In 2000, the transformation process that had been started in 1998 was finished. On 1 October 2000 a second part of 25 % of the shares of Pica B.V. were transferred by Pica Foundation to OCLC Online Computer Library Center, Inc. (OCLC), which made OCLC majority shareholder with 60 % of the shares of Pica B.V.. Pica Foundation owns the other 40%.
In the second half of 2000 planning for integration of the European activities of OCLC, OCLC Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) in Birmingham, UK and Pica B.V. began. The goal is to form a single “European Regional Organization” from which OCLC and Pica will operate in the European market with one European look. The actual integration is expected to occur on 1 January 2001.
Also in 2000, the reorganization of Pica into three Business Units was put into effect and in the course of the year three directors to run these three Business Units were recruited. They were employed by Pica in April, May and November.
In an operational sense the year started with some uncertainty because of the start of the new millennium. Thanks to extensive preparations and the efforts of staff both of libraries and of Pica the transition to 2000 went smoothly without any problems for Pica as well as for her Partners.
In the year 2000 a considerable amount of time was spent on the following 4 activities: LBS4, GUM, ABES and PiCarta International.
The development of the new Local Library System LBS4, the successor of the present LBS3 system made good progress although it took more time than expected. At the end of 2000, the last phase of development was completed, and emphasis of the efforts shifted to the implementation.
The GUM project (Guardian to Unix Migration) involves the migration of the central Pica system from the Tandem platform to a Unix environment. In the year 2000 good progress was made, and Pica cooperated with the developers at OCLC, in particular with regard to the migration of offline functionality. After extensive performance and functionality tests the Unix-based system will be made operational in the second half of 2001.
After that, the German Partners will also migrate from Tandem to Unix so that considerable cost reductions will be realized, especially in depreciation and maintenance. The third activity was the development of the central system for cataloging, interlibrary loan and end- user access for the French ABES organization. After very extensive and detailed user tests and a pilot done with seven libraries, the system was accepted in December. The period of deployment, during which the system will be implemented with 112 French academic libraries, started on 1 January 2001 and will run until 1 April 2002.
The fourth activity concerned the further development and introduction of the international version of PiCarta, “PiCarta International”. PiCarta International offers access to high-quality information by means of an innovative and powerful search engine with a wide range of transparent and flexible search possibilities. The basis of the information is formed by a catalog with the holding data of important European library collections, called “EUCat”. Enriched with tables of contents and abstracts, links to full text and internet sources and extra options for the end user (ILL and SDI accounts, personal profiling etc.) this service will be the key to the European success of Pica Online Information Services. At the end of 2000, the new service was presented to Dutch and German libraries. It is expected that the actual operationalization will take place in the first half of 2001.
All in all, Pica can look back upon a good year in which the majority of objectives were realized and in which a basis was laid for future successes.
PICA SERVICES AND SYSTEMS
ONLINE INFORMATION SERVICES
The use of PiCarta in the Dutch libraries boomed. In 1999, searches totaled 480,000. In 2000, the number of searches tripled to a total of 1,365,000. Pica also paid special attention to the presentation of the PiCarta service. On 25 September, a meeting was organized at the Royal Library which had a varied program with speakers from EBSCO, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, libraries and Pica. 182 participants were reported. Moreover, in 2000, presentations were held during the “Day of the Document”, for the Dutch academic libraries UKB, for large public (WSF) libraries and during the Online Conference in April in Rotterdam. The PiCarta concept was also shown abroad, during the “Deutsche Bibliotekartag” in March in Leipzig, the Online Conference in London and during a meeting of German libraries in November in Berlin. The result was a large number of new customers both in the Netherlands and Flanders. In addition to further penetration in the market sector of Colleges of Higher Education, the Ministries and other non-profit organizations, there were also successes in the profit sector. For Public Libraries in the Netherlands, Pica developed a special portal in which PiCarta was included, called “Publiekwijzer”. After a promising start in 1999 the success of Publiekwijzer continued in the year 2000.
Apart from a number of functional improvements a new version of the Question and Answer database was developed and implemented and a link to OCLC's WorldCat was realized. The Advisory Body for Public Libraries was established; this consultative body for large customers of Publiekwijzer supports Pica and advises on the further development of Publiekwijzer. At the end of 2000 nearly all Public Libraries in the Netherlands were connected to Publiekwijzer.
Good progress was made with the further development of PiCarta and Publiekwijzer. In the middle of 2000, an international Steering Committee was formed consisting of representatives of OCLC EMEA, GBV and Pica (OIS and ITC) with the assignment to prepare the development of an international version of PiCarta. This new version, which will become operational in 2001, will not only give access to the Dutch Central Catalog (NCC) but also to the central catalog of GBV and after that also to catalogs of important European libraries. All these catalogs will be integrated into one European catalog in such a way that users in different regions will have their own ‘window' to the database. The individual collection of the library will be shown, the collection of the libraries in the own region, and finally, the collections of libraries in other regions. In addition to providing facilities for making reservations in their own library and interlibrary loan in their own region, the new version of PiCarta will also enable interlibrary loan services to extend beyond the boundaries of individual regions.
By linking to OCLC WorldCat, which was realized on 4 September for all PiCarta customers, and a connection to and from on each other's ILL systems which will be realized in 2001, a world-wide ILL service will be a possibility. In the area of “Content”, important agreements were made with OCLC and external database suppliers in order to enrich the European catalog with tables of contents, abstracts and full text, in the form of links to full text servers and links to internet sources. The base package that will be offered in PiCarta International will consist of: EUCat, Online Contents, complemented with the data from OCLC ContentsFirst, OCLC ArticleFirst, abstracts from different sources, OCLC NetFirst and a Z39.50 link to OCLC's WorldCat. Next to this base package, the customer will get to choose from a number of supplements of external database suppliers. In 2000, a start was made with establishing price and licensing principles of PiCarta “Content”, in close cooperation with OCLC in Dublin (US).
Finally, in 2000, all databases, among which the Dutch financial journal “Het Financieele Dagblad”, Pascal of INIST and the Academic Search database of EBSCO were brought under the new PiCarta interface.
Local Library System
Throughout the year 2000 a lot of work was done on the development of the new LBS4 system that will be the successor of the LBS3 system that is presently in production. After the LBS4 system is completed in 2001, the libraries that will implement the new system will have at their disposal a state-of-the-art local library system that is based on advanced Web technology and that makes use of a Web browser as user interface. The system has been developed using the ‘fourth generation programming language' Powerbuilder by which a high degree of flexibility is realized. LBS4 makes use of standards like HTML, XML, HTTP, Z39.50 and SQL.
On 7 March the first LBS4 contract was signed with the Free University in Amsterdam. This does not involve a migration from an existing LBS3 system to a LBS4 system but a migration of a non-Pica local library system to LBS4. Experiences show that this is a complex path and that the migration leads to changes that encroach deeply on the organization of the library. It is expected that the implementation will take place in the course of the year 2001.
During the year 2000 the new web-based Online Public Access Catalog module OPC4 was submitted to extensive user tests in the university library of Groningen as well as in that of Nijmegen. In close cooperation with these libraries in Groningen and Nijmegen a new training module for end users was also developed. The new OPC4, including the changes resulting from the tests, will be implemented in 2001 in the Netherlands as well as in Germany. OPC4 can function fully with the existing OPC3 module as well as with the OPC4 module so that the implementation of OPC4 can be regarded as a step in the migration of LBS3 to LBS4.
In the past period the consultation of users took place in a number of ways. In April and December user days were organized in which the progress of the various LBS4 modules were demonstrated ‘live', and these meetings were attended by many visitors. The LBS user council regularly discussed practical operational affairs and initiated preparations for the new product. In the report year the service “Remote Systems Management”, operational since 1996, was renewed and expanded. LBS customers can have their system administration run remotely by Pica, where it is in reliable hands. The number of customers has meanwhile grown to six. On the customers' systems specially developed software is installed with which the system is checked every hour according to plan. Staff of the department Operations & Support of Pica Information Technology Center get these status reports automatically by e-mail and they act whenever necessary.h4p>LIIS
The transition of Pica Foundation to Pica B.V. has amongst others led to the installation of the LIIS, the Advisory Body for the National Information Infrastructure. The LIIS advises about the Pica service with regard to NCC/IBL (Dutch Union Catalog/ ILL) and GGC (Shared Automated Catalog), called the “National Information Infrastructure”. Apart from the national ILL coordinator, the members are representatives of the academic libraries UKB, of the NBLC association for Public Libraries and of other libraries. In 2000, the Advisory Body met twice and discussed the quality of the central database and the rearrangement of tasks between the Royal Library and Pica regarding NCC/IBL.
The developments of the central Pica system were most of all aimed at the migration of the Tandem platform to a Unix environment which will be put into effect in the second half of 2001. With the realization of this project, the renewal of the technical basis of the National Information Infrastructure will be completed. The renewed central system, together with an improved connectivity by the upgrade for a SURFnet connection to 8 Mb in 2000 and possibly to 1 Gb in 2001, will offer the users an improved service with an improved response time and increased flexibility.
Regarding the use of the GGC system in the Netherlands it can be remarked that a slightly decreasing tendency in use can be observed. In 2000, participating libraries processed 1,176,913 publications in the GGC, which is about 10 % less than in 1999. This is not surprising in view of the fact that a number of large university libraries are gradually ending their extensive retrospective cataloging activities. It is foreseen that this decreasing tendency will continue after which a stabilization is expected.
With regard to Interlibrary Loan (ILL) a slight increase of use can be observed. The number of ILL requests that is entered directly by the end users themselves increases significantly but the entry by library staff shows a decreasing tendency. The agreement of the university libraries with Elsevier, which means that the full text of about 1200 academic journals will become available electronically to all end users of universities, will certainly have a decreasing effect on ILL in the Netherlands.
In this year also, an extensive program of courses was presented with courses about different aspects of Pica's services and systems every quarter. In total 26 courses were given with a total of 106 participants.
The cooperation with our German Partners, GBV (Gemeinsamer BibliotheksVerbund), HEBIS (Hessischer BibliotheksVerbund) and DDB (Die Deutsche Bibliothek) was one of the central themes of the report year 2000. The growth in use of Pica's systems continued in 2000. The use of the central system of GBV increased further by the connection of a number of special libraries and most of all by the cataloging activities, started at the end of 1999, of the “Staatsbibliothek Preussischer Kulturbesitz” in Berlin. In January 2000 the GBV service Search and Order started using PSI, the Pica Search and Index Engine. In the area of GBV, 26 local library systems are presently installed with in total more than 120 library catalogs.
Also in January, the Deutsche Bibliothek made the German “Zeitschriften Datenbank” online available with the aid of Pica's Search and Index Engine (PSI). This database contains more than 750,000 titles of journals with holdings of all German libraries. In 2000 the partners in Hessen (HEBIS) put into use the ILL module for interlibrary loan between the connected libraries in Hessen and Rheinland-Pfalz.
Also in 2000, a start was made with strategic cooperation on the area of further development of Pica's professional services. To that end, the Product Management Board (PMB) was called into being. Directors and staff that have product responsibility of DDB, GBV and HEBIS discuss with their colleagues from Pica Library Services and Information Technology Center the new releases of the central and local library systems. This consultation results in a plan of action for Pica for the coming years. Every half year, the PMB meets to discuss the medium term period and to set new strategic directions. In order to keep track of the progress and development there is a meeting every quarter with developers and technical support staff of the Partners and Pica in the Cooperative Development Board. The advantage of this renewed structure is that the professional services get an actual European character that is necessary for further international growth.
In 2000, a considerable effort was made to complete the developments of the central Pica system for ABES and the French university libraries. The developments will for a large part also benefit Dutch libraries that use GGC and/or the NCC/IBL system. In particular, functionality was developed with regard to:
- menu-driven cataloging
- newly-developed online help through web pages in HTML format
- advanced linking with industry standard management information software (Business Objects)
- all metadata that refer to libraries themselves have been incorporated in an online thesaurus, integrated with other bibliographical information and can be searched as a separate database.
- the possibility to enter provisional ILL requests, which have to be approved by the user's own library before they are sent on.
- cataloging of electronic resources.
For the final acceptance more than 1,250 test scripts were developed which were each run a number of times. Finally, the system was accepted on 14 December 2000 and phase 4 could start: within one and a half year, 112 French university libraries will migrate from their present networks to the “Système Universitaire”.
PICA INTERNAL MATTERS
In the year 2000 the reorganization of Pica's activities in three Business Units was put into effect. The services and products that are aimed at professional users like cataloging services and local library systems will be offered and supported from the Business Unit Library Services. The end user-oriented services (PiCarta, Publiekwijzer) are offered and supported by the Business Unit Online Information Services. The Business Unit Information Technology Center (ITC), finally, is in charge of the technical support and development for the benefit of the two other Business Units and of Partners.
At the end of 2000, Pica had again a complete Works Council consisting of five members. Just as last year a considerable amount of time was spent on the reorganization in Business Units and relations with OCLC.
The problems with RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) remain a matter of concern and in the year 2000 again professional information was given and a considerable investment was made in new PC's with flat screens, new chairs and adapted desks. Also, a software tool was implemented that helps staff keep good working methods. In 2000 a start was made with the revision of the Terms of Employment.
On 31 December 2000, Pica employed 71 persons, (67 fte), 50 male (70%) and 21 female (30%). 13 staff members (5 male and 8 female) left Pica. 18 new staff members (10 male, 8 female) were appointed. Because it was difficult to fulfill all vacancies, a number of people was hired externally from employment and posting agencies: on 31 December, 15 temporary staff were hired externally.
The average age of the personnel employed by Pica at 31 December was 41; the average number of years of employment 7.6.