1997 was a successful year for Pica. The total turnover increased with 6,5% from over 12 million Dutch guilders to nearly 13 million and the operating income was Hfl. 678,948. It should be noticed that the end user oriented services in particular largely contributed to this increase. Income out of these services increased with 29% compared to 1996.
Pica strengthened its position on the European market. In September, a contract was signed with ABES (L'Agence Bibliographique de l'Enseignement Supérieur) in Montpellier, France, for the execution of the SU project which aims at implementing a central cataloguing service and services for interlibrary loan and document delivery for about 100 French university libraries. This project with a total value of over 47 million FF is executed in co-operation with Bull France SA.
Pica has been able to consolidate its position on the market of local library systems by taking a majority share in the new-founded company ALS International Limited, established in Stevenage, England. A close co-operation between ALSI and Pica in the area of software development for local library systems will bear its fruit in the years to come.
In 1997, Pica published its new strategic plan 1998- 2001, which states a policy that will take Pica and the participating libraries into the new millennium. In this strategic plan, an approach is outlined with the purpose of realising a quality jump in the area of end user oriented services along two roads. On the one hand, Pica will strain itself to create a total solution for the realisation of a operational virtual academic library. On the other hand, Pica's efforts are aimed at the development of service and system components that may be purchased by institutions as components and integrated in their own infrastructure.
In both cases, Pica's efforts will aim both at the expansion and improvement of infrastructure and at the acquisition of rights and the availability of content. Because the demands put on Pica in a rapid changing environment are getting higher and higher, two steps have been taken to further professionalize Pica's services and system development. Firstly, a department Productdevelopment has been set up. This department will be charged with planning the expansion and improvement of existing services and systems and with planning new ones. It is the intention that a small group of Productdevelopers will develop product and service specifications in close co-operation with libraries. Internally, they will act as a customer to the Development department.
Secondly, a Quality Management programme has been established. Procedures and guidelines have been developed and incorporated in Pica's quality manual. On this basis, the development and implementation process will be carried out. In the course of 1998, quality management will be introduced in the whole Pica organisation.
In 1997 the distinction between more classical services and systems for the support of library processes like GGC, NCC/IBL, Acquisitions, Storage and Lending and the services and systems aimed at end users like OBN, OpenCAT, WebOPC became more and more apparent. Next year, this distinction will increase and possibly lead to organisational adaptations.
For this reason, the distinction is also made in this report.