National Library of the Czech Republic in the year 1999

Technological Development
Reserve Collection
Collection Cataloguing

Library Collections' Administration
Library Collection Preservation
Library and Information Science Division

Memoriae Mundi Series Bohemica
Union Catalogues
Publishing activity

 Technological Development

In 1999 digitisation kept developing at enormous speed. A microfilm scanner was put into operation and used as a basis for a new digitisation processing line for old newspapers and magazines. All of this, combined with the already existing digitised manuscripts and rare prints accounts for the large volume of new primary digital data. A new digitisation centre is expected to start its regular operation in the year 2000.
A number of other activities were technologically stabilised. New problems began to appear due to obsolescence of both several hardware and software technologies, however. This has even led to delays in the development of integrated library system, whose server does not meet the requirements any more despite the partial upgrade of the ALEPH system (version 33_5). The equipment in the centre for digitisation of manuscripts was also upgraded.
The NL made crucial steps to remedy the technological situation: all available funds were used to upgrade the computer equipment and make it workable for a new version of the ALEPH library system, known as ALEPH 500 (ExLibris). A new and powerful network server, AlphaServer DS20 was purchased and installed. On the other hand, the agenda related to the National Union Catalogue abandoned the ALEPH System to be mounted on an independent server.
Fifty-two additional computers have been installed thanks both the regular funds of the NL itself, and corporate donations.
The Reference Centre of the NL was equipped with eleven computers by the means from sponsorship, including one with a special configuration for visually impaired users. The Reference Centre computers along with several others in services area operate under Windows NT.
About 500 computers worked in the NL (including the remote Central Depository) in 1999, 90% of them interconnected to form a unified network. Out of this number, there were 15 servers of various capacity and performance. The library operated two Internet domains: and and three sub-domains for specialised Web services: for the scanned catalogues, for the digitisation programme, and for scanned newspapers.
The volume of data transmitted has considerably grown, comprising both outgoing and incoming communication. Most outgoing messages were due to services related to electronic and especially scanned catalogues, while the newly opened Reference Centre accounted for most of the increase in incoming communication. This consequently led to enormous increase of both the volume of transmitted data within the academic network TEN-155 and the due fees for the operator of it (CESNET comp.). Soon, it will be necessary to upgrade the Library internal network from 10 Mbit/s to 100 Mbit/s, which of course will depend on the financial resources available. The sections that were already put into operation, i.e. the 100Mbit/s internal network in the Hostivao Central Depository and the 100Mbit/s link between Hostivao and Klementinum, provide room enough for the launch of the digital library intended for the year 2000, with the aim to open wide access to digital copies of old newspapers and journals, manuscripts, and other documents.
Emergency repairs must have been undertaken in the scanned catalogues system (named KATIF) which served as a urgent warning and impetus to prepare an overall protective system to be implemented in 2000. Digital CD-ROM Archive, as well as the system of automatic library data stored on CD-ROMs including the data produced by the Library's own digitisation programmes are currently under construction.


Non-periodical Documents
Czech Acquisition

The domestic acquisition totalled 43,771 items in 1999 (while 42,160 in 1998).
The legal deposit is the focus of Czech acquisition agenda. According to respective law the Library is entitled to receive two free copies of each publication appeared on the territory of the State. The copies acquired are catalogued for the National Preservation Collection as well as for the Universal Library Collection, and subsequently they serve as a basis for the national bibliography and the statistical survey of the national book production.
In addition, very much effort and means must have been spent to claim missing copies of legal deposit from a number of publishers who failed to deliver their overdue copies. Following the provisions of the Law, some cases were handed over to municipal or district administration, respectively, to take legal measures (imposing fines etc.).
As regards the electronic publications, the Library began claiming systematically all of them, especially those published on CD-ROM. The effect was, however, far from adequate, as some publishers declare their CD-ROMs mere software products, taking advantage of unclear distinction in the wording of the Law.
Systematic acquisition efforts resulted into an increasing influx of legal deposit: the total of legal deposit copies was 34,393 in 1999 (32,097 in 1998). As to the number of titles, the total was 18,750 (while 17,484 in 1998); from this number 13,244 books (compared with 12,460 in 1998), and the rest other material. In addition, 2,972 published standards were received, as compared with 4,642 in 1998.
In accordance with UNESCO recommendations, the annual statistics on non-periodical titles published in the Czech Republic include 12,551 titles as compared with 11,738 titles in 1998 (the numbers are derived from the total of obtained legal deposit copies).
Purchase focused mostly on domestic publications intended for so-called Academic Collection, however the percentage within the total purchase (70.10%) was lower than in 1998 (75.52%). This reduction may have been due to a new more restrictive policy in acquisition of essential academic and university publications currently available in the market. The portion of undergraduate study materials was 41.30%. The Library's academic acquisitions included books destined for Study Rooms' reference libraries. Also the collection of Bohemica was enlarged wherever possible. The National Preservation Collection acquired a limited number of carefully selected desiderata, mostly published in the 1st half of the 20th century, through the antiquarian book trade and auctions. At a very restricted scale, special non-printed documents and titles were purchased for the working purposes of the Library departments.
The proportion of purchase to total acquisition of domestic documents fell from 11.60% in 1998 to 9.77%. The purchase total was 4,277 items (compared with 4,890 in 1998).
Average cost of one item was CZK 234.95 while in 1998 CZK 225.10, despite avoiding extremely costly acquisitions and reducing the total volume of purchase.
Donations are still the main source of retrospective acquisition of desiderata and books in high demand; the most important are offers by libraries and other organisations, as they are dissolving collections or acquisitions that don't comply with their purpose, but also e.g. legacies of individuals, etc. However, because of huge bulk of material offered the Library had to pursue strictly selective policy in this area.
The items from donations acquired were mostly used within the retrospective acquisitions programme and entered into the National Preservation Collection (1,652), and into the Universal Library Collection (1,114). The proportion of donations to the total of domestic literature acquisition was 6.75% (compared to 9.54% in 1998).
Internal sources (reserve collections, ISBN collection, photocopies) provided 1,488 new items (compared to 302 in 1998).
When compared to previous years, the area of domestic acquisitions experienced continuing rise in acquisition rate. This current increase reflects the increasing efficiency of systematic acquisition efforts. On the other hand such an increase translates in growing work loads in other fields: the capacity of basic document registration and their distribution in the processing workflow is totally occupied, so the acquisition staff are ever more busy with processing and cataloguing activities at the expense of active book search and acquisition.

Foreign Literature Acquisition

In accordance with the mission and objective of the Library the focus of foreign literature acquisition are fields of natural sciences, social sciences, culture and arts.
In contrast to the previous year, in 1999 acquisition experienced a slight decrease in overall numbers. In all, 11,314 new items were acquired against 12,977 in 1998. Of this total, 9,980 items were printed documents, 1,162 special non-printed documents, 172 monographs and databases on CD-ROM.
The proportion of book exchange to total acquisition of printed documents was 45% (5,087 items), while donations accounted for 26% (2,907 items), purchase for 17.5% (1,986 items). Non-printed documents were acquired through both purchase, donation, and exchange, but the acquisition rate of this category is too low (11.5%, i.e. 1,334 items) to include the breakdown of the total number here.
The proportion of international publication exchange to total acquisition number slightly grew. While the percentage through the years 1995 to 1998 fluctuated between 38.0% and 59.5%, in 1999 it was 45%, i.e. 5,087 items (4,955 in 1998).
There is a continuing decrease of book exchange activities in libraries in well developed countries, as this way of acquiring publications had generally proved to be more labour- and cost-demanding than purchase. Those who are interested can buy Czech books quite easily in their own countries, with exception of countries whose market is closed to foreign suppliers. For us, however, exchange of publications is still the most effective source of acquisition for economical reasons. The most important is the exchange of periodicals, which account for about a half of the total of foreign title acquisitions; it helps us significantly in reducing the costs of subscription fees.
Exchange contacts are being constantly reviewed and modified, and the balance of mutual exchange accounts surveyed as well.
From the total of 295 exchange contacts in 57 countries, 60 are in Germany, 40 in the USA, 19 in Spain, 18 in Italy, 16 in Poland, 10 in Hungary, 9 in the United Kingdom, and 8 in Russia. In the rest of co-operating countries there are less than 8 working contacts in each.
The majority of publications were acquired from Germany (1,455), Russia (597), Poland (519), USA (437), United Kingdom (232), France (215), Austria (170), Sweden (159), and Rumania (128). Other countries contributed less than 120 books each.
A few national bibliographies on CD-ROM (Slovakian, Slovenian, Polish, Canadian, Venezuelan) were acquired, and 123 monographs on CD-ROM.
Between 1995 and 1998, donations accounted for 26.4% - 34.0% of all acquired foreign books. In 1999, this ratio was 26%; the number of items fell from 3,302 in 1998 to 2,907 in 1999.
Donations of especially high value often come from embassies (Turkey, Israel, Italy, Denmark), grant programmes (Japan, Korea), or institutions (Deutsche Schillergesellschaft, Magistrat der Stadt Wien, the Faculty of Arts at the Charles University) but also from many other international organisations, ministries, foundations, universities etc., as well as from individuals, both foreign and domestic. In contrast to the year 1998, only few donations were acquired at book fairs.
As to the country of origin, most donations came from Germany (553), the USA (448), France (354), the United Kingdom (230), Slovakia (171), Switzerland (160), Austria (117), Russia (115); then less than 100 publications from each of a number of other countries.
In addition, 23 monographs on CD-ROM were acquired by donation.
Between 1995 and 1998, the proportion of purchases to total foreign literature acquisitions fluctuated between 13.5% and 20.5%. In 1999, the share was 17.5% and the number of acquired items (1,986) dropped in comparison to 1998 (2,666).
The ongoing lack of proper funding led to a very tightening acquisition policy, allowing for purchases of only the most fundamental titles in key areas of interest, in key series, and the most indispensable of reference books for Reading Rooms, reference collections, and titles necessary for the newly-completed Reference Centre. The focus was therefore on encyclopaedias and dictionaries.
Average cost per publication grew to CZK 1,933 (with CZK 1,126 in 1998); this reflects the ever-increasing cost and dwindling opportunities to acquire valuable books at rock-bottom prices.
Most publications were bought in Germany (464), the United Kingdom (389), the USA (321), Italy (164), Slovakia (150), France (106); then less than 100 publications in each of a number of many other countries.
In addition, 7 CD-ROM monographs were bought, and 15 bibliographic and publishing house databases on CD-ROM updated. The average cost of a new item was CZK 7,280, while that of subscribed CD-ROM update was CZK 56,968 (the price reduction comparing to 1998 was caused by the discounts offered and the favourable exchange rate at the time of payment).

Historical and Special Musical Collections

Historical collection acquisition, with only CZK 200,000 of funding, managed to buy two incunabula at a total price of CZK 135,000; two modern manuscripts written in Czech, and six old prints.
The Library acquired two rare musical prints, one from the sixteenth and the other from the seventeenth century. Direct purchase also yielded five old prints by the Prague publisher J. Nigrin and four prints of Venetian origin.
Le Centre de Musique Baroque de Versailles donated a remarkable publication to the Library's collection of printed musical documents.


The necessary reduction of the amount normally assigned for the acquisition of foreign journals (by CZK 100,000 from 1998 amount), combined with growing subscription fees, resulted in cancellation of a number of titles subscribed. From the total of 814 foreign titles acquired only a half is subscribed, while the rest come through exchange channels, or exceptionally by donations.
The Periodicals Department participated in the negotiations of the task force for the preparation of a programme called Optimisation of Data Availability from International Periodical Data Sources in Czech Libraries. As a result, they submitted the draft projects, while co-operating as co-authors in two other projects of the programme Information Sources for Research and Development, which had been announced by the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport. All these projects will fruit only in the year 2000, when they are to improve accessibility of electronic data sources.
The National Preservation Collection was expanded with 4,000 legal deposit copies of domestic periodicals (3,115 titles), while the Universal Library Collection obtained 553 legal deposit copies (2,606 titles); 89 titles were purchased. Library reading rooms were able to offer open access to 146 periodical titles.

International Agencies


In 1999, 164 new publishers joined the system of International Standard of Book Numbering (ISBN), while other 39 left it. As of December 31,1999, the total number of Czech ISBN system members is 2,745.
The accuracy of ISBN numbers was checked in around 13,000 titles. The ISBN Agency itself assigned 15,000 ISBN numbers to titles produced by publishers who have not become ISBN members.
A printed Publishers' Directory listing all members of the ISBN system was published, complemented with a directory of ISMN members (documenting the figures as of December 31,1999). The Agency also published 24 issues of the O.K. biweekly - (O.K. stands for Ohlášené knihy - Announced Books).
Work contacts with the International ISBN Agency in Berlin were maintained and reinforced. Three updates of the Czech Publishers Database were delivered to be incorporated into the international PIID directory (Publishers' International ISBN Directory), coupled with a list of wrong ISBN numbers identified of 1998.
The Czech National ISBN Agency presented its results at the 27th annual session of the advisory body of the International ISBN Agency, held in October in London.


Eight new musical publishers joined the system of International Standard of Musical Numbering (ISMN), so the total as of December 31,1999, is 35.
The accuracy of ISMN numbers in newly published musical titles was checked continually. The ISMN Agency itself assigned 65 numbers to titles where the number was not included.
The Czech National ISMN Agency presented its results at the 7th annual session of the advisory body of the International ISMN Agency, held in April in London.


In cooperation with the Czech National ISSN Centre (at State technical Library), 301 newly launched serial publications from non-technical fields were assigned their ISSN numbers.

Reserve Collection

The Library Reserve Collection located in Klementinum and Neratovice has systematically being looked through with the aim to select items to be added or to fulfil gaps in Library´s regular collections, or for other potential use. For this purpose, 2,287 volumes of periodicals, and 2,776 volumes of non-periodical publications were selected, resulting from the process of checking and sorting out hundreds of metres of book and periodical material. Historical Reserve Collection stored in the Central Depository in Hostivao was being processed in the same way.

Collection Cataloguing

Despite the increased time demands due to technical problems affecting the library system, collection cataloguing of the National Library continued with undiminished speed thanks to the extra effort on the part of cataloguers. There was a progress in a number of other key areas, as was for example that of subject description where English equivalents to subject keywords began to be added to bibliographic records. It makes it possible to exchange the records at international level and use them for "copy cataloguing".

New Acquisitions' Cataloguing

In 1999, 26,200 were catalogued (20,000 books, 2,200 microform documents, 700 musical units, 700 cartographic documents, and 2,600 graphical documents). Further 61,000 articles from Czech journals and newspapers were analytically described and catalogued under the CDS/ISIS System. Subsequently, these records were converted and included in an ALEPH-based database. New records of all the above-mentioned documents of Czech origin and foreign Bohemica were published in Czech National Bibliography CD-ROM. The 1999 was the last year to issue the print version of Czech National Bibliography. Books.

National Authorities

Quarterly updates of the authority database were issued, in a situation when the current ALEPH System, version 3xx still was not suitable for creating standard authority records (i.e. in the UNIMARC/Authority format), and linking them to bibliographic records. Authority records, therefore, had to be created simultaneously in a special database established for personal authority records, and in the index of the main bibliographic database of the National Library.
The National Authority File is available on the Czech National Bibliography CD-ROM, the Library's Web pages, on the Library's FTP server, and directly in the ALEPH Database.


After a temporary scale-down of standardisation activities in 1998, in the following year attention shifted back to this area again.
Cataloguing problems in the field of author cataloguing were mostly dealt with within the framework of the KATPOL electronic conference and the closely related Web page Cataloguing Policy; also the task forces set up to describe different document types continued in their discussions. On their basis, two key documents were finalised and approved: AACR2/UNIMARC - Approved Czech Interpretations and UNIMARC Union Catalogue Record. Special Documents. In addition, the translation of the second Appendix to the UNIMARC manual was published. The publications UNIMARC Union Database Record. Component Parts of a Document. Printed Monographs and Serials, and the Union Exchange Format Database Record. Component Parts of a Document. Printed Monographs and Serials were prepared for amendment proceedings.
In the methodology of subject cataloguing, fundamental improvement was attained in the question of creation of subject key words - use of purely pre-coordinated language was declining in favour of the post-co-ordination principle, and the conceptual nature of a term is respected. An updated version of Selected UDT Class Numbers was prepared for publication. The methodology of UDT-based extended notations (Master Reference File scale) was being prepared along with gathering of material for an alphabetical list of subject key words and the related UDT notations.
A combined effort of specialists dealing with author- and subject-based cataloguing on the one hand, and National Authority Administration on the other enabled them to reopen the question of authority headings for corporations and re-tested the reliability of possible sources. This resulted in an interpretation of AACR2R cataloguing guidelines.
A new Tornado software designed for the Czech National Bibliography CD-ROM was tested.

Cooperation, Courses, Workshops

As usual, the Collection Cataloguing Division plays a unifying role in the field of methodology and co-ordination of modern collection cataloguing in the Czech Republic. Besides international cooperation with OCLC, there were two national cooperation projects under way - within the project Cooperative Cataloguing - Czech Books, the State research libraries and the Moravian Library contributed to Czech book bibliography with 2,000 records (so far this means document records with ISBN), and within the Co-operation System of Article Bibliography the State research libraries provided the article bibliography database with 17,500 new records while the other libraries (Komenský State Pedagogical Library, Central Library for Agriculture and Food Industry, State Technical Library, Institute of State and Law at the Academy of Sciences of the CR) added another 8,400 records. Optimisation of available full-text entries and interconnecting analytical records with full-text entries continued with project analyses and planning. The winner from the competition is Anopress Agency.
Cooperation systems and their development are among the key areas of expansion for the years to come, and for this reason, in 1999, training and workshops organised by the Collection Cataloguing Division were aimed at this topic.
Two one-week courses of AACR2R/UNIMARC subject cataloguing were organised in cooperation with Library and Information Science Division for librarians from research, university, and public libraries. The courses were in high demand, so they will be repeated in the year 2000.

The Czech National Bibliography CD-ROM

Other data sources have been included into the Czech National Bibliography CD-ROM: the Author Database, and records of non-book material - special documents (graphical, musical, cartographic documents, musical records and electronic sources).
As the data volume had increased significantly, now 2 CD-ROMs are issued (disk 1: Czech Books, Foreign Bohemica, Special Documents, Dissertations and Autoabstracts, Subject Authorities; disk 2: Articles from Czech Periodicals, and Periodicals.
The current WIniFret software was replaced by a new one named Tornado.
As a pilot project, monthly updates of the two biggest databases (Czech Books, Articles from Czech Periodicals ) were posted on the National Library's Web pages, with the possibility to download the records.


The project Publishing the Czech 20th-Century Literary Production on the Internet and a on CD-ROM made good progress: in co-operation of ten state research libraries, the Moravian Library and the National Library, new cca 101,000 records were added (dating back to 1928), which enlarged the total of the Bibliographical catalogue to cca 292,000 records. All of them are available on Internet (RTR Database) and on a CD-ROM as well.
The project Retroconversion of the General Catalogue of the Universal Library Collection at the NL - II continued: cca 58,000 General Catalogue records were catalogued and 3,000 Czech dissertation records added thanks to the work of a well-trained team of subcontracted staff, especially students.
A possibility of interconnecting the "high-demand" collection (comprises those books that have been lent currently) and retroconversion was tested - a method of preferential retroconversion record selection by logging systemic numbers of minimum records under the ALEPH System.
To provide users with improved data, even before the records in ALEPH databases are complete, the possibility was successfully tested to link ALEPH-based minimum record (available on the Internet) and the scanned records in graphical format stored in KATIF.
In order to run the retroconversion efficiently and to make it possible to work actively with the scanned catalogue (editing, ordering corrections, amendment insertions), a new retroconversion information system (RIS) was tested, which allows such manipulations.


Number of records Retroconversion Period
Study Collection Catalogue 37,268 1995-1996
Librarianship Catalogue 7,624 1998
General Catalogue II (UKF) 90,000 1996-1999
Czech Literary Production 20th C. 299,536 1995-1999

Electronic Sources

Apart from cataloguing electronic sources (both monographic and series) on physical carriers, serious preliminary work was done to capture, preserve, and make accessible electronic sources published on-line.


In addition to regular cataloguing, in 1999 the NKC database was augmented with records of special documents converted from the CDS/ISIS system. This entails around 2,800 records on sound document, roughly 4,300 records on graphical documents and roughly 700 musical documents.


Electronic digital cataloguing of manuscripts has become a routine procedure both in a technological and users' sense. As the result from the to date experience, following is to be stated:

The existing guidelines and rules of description and follow-up processing are not sufficient because they are based only on the traditional data available in printed documents.
Electronic and digital cataloguing opens ways to extend the set of questions, which manuscript studies deal with, onto interdisciplinary and supra-disciplinary levels.
Such possibilities were being checked and tested on various databases and information systems (text catalogue, quotation index, dated manuscript catalogue, text and iconographic catalogue, bibliographic database). It proved to be essential to carry out a paradigmatic change in the way manuscripts are dealt with. One of the basic features of such a change must be a much higher level of inter-relatedness of library and research activities. Such deliberations lead to systematic theoretical, methodological and methodical questions; only after solving them and reaching a consensus there will be a possibility to build the infrastructure of a hybrid library, i.e. a manuscript library of the future.

MASTER Project

The electronic and digital manuscript cataloguing is closely related to our participation in MASTER (Manuscript Access through Standards for Electronic Records), a grant project of the European Commission. Its aim is to create a SGML/TEI standard for manuscript cataloguing and create a prototype of a joint (union) manuscript catalogue.
Very soon, the necessity appeared to focus on cataloguing in general, because this kind of book processing blurs the distinction between various types of instruments. Another crucial problem resides in the question of co-ordination of individual "national schools of manuscript handling" and of transcending the borders of individual historically determined cultural areas, both at library and at research levels.


After the conversion from CDS/ISIS, the catalogue records of Czech and foreign periodicals were corrected and edited (around 3,600 records). Another 318 new subject and author records were added to the catalogue. For the Czech National Bibliography - Czech Periodicals on CD-ROM, new software was tested and reviewed. One of two legal deposit copies of periodicals started to be catalogued under the Serial Administration Module, and then transferred to the National Preservation Collection. The Serial Administration Module began to be used also for the accumulated (annual) registry of the other legal deposit copy.

Library Collections' Administration

Historical collections continued to be transferred from the Universal Collection to the Department of Manuscripts and Early Printed Books. Another aspect of this project is to transfer the 19th and 20th century Baroque Library collections to other place, so that the historically valuable prints are deposited separately, under the administration and responsibility of the Department of Manuscripts and Early Printed Books, provided with a suitable climate protection, and information access.
The number of orders and lending from collections increased to the extent that there is no more capacity for ad hoc activities and emergencies, and any absence of staff interferes the user services routine.