the collections of university libraries within the Netherlands Central Catalogue NCC. As a result of an IWI-project, covenants on that subject were signed with the universities of Delft and Wageningen to the effect that the libraries of the Technical University Delft, the Technical University Eindhoven and the Agricultural University Wageningen allow addition of their monograph titles to the NCC. Pica will integrate this information in the NCC-database. This will not only enhance the NCC/IBL-infrastructure, but it will also considerably improve Pica's services to end-users for finding and direct ordering of documents. It was agreed with the Agricultural University Wageningen that they would participate in the GGC, which means an important contribution to the size and quality of the GGC-database.
Within 1996, WebDOC became operational as an experimental service. On February 1st, the periodicals published by Wolters Kluwer Academic Publishers became available for the participants within the WebDOC-project through WebCAT. Due to financial support by the IWI Steering Group, to Pica as well as to the Dutch participants within the project, a lot of progress was made and the electronic library that WebDOC creates began to take shape. The agreement Pica concluded with Academic Press in 1996 meant an important extension, as approximately 175 periodicals became available in the WebCAT-database.
Local Library System LBS
In order to obtain more efficiency in the further development of the Local Library System and to acquire a better market position, the majority of the shares of the British firm Automated Library Systems Ltd ALS were bought. On September 5th, the sale of the shares was concluded. As a number of large problems occurred afterwards, it is expected that the set targets will be achieved after the year 1996, after a restart with ALS International Ltd.
Change of governmental structure
As a consequence of consultation with the IWI Steering Group, the governmental structure of Pica was changed. With the SURF Foundation a covenant was concluded in which the outline of the new structure was laid down as were the intentions regarding each other's position and activities. On September 9th 1996, new statutes came into effect which meant a change of Pica's name, ‘Foundation Centre for Library Automation Pica' to ‘Pica Foundation', established in Leiden. The former Board of Governors of the Foundation was transformed into a Supervisory Board with a more distant, businesslike task, whereas the director forms the Board of the Foundation Pica.
Consultation with users
It was decided in 1996 to alter the consultative structure of Pica with its users of the various services fundamentally, as from 1997. The old structure dated from the eighties, during which the diverse Pica systems separately determined the basis for consultation. Due to the increasing integration of the Pica services, it became essential to look at the systems in context and mutual coherence. The decision to alter the consultative structure was taken by mutual agreement with the libraries themselves. Pica continues to put a high value on consulting with users. After all, the basic idea to cooperate and to develop new functionality for and in close consultation with libraries is an important pillar of Pica's success.
The Gemeinsamer Bibliotheksverbund GBV that came formally into being in 1996, after the databases of the Norddeutscher Bibliotheksverbund and those of Göttingen in Niedersachsen had already been joined together in 1995, is developing - just like Pica did - from a shared cataloguing system into a strongly End-user orientated service organization. Besides, the online interlibrary loan increased considerably. Together with the Hessischer Bibliotheksverbund and within the DBV-OSI project with Die Deutsche Bibliothek an effort was made to gain access to each other's databases and to deliver the requested documents. As a next step, preparations are made for international connections.
Expansion into France
In 1996, Pica reacted to a call for tender of the French Agence Bibliographique de l'Enseignement Supérieur ABES for the automation of all French university libraries (the Système Universitaire), more than 300 in all. In November 1996, Pica sent its final tender in co-operation with the French computer firm Bull. In this tender, Pica is responsible for the central software and Bull is responsible for the installations and the hardware. Shortly after the year under review, it was announced that this joint tender was judged to be the best. As an important argument it was put forward that Pica does not only offer a hardware and software system, but also that by interconnecting the central Pica systems in the Netherlands, Germany and France, the foundation is there for intensive professional co-operation between the participating libraries on the European level. Thus, Pica will be able to develop a real European ‘network of networks'.