Virtual Library of
Bibliographical Heritage

Virtual Library of Bibliographical Heritage

The Virtual Library of Bibliographic Heritage includes digital facsimiles of the collections that make up Spanish bibliographic heritage. It includes manuscripts, incunabula and old printed books. This initiative is leading to the recovery of important collections, including those belonging to the monasteries of Santa María de Huerta, Santes Creus and Poblet, and, now, respectively, those of the State Public Libraries in Soria and Tarragona, the Borbón-Lorenzana collection (which is kept at the Library of Castille-La Mancha/ State Public Library in Toledo) the outstanding collections of old printed books at the State Public Libraries in Leon, Orihuela, Cadiz and Cordoba and the rich collections of Raimundo Lulio at the State Public Library in Palma de Mallorca. There are also books about the Spanish War of Independence and the independence of the Latin American Republics, held in the Central Military Library and the AECID (Spanish Agency for International Cooperation for Development) Hispanic Library, respectively.

The manuscripts, incunabula and old printed books have been selected for their rarity, their bibliographic relevance, their representativiness, or their links with local or historic collections from specific origins including, for example, the collection of old printed books at the State Public Library in Leon.

Other important collections are now being added, including those relating to the War of Independence. The second centenary of this war is commemorated on May 2nd, 2008, for which a specific microsite has been created. This will be done for all the outstanding collections, which are of diverse origins, and will become part of and enlarge the VLBH. This will help citizens get closer to their bibliographic heritage, by enabling them to view, print and download materials and finally to use all the tools made available for them by the increasingly expanded and advanced use of the Information and Communication Technologies applied to bibliographic information.

It has also been foreseen to contribute to Europeana project http://www.europeana.eu promoted by the European Union to create a database that will include the bibliographic heritage of all the state members. This will be made possible by our ability to comply with the technical requirements for high quality bibliographic materials of Spanish bibliographic heritage, as a result of both this VLBH and the similar Virtual Library of Historical Newspapers (BVPH) project: http://prensahistorica.mcu.es

The Europeana database will thus give access to Spanish bibliographic heritage through projects such as the VLBH, in the same way that others existing in the rest of European countries.

Technical features

The Subdirectorate General for Library Coordination has made a major effort to provide citizens and researchers from all over the world with a continuously-increasing amount of materials through the VLBH. Everyone interested will be notified of new additions to the database through RSS, i.e., through syndicating contents and enabling those using this service to receive regular information about all the new registrations on the database.

The VLBH is particularly concerned about the multilingual situation in Spain and has authority files structured according to the MARC21 format for authority records, meaning that headings and access points can be used in all Spain's languages. The authority records can be also reviewed through access points in English coming from the Library of Congress. These are easily integrated in the specific fields of authority records, thus facilitating international reviews of Spanish bibliographic heritage.

The VLBH also has a repository OAI-PMH compliant, which is used extensively worldwide and increasingly in Spain and is one of the architectural cornerstones of Europeana. For this, the VLBH dynamically updates the OAI repository from the MARC21 records, which are automatically transformed into Dublin Core metadata schemes in compliance with the ISO 15836:2003 standard.

The VLBH is an OAI-PMH http://www.openarchives.org/Register/BrowseSites data provider and its information appears in the most important harvesters in the world, including OAISter http://www.oaister.org/viewcolls.html

The VLBH also has a SRU server meeting the specifications of the Library of Congress that involves developing the old client-server technology prescribed by standard Z39.50 or ISO 23950. The VLBH is therefore a web service provider and appears in the registry kept by the Library of Congress www.loc.gov/standards/sru/resources/implementors.html

It is important that both OAI-PMH and SRU are part of the structure of Europeana and, thanks to this procedure and its server, it is easier and simpler not only to gain access to bibliographic records in exchange format, but also to download them and enter them in other databases, enhancing federated searches.

The digital items in the VLBH therefore include bibliographic records in MARC21 format for bibliographic records and a control of access points by mean of MARC21 format for authority records that allows variants of names and subjects as well as the above-mentioned multilingual access to be established.

The bibliographic records and its holdings are also in MARC21, making the exchange of information referring to the copies easier and also giving better access to their notes, in order to enable compliance with the rules developed by Act 7/1985 on the Spanish Historic Heritage.

There is a multipage digital object which allows images of the item described to be viewed in JPEG format. This is linked to the bibliographic description by the MARC21 format field provided for this purpose, which also includes the address where all the images are contained. All these formats and the labelling or ISBD can be shown, as required by the user, by choosing the appropriate option. They can also be downloaded or sent by e-mail, and there are also three sets of characters available.

All this information about the digital object, comprising the standardized access points, bibliographic description, holding records and the digital copy are grouped according to METS, and the VLBH also appears in the registry of the implementers of this standard www.loc.gov/standards/mets/mets-registry.html

This group of IT techniques meets the needs of specialists in old printed books, who can use the data base access points that are so important for these types of bibliographic materials as the places where they were printed or copied (in the case of manuscripts) and the names and possible variations of their printers, booksellers and copyists. In many cases these access points have been standardized using the required MARC21 format fields and subfields meaning that if the user enters Mantua Carpetanorum as place of printing he will be taken to Madrid, and Ludovicus Sanctionis as printer will be translated into Luis Sánchez.

Not all the records in the database have these facilities, but maintenance of authority files means that, once an equivalence has been established, it can be harnessed and used in multiple records, enhancing the work of bibliographers and researchers.

Finally, this virtual library is one of the initiatives of digital collections development that, promoted and coordinated by the Subdirectorate General for Library Coordination, will enable similar databases to be created in Autonomous Regions or important cultural entities (some are already available through this procedure). Using these information and communication technologies, Spanish bibliographic heritage is becoming more accessible to citizens and can be disseminated internationally and particularly through European initiatives.


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