“AMICUS” is the name of the new software for the management of the Trento automated cataloguing system, which the Council finalised approval for today. By choosing AMICUS, the Council has taken the first step in approving the proposal presented by Claudio Molinari, the Alderman of culture – to implement an investment plan for culture for the year 2000.
It is anticipated that the library sector, and more generally the entire cultural life of Trento is about to have its foundations shaken by this mini “revolution”. This step fits in with the complex process of reorganising the entire cultural sector, initiated by the competent provincial court of Aldermen, through the adaptation of a unique and integrated “Information System for Culture” as it is called.
In the past, information was created and made accessible within each cultural domain. Several cultural institutions including museums, archives, libraries, associations etc. jointly urged for the necessity of centralising the diverse information points. Following an integrated approach, Trento will create a common cultural network, dispersing all cultural and scientific knowledge in a user-friendly way.
The “old” software “DOBIS/LIBIS” resisted all emerging technologies for some 20 years, partly due to the proposed enhancements noted by the same group of librarians. This software will be replaced as it is insufficient in todays high-tech environment which offers functions and services that could not even have been dreamt of in the seventies. Hence the necessity to update the software for the management of the Trento automated cataloguing system and replace it with the most current technology available today – AMICUS.
The idea to install a unique, centralised cataloguing system of the bibliographical patrimony of the Trento libraries originated in 1981, when the Province decided upon a model for the Trento library catalogue system. This organisational model for the co-operation and integration of resources aimed to replace the fragmented separate paper catalogues previously used and the chosen software for the new model was DOBIS/LIBIS.
The DOBIS/LIBIS story is one filled with many important figures. In almost 20 years the Trento Bibliographical Cataloguing System has managed to extend a network of 140 seats belonging to 110 Trento libraries, featuring the following most prestigious cultural institutions: the Università di Trento, for example and the Istituto trentino di cultura, the Biblioteca comunale di Trento and the Biblioteca civica di Rivoreto. Through the years a database was developed that contains up to 900,000 bibliographical data and that refers to 2,000,000 physical items: not only books, but also magazines, partitions, videotapes and CD-ROMs. It is a rich database with much input over time. At first it was accessible via Telnet thanks to the co-operation of the University and later it became available over the web: at present it is available through the address inocultura.net, under the Catalogue entry.
The new software “AMICUS” was first introduced in 1995 in the National Library of Canada, and was later adopted by important international institutions such as the British Library and for Italy the Università LUISS in Rome. The first European presentation of the product is said to have taken place in Trento itself, on the occasion of the yearly convention of DOBIS/LIBIS users, who received a warm welcome by the the autonomous Province in September 1997.
What led people to design this new product? One advantage for users and librarians alike is the smooth integration with other databases. Several diverse database types will be made available including: databases with a similar bibliographical character (such as e.g. the database of the National Library Service), databases with a different cultural scope (databases of museums and archives, as was noted in the Trento cultural project) and databases of an absolutely different kind, such as those belonging to students's secretarial offices or to administrative offices depending on libraries.
For library staff, cataloguing will take place more smoothly, the acquisition and control mechanisms of periodicals will be much more practical and the integrated automation of the interlibrary loan on both National and International scales are guaranteed.
For the end-user other important improvements are about to take place. In addition to the existing possibility of accessing the Trento internal bibliographical patrimony from home, it will also be possible to consult for instance, the non-Trento databases with the same search engine. This is made possible due to the Z39.50 standard that has already been spread and adopted by the largest Italian libraries such as: the Biblioteca nazionale di Firenze and the Biblioteca Marciana (Venice), and also International libraries, such as the American Library of Congress.
Moreover the user who searches some of the external databases, will also be able to find out without having to repeat the search procedure, if documents are in possession of Trento libraries or not. Searching possiblities will be more advanced and more plentiful. The user will be able to undertake numerous transactions from home: make reservations, receive e-mails, make suggestions for new acquisitions, verify the expiration date of borrowed items, etc.
The technical support of the system will be given to Informatica Trentina S.p.A., current concessionaire for the management of the provincial electronic information system.