AIB. Commissione nazionale biblioteche delle università e della ricerca

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Convegno internazionale sullo sviluppo delle raccolte
International conference on collection development

Current issues in collection development: Italian and global perspectives

Bologna, February 18, 2005

Giovanni Solimine
The collection plan of BEIC (European Library of Information and Culture)

BEIC will be built in Milan in the next years. The profile of the library is quite unusual for Italy: Milan still does not have a large public library, which can satisfy information, popular and cultural needs of a metropolitan area of over 7 million people, and can represent also a place for meeting and socialization.

BEIC addresses to the whole metropolitan community and particularly to those people who have general but not trivial information and cultural needs, of high level though not specialized. Anyone who has an information need could, then, address to the library: the young and common citizen of any age who is moved simply by curiosity, by an interest in topical issues or in his everyday life activities, as well as in his relationship with civil society and institutions; the student who is carrying on a research or needs to follow some subject areas; the scholar or researcher who needs to widen the spectrum of his research beyond strict limits of specializations; professors, traders, officers and executives and whoever carry documentation needs in any area of activity or would like to update his/her professional knowledge. Other cases could be proposed: however, what is important to emphasize here is that the library does not address only to people studying but to anybody, to the Milanese and Lombard society, to the city which works and produces.

More information is available at <http://www.beic.it>.

As all major libraries in the world, BEIC aims to reach segments of users that are wider and more varied than any other cultural service.

BEIC is supported by a Foundation whose President is professor Antonio Padoa Schioppa, and will be realized with the contribution of the Italian government, the Lombardy Region, the City of Milan, Milan universities, and other cultural institutions.

Bolles & Wilson, the winner of the international competition for planning of the library, are now working at the final architectural plan. BEIC will be built in the area where previously there was Porta Vittoria railway station, and that has been given by the City of Milan.

I have been a member of the team that prepared the library general organization project and coordinated the collection development policy.

The collection profile

In order to define functions and the mission of BEIC, the feasibility study fixed these points for the collection profile:

The guidelines in the Preliminary Document to the beginning of Planning (DPP), written in 2000 and used to announce the international planning competition, are the following:


BEIC aims to offer the following:

Topical subjects and quick reference

Organization of new publications (there will be a constantly renewed display of 10.000 items simultaneously) will follow the model known in library science as "entrance sector", given to present materials according to "interest areas"

Reference and information services

One of BEIC features will be being a library where there is a strong integration between professional resources (librarians), information resources (catalogues, reference works, online databases) and documentary materials.

This service that will still be based on a large quantity of paper materials (about 100.000 items), will also have many multimedia products (indexes, catalogues, CD-ROM bibliographies, online information sources)

Beyond the first general reference area, there will be some specialized reference sections (community information and local studies service; business information service) and some open shelved reference and documentation sections organized by subject areas.

In fact, from the general reference service BEIC offer will radiate in different subject areas, where at least 500.000 open shelved works will be available.

Three departments are the heart of this sector:

Every department will have its "general reference area", which will function as an introductory level to various subjects represented in that sector and particular attention will be given to "horizontal" linking between subjects and the cross paths which unite them. Moreover, every department will have a small storage room open to library users. Every department will also have room for back office activities and will manage the whole work process from the selection of publications to acquisitions, to the cataloguing activities and to the services for the end user.

Shelving of materials in those sections will be based on the Dewey Decimal Classification and will constantly be assessed for weeding.

The main principle taken as a basis is that the collections must be organized around contents rather than document formats. Subject sections, then, will be organized by functional area and not by formats: every department will consequently possess paper documents (monographs and periodicals), audiovisual materials, CD-ROM, multimedia workstations.

Special services

Along with functional areas above described, all of them having a "generalist" call, we will find some special services whose main features will be addressing to particular sectors of users, host specialized materials or restrict to some formats.

Among these services the media forum is included. It will host mainly audiovisual documents (sound, videocassettes, video records, etc.) but also paper documents related to music, fine arts, the show, radio and television information. There will be a testing and recording room, rooms for playing audiovisual materials and a room for virtual reality and three-dimensional showing. The aim is to create a place for presentation and discussion on the art and culture of new media and electronic publishing, where conferences and workshops can be organized, and to make it a meeting point between producers and the general public.

There will not be a periodical room, as traditionally we intend it, since "special" periodicals whose aim is to study in depth some subjects will be shelved in the various subject areas. Only a newspaper room will be created, with newspapers, general information and popular periodicals, both in paper and digital formats.

Another extremely important section is dedicated to teenagers and young people.

Other sections of BEIC and other modules will host special services and specialized libraries, either by unifying or hosting already existing libraries, or by increasing those subjects that particularly meet the vocation of the city of Milan and Lombardy, and that hitherto have been totally or partly neglected by other libraries.

The collection plan

In 2001 the Collection plan was finished. Guidelines that partially modify the original project, included in the plan are as follows:

Topical subjects and quick information


Department areas (see details for internal organization and important periodicals collections)

Every department area will have a reference section, thought as an introductory moment to the whole area and the single subjects there represented.

Reading rooms and individual study rooms: about 1000 general reference volumes

Media forum: 50.000 audiovisual documents at least and 10.000 paper support documents

Children and young section

Newspapers room: 300 titles, of which:



Collections: about 85.000 volumes and 600 current periodicals

Propaedeutic (?) Educational reference section


1. Mathematics [with 100 current periodicals]

2. Computer science [with 50 current periodicals]

3. Astronomy [with 15 current periodicals]

4. Physics and chemistry

4.1 Physics [with 80 current periodicals]

4.2 Chemistry [with 30 current periodicals]

5. Earth sciences [with 30 current periodicals]

5.1 Geology

5.2 Palaeontology

5.3 Palaeontology and Palaeobotany

6. Life sciences

6.1 Life sciences, biology [with 70 current periodicals]

6.2 Botany [with 20 current periodicals]

6.3 Zoology [with 25 current periodicals]

7. Medicine [with 80 current periodicals]

8. Psychology and psychoanalysis [with 55 current periodicals]

9. Agriculture and veterinary science

10. Engineering, manufacturing and building [with 30 current periodicals]

10.1 Engineering

10.2 Chemical engineering

10.3 Manufacturing

10.4 Building

11. Town planning and architecture [with 50 current periodicals]

11.1 Town planning

11.2 Architecture

Storage room on this floor



Collections: about 210.000 volumes and 1.100 current periodicals


1. Philosophy [with 100 current periodicals]

2. Religion [with 45 current periodicals]

3. Geography [with 35 current periodicals]

4. General history of the ancient world [with 50 current periodicals]

5. General history of Europe [with 190 current periodicals for sections 5 and 6]

6. General history of other continents

6.1 General history of Asia, and the Far East

6.2 General history of Africa

6.3 General history of North America

6.4 General history of South America

6.5 General history of other areas

7. Sociology and anthropology

8. Politics, economics and management

8.1 Political science [with 80 current periodicals]

8.2 Economics [with 170 current periodicals]

8.3 Commerce, communications and transports [with 50 current periodicals]

8.4 Management [with 40 current periodicals]

9. Law and public administration

9.1 Law [with 85 current periodicals]

9.2 Public administration [with 35 current periodicals]

10. European and international organizations

10.1 European organizations

10.2 International organization

11. Social services and education

11.1 Social services [with 30 current periodicals]

11.2 Education [with 40 current periodicals]

12. Information sciences and organization of culture

12.1 Library science, documentation, archive keeping [with 35 current periodicals]

12.2 Cultural organizations and museology

13. Customs, home economics and family living

13.1 Customs and traditions [with 20 current periodicals]

13.2 Home economics and family living

Storage room on this floor


AL Department = Arts and literature

Collections: about 200.00 volumes and 750 current periodicals

Introductory reference section


1. Fine arts [with 100 current periodicals for sections 1 and 2]

1.1 Sculpture

1.2 Drawing

1.3 Painting

2. Graphic arts and photography

2.1 Graphic arts

2.3 Photography

3. Music, show and sport

3.1 Music [with 90 current periodicals]

3.2 Show [with 40 current periodicals]

3.3 Games and sports

4. Classical languages and literatures [with 50 current periodicals]

4.1 Latin language

4.2 Classical Greek

4.3 Latin literature

4.4 Classical Greek literature

5. Italian language and literature [with 310 current literature periodicals and 110 current linguistics periodicals for sections 5 to 11]

5.1 Italian language

5.2 Italian literature

6. English and American languages and literatures

6.1 English language

6.2 American literature in English

6.3 English literature

7. German language and literature

7.1 German language

7.2 German literature

8. French language and literature

8.1 French language

8.2 French literature

9. Spanish and Portuguese languages and literatures

9.1 Spanish language

9.2 Portuguese language

9.3 Spanish and Hispanic literature

9.4 Portuguese and Brazilian literatures

10. Russian language and literature

10.1 Russian language

10.2 Russian literature

11. Other languages and literatures

11.1 Other languages

11.2 Other literatures

Storage room on this floor


Work in progress

At the moment, we are working to translate the collection plan in a real Collection development policy statement, and we intend to finish it by the end of next June, in order to begin building, during the year, the first kernels of book and digital collections of BEIC. The aim is to buy, beginning from next year, 100.000 volumes by year for five years, so to be able to open the library with at least 500.000 open shelved volumes.

The Collection plan used the Conspectus model to define development policies, giving a first indication of the intensity level, which collections will have to reach in the different subject areas. Now we must be more detailed: we have firstly to specify media and document supports that will be buyed in different departments, the level of contamination that must be achieved between different formats, so to be able to precisely quantify the number of documents to acquire in each section (this is very useful also to precise the space requirements and the kind of furniture). From this work some useful suggestion will arise in order to begin to define service strategies (for instance: loan rules and the necessity to estimate the necessity of double copies for certain documents) and criteria for regular management of collections (for instance: turn of materials between open shelf, on floor storage and preservation storage room; criteria for periodical reviewing and weeding; gift and exchange policy and criteria for accepting or refusing them: user book requests policy, preservation policy, etc.)

The Collection development policy statement will also have to describe the acquisition procedures (indication of suppliers, that could be, according to different kinds of documents, preferably bookshops, publishers, antiques market, or direct acquisitions from abroad, etc.) and to set responsibilities of different figures involved in the decisional process and activities flows (budget planning, involvement of librarians in different departments that will take part in the selection of materials to buy, proposals procedures, responsibilities in selection and in orders issue, occasional involvement of experts or formal consulting committees, treatment procedures, etc.)

An approval plan must be set and a protocol by which previously agreeing with one or more booksellers (also according to their specialization in certain subject areas or kind of materials) on some systematic criteria for supplying of information and documents, based on the acquisition profile contained in the collection development policy statement, on the emission of standing orders (multi volumes works, serial publications, whole editorial series) and the selection of current production of some publishers or on some arguments or subjects areas, that the bookseller will send directly to the library according to the agreements set.

The agreement with the supplier will also define service that will be added to acquired documents, if that (for instance: bibliographic record to be imported in the DBMS, barcodes and secure systems labels, transparent dusk cover, etc.)

N.B.: disponibile anche la versione italiana.

Copyright AIB 2005-09-28, ultimo aggiornamento 2005-09-28 a cura di Serafina Spinelli
URL: http://www.aib.it/aib/commiss/cnur/boesolim.htm3

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