In the annual report of 1998 it was announced that Pica wanted to transform the Pica Foundation into a B.V. (a limited company under Dutch Law). After careful consultations with the Dutch universities, the Dutch public libraries and with Pica's foreign partners, Pica B.V. was founded on 1 October 1999.
Pica also announced that it would start discussions with OCLC Inc., an American non-profit company for library automation and information services, in order to come to a close cooperation.
At the end of December 1999, a contract between Pica and OCLC was signed in which it was agreed that OCLC acquired 35% of the shares in of Pica B.V. in 1999 and a further 25% of these shares in the year 2000. In the area of Pica's systems and services the year 1999 was a year of consolidation.
Pica's enduser services based on the PiCarta-system grew significantly and an enduser service called “Publiekwijzer” was successfully introduced, aiming specifically at Dutch public libraries.
The cooperation with the German Partners developed satisfactorily and updated contracts were signed with the Gemeinsamer Bibliotheksverbund (GBV) in Göttingen and with Die Deutsche Bibliothek (DDB) in Frankfurt. At the end of December 1999 Pica was also able to finish the second phase of the SU-project (Systčme Universitaire) which is carried out for the Agence Bibliographique l'Enseignement Supérieur (ABES) in Montpellier. In the year 2000 the third and fourth phases will be carried out. It can be concluded that in the year 1999, a number of important steps were taken in order to position Pica for a new era and to create a strong starting point for the next phase of its development.
Together with OCLC, Pica will continue to provide relevant and cost effective systems and services to European libraries.
Transformation of the Pica Foundation
During 1999 the Pica Foundation transformed towards a market-oriented, share-based company with the potential to expand its activities significantly in Europe. The realization of this transformation process occupied the management of Pica and part of its staff for a large part of their time. A significant effort was made to involve Pica's stakeholders: the universities, the university libraries, the Royal Library and the NBLC, the central organization for Dutch public libraries and Pica's foreign partners. Agreement was sought and reached with the central organizations Innovation of Scientific Information (IWI) set up by the Dutch universities and with the SURF Foundation.
During the whole process, Pica's works council played an important and constructive role. Three major changes were realized in parallel: the foundation was transformed into a limited liability company under Dutch law (into a B.V.), the rights of the Dutch users were safeguarded and the required changes in the internal organization were outlined.
On the first of October 1999 Pica B.V. was founded and the business activities of the Foundation were transferred into Pica B.V. which from then on continued these activities.
The Foundation continued to exist with changed statutes and had 100% of the shares in Pica B.V. The board of the Foundation now consists of six members in total: four appointed by the SURF Foundation (amongst which a representative of the Royal Library) and two appointed by the NBLC, the central organization for Dutch public libraries.
A new Foundation (Pica Database Foundation) was founded in order to keep all the intellectual property rights and the other rights on the Pica database safe and available for Dutch users.
The Pica Database Foundation has granted Pica B.V. an exclusive license for the use and further development of the database and for its exploitation within or outside the Netherlands for an indefinite period of time. Also an agreement was signed between the SURF Foundation and Pica B.V. in which Pica B.V. has given guarantees for the continued availability of Pica's national Information Infrastructure consisting of the Shared Cataloguing Services (GGC) and the Dutch Union Catalogue/Interlibrary Loan System (NCC/IBL).
In addition to the legal changes, Pica's management and staff, with the help of a consultancy company and with the involvement of the works council, set out to reorganize Pica B.V. in such a way that the new organization will better support Pica's goals and objectives. At the end of 1999 consensus was reached on the new organization and the necessary preparations were carried out. Full implementation of the new organization structure was planned for the first of April 2000. From that moment on Pica B.V. will be organized in three Business Units:
- A Business Unit called Pica IT Center responsible for software development, operations and support and other technical activities.
- A Business Unit called Pica Online Information Services responsible for the marketing, sales and functional support of Pica's enduser-oriented services layered around the PiCarta service and the “Publiekwijzer” service (for Dutch public libraries). The Business Unit Pica OIS will eventually address the whole European market, starting in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.
- A Business Unit called Pica Library Services responsible for providing services and systems to Dutch libraries especially for library management functions such as cataloguing, interlibrary loan, acquisitions, circulation control, etc.
In addition to these three Business Units a small team of central staff will be responsible for general management, financial aspects, legal aspects and personnel matters.
In the annual report 1998 it was announced that Pica was talking with OCLC, a non-profit organization in the field of library automation and information services established in Dublin, Ohio, USA.
During the year 1999 these discussions resulted in an agreement which was signed in December and concerned the buying of 60% of the shares of Pica B.V. by OCLC. This agreement thus creates a basis for close cooperation between Pica B.V. and OCLC for providing library and information services in Europe.
On 23 December 1999 the first part (35%) of the shares in Pica B.V. was transferred and during the year 2000 the second part (25%) of the shares will be transferred. During the period in which OCLC owns 35% of Pica B.V., OCLC will appoint one of the three members of the Supervisory board of Pica B.V. and after transfer of the full 60% OCLC will appoint two members of the Supervisory board. The Pica Foundation appoints the other member(s). After transfer of the full 60%, the Pica Foundation will appoint one member that for an agreed number of years will also be the Chairman of the board.
PICA Services and Systems
After an analysis had been made in 1998 of all of Pica's products and services regarding their millennium stability, the necessary software adaptations were made. They became available in January 1999.
In February an integrated test was carried out in cooperation with Dutch library representatives and with the help of the German partners.
On the basis of detailed testscripts, all of Pica's software was tested using a specially constructed test database for reference purposes. During a period of two weeks all vital functions of Pica's services on all supported platforms were checked. The first week was used to simulate the Y2K change and the second week was used to analyze data and to identify possible problems. In total six problems were identified of which four were Y2K-related. These problems were repaired in the new system versions that were delivered in the middle of 1999.
In cooperation with the libraries arrangements were made in order to be able to assist during the millennium weekend in case of calamities. Thanks to the efforts of a large number of Pica employees and library staff members, it was possible to conclude on 1 January 2000 that the crossover to the year 2000 was successfully completed without any of Pica's systems and services having shown errors and without calamities.
Contact with users
Consultation was sought from and advice was given by Pica's user committees and user councils concerning various aspects of the cataloguing service, among which guidelines for the cataloguing of Electronic Journals. Also Pica's new enduser-oriented services PiCarta and Publiekwijzer were subject of discussions with the user councils. Advisory committees both in the Netherlands and in Germany were involved in the definition of functionality and the interface design of Pica's new Local Library System: LBS-4.
In October Pica organized a successful conference in the Royal Library titled “It is content that matters”. Over 150 participants attended this one day conference which focused on electronic content for libraries. In November a special issue of Pica's newsletter “Pica Mededelingen” was issued in which the speeches of various speakers were published.
An extensive course program was presented with courses each quarter on various aspect of Pica's systems and services. The topics varied from the use of cataloguing services to the system management of local library systems. In total 23 courses were given for 135 attendees. Technical infrastructure During the year 1999 Pica upgraded its internal network in order to achieve a millennium proof infrastructure and an increased capacity. New routers and switches were installed and an upgrade towards 100Mb was realized. Also preparations were made to upgrade the external SURFnet connection from 4Mb to 8Mb but actual installation was postponed till after the millennium change for security reasons. In April 1999, Pica discontinued the support of X.25 connectivity and dismantled its X.25 capabilities after almost 17 years of service. On 1 October, Pica's direct dial-in facilities were dismantled, so from that moment on all communication with Pica's central system and the local systems took place on TCP/IP basis over the internet.
After a successful start with the PiCarta service for the Pica-members (the Dutch universities, the Royal Library and the Royal Academy of Arts and Science) in September 1998, the PiCarta-service was introduced in 1999 to institutions for Higher Education, non-profitorganizations and public libraries.
Many functional improvements were realized in PiCarta version 2, one of which is the ability to link title page images to title descriptions. A number of libraries have started a project in order to make title page images available through PiCarta.