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Retrospective Conversion of Catalogues

Retrospective conversion of catalogues of Czech libraries on a reasonably large scale began after the 1990s.

The Czech Republic has a very important "umbrella" programme for retrospective conversion, namely the National Programme of Retrospective Conversion. The National Programme of Retrospective Conversion is the fifth sub-programme of the PZIS programme.

In the years 1996-97, the NL was awarded a special-purpose grant by the Czech Ministry of Culture for the scanning of its catalogues and making them available in the "graphic" format. Thanks to the grant, all the major NL catalogues were scanned, and, in the following years, made available to both on-site and off-site users.

In 1997, scanned catalogues were made accessible to the National Library (NL) clients within the Clementinum. That step marked a significant progress in opening the NL catalogues to all users without any limitations. The General Catalogue of the Universal Library Collection, which is the most comprehensive "map" of our library's holdings, had previously been accessible to a selected group of users only. The first user interface was very much like the "traditional" catalogue.

In the following years, scanned NL catalogues were also made available to off-site clients through the Internet (

The year 1997 was an important milestone for retrospective conversion of Czech catalogues and bibliographic lists. In that year, research and development grants of the Ministry of Culture made it possible to start a full-scale conversion of the General Catalogue of the Universal Library Collection, and, which was even more important, to launch the co-operative project "Access to Czech Books Published in the 20th Century over the Internet and on CD-ROMs" that had been in preparation for a long time. At the end of the 20th century the NL was publishing a CD-ROM with bibliographic records covering a majority of the books published in the Czech Republic (and a small portion of the books published in Slovakia) during the entire 20th century. All these records are also available via the Internet. Making 400,000 twentieth century records available in digital form (including changes to them to bring them into compliance with international standards) is a product of the project called, "Making Czech Book Production of the 20th Century Available via the Internet and CD-ROM".

In 2004 aprox. 31,500 cataloguing records of the Universal Library Collection and approx. 45,000 of Slavonic Library records were converted to the MARC 21 format.

In the following years an essential improvement should come in the opening of catalogues and holdings of Czech libraries. We lag behind developed European countries in this area in by 20-30 years. This "debt" must be settled. Any speed of this action largely depends on the amount of financial means allocated under the programme. Public Library and Information Services.

Nov 09, 2014