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Associations and InstitutionsAnnual 

64th IFLA Conference Logo

   64th IFLA General Conference
   August 16 - August 21, 1998


Code Number: 021-141-E
Division Number: IV.
Professional Group: Bibliography
Joint Meeting with: -
Meeting Number: 141.
Simultaneous Interpretation:   Yes

Bibliographic control in the Netherlands

Kees van den Berg
Acquisitions and Processing
Royal Library
The Hague



Universal Bibliographic Control (UBC) is based on the responsibility of each individual country to ensure the complete, uniform and timely bibliographic registration of all publications published within its national borders. The combination of a legal Depot where all the nation's publications are collected and a national bibliography, in which all those publications received by the Depot are described, is a perfect example of the means through which one can shape National Bibliographic Control. When the ideas about UBC were first formalized in an action plan by UNESCO and IFLA (1) approximately 30 years ago, the requirements for genuine bibliographic control still had to be realized in the Netherlands. There was no legal Depot. Publications produced in the Netherlands were indeed registered, but this was a private undertaking.
The current status of bibliographic control in the Netherlands is described in this article, with an occasional retrospective glance to place the current situation in perspective.

Depot of Dutch Publications

The Depot of Dutch Publications began at the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (Royal Library), the National Library of the Netherlands (KB) in 1974 as an experiment. (2) At that time, discussions had been going on for some years regarding the legal requirement for a Depot. The KB finally decided, partly out of impatience and partly for practical reasons, to set up an experiment to determine whether Dutch publishers would be prepared to donate their publications freely. By adopting this strategy, the KB also hoped to accelerate the decision making process. It didn't turn out that way. The experiment was successful, but the government threw out legislation and this has remained the case ever since. The Dutch formula of voluntary deposit is an exception internationally, but it has been working satisfactorily now for almost 25 years, mainly thanks to the cooperation of publishers in the Netherlands. The number of books deposited annually at the Royal Library now numbers approximately forty thousand, while the number of current periodicals stands at roughly 11,000. The number of electronic publications which have recently been collected, due to the establishment of a depot for electronic publications, was approximately 300 in 1997. Five years ago the number of current periodicals was much higher than it is today. The selection criteria were tightened up in order to stem the increase: door-to-door magazines and the journals of local societies are no longer collected. An investigation into how complete the Dutch Depot is has been carried out twice. In 1983 we measured how many of the publications produced in 1980 and 1981 were present in the Depot (3) and in 1996, using the same method as in 1983, we tried to account for the presence of publications published in 1993. (4)

In 1996, 96.6% of all books possessing an ISBN number were covered (in 1983 this figure stood at 71.9%). Concerning the category dealing with academic publications, it appeared that in 1996, 99% of the theses and 87.5% of the academic treatises were present (in 1983 only the theses were counted: 76.9%). Grey literature stood at 74.1% in 1996 (in 1983 this figure was 44.9%). As far as periodicals are concerned, 93% were present in 1996 (in 1983, this figure was 68.8%).

The current Dutch Bibliography

For a long time the registration of works published in the Netherlands was primarily a matter of private initiative. As early as the 17th century, several book dealers provided publication lists. One such book dealer was Broer Jansz (1579-1652) from Amsterdam who, between 1640 and 1652, periodically listed all the new titles of the Dutch book trade in his Catalogus Universalis (5). However, it was the creation of another Amsterdam book dealer, C.L. Brinkman (1820-1881), that grew into the Dutch bibliography. In 1858 Brinkman published the first edition of his Alphabetical Index of Books, Prints and Maps (Alphabetische naamlijst van boeken, plaat- en kaartwerken.) , covering the years 1833-1849. The next edition bore the title Brinkman's catalogus der boek-, plaat en kaartwerken during the years 1850-1882.

When the Royal Library set up the experimental Depot of Dutch Publications in 1974, this was done in close cooperation with the then publisher of Brinkman's catalogue. The basis for the Depot was founded on the agreement that all the books that were sent to the compilers of Brinkman's Catalogue for listing could be included in the Depot of the KB. When, from the publisher's point of view, reduced profits and rising costs put the production of Brinkman's Catalogue under pressure, a rescue mission was called for. The staff of the publishing company that compiled Brinkman's Catalogue were fully absorbed into the Depot of Dutch Publications in 1976 and in 1982 the publisher transferred the responsibility for Brinkman's Catalogue to the KB. In this way the Netherlands obtained its true National Bibliography.

Under the umbrella term, Dutch Bibliography, a number of bibliographic products are provided by the KB. These products are summarized below. Brinkman's cumulatieve catalogus / Brinkman's Cumulative Catalogue This is the general national bibliography of the Netherlands. Brinkman's Cumulative Catalogue appears in eleven issues a year and follows a cumulative pattern (monthly, quarterly, bi-annual, annual). Alongside this, a quinquennial issue is also published. The Brinkman contains a bibliograp-hic entry of every book that has been submitted to the Depot of Dutch Publications. New titles from serial publications are also included. In a separate section of the quarterly edition titles of newly published sheet music are listed too and, since 1994, the annual edition has also included a Bibliography of Cartographical Materials published in the Netherlands (Bibliografie van in Nederland verschenen kartografische materialen) . The bibliographic entries in the Brinkman are ordered alphabetically. An index of corporate authors and a subject-index can be cross-referenced with the bibliographic entries. Authority files for author's names, corporate authors and subjects help to standardize the entries in Brinkman's catalogue. The KB has sub-contracted the publication of Brinkman's catalogue to an outside commercial publisher. (6)

Brinkman's Cumulative Catalogue on CD-ROM

Since 1996 Brinkman's Catalogue has also been available on a 2-volume CD-ROM: The first CD-ROM contains a backfile covering the period 1981-1989 while the second contains a current file covering the period dating from 1990. Each year four updates are made of the current file. The CD-ROM has many applications for retrieving and using the information stored within it. One application is downloading the bibliographic entries in Unimarc-format.

A-list of the Dutch Bibliography / A-lijst van de Nederlandse Bibliografie

One spin-off from Brinkman's Catalogue is the A-list of the Dutch Bibliography. This is published weekly in Boekblad: nieuwsblad voor het boekenvak [Book Magazine: News Bulletin for the Book Trade]. (7) The A-list can be used in particular to provide a timely signal regarding recently published books and new journals which are important for commercial channels. The A-list is arranged according to the UNESCO-classification system. A few categories have been added to this system, such as school books, sheet music and, since 1994, electronic publications too. An author and title-index refers to the classification numbers.

B-list of the Dutch Bibliography / B-lijst van de Nederlandse Bibliografie

Another spin-off of the Brinkman is the monthly B-list of the Dutch Bibliography. The B-list contains titles of publications published in the Netherlands by governing bodies, scientific institutions and other similar organizations; including theses and other academic treatises. The titles on the B-list are arranged in exactly the same way as the titles on the A-list. The B-list contains an index of corporate authors, alongside its author and title-index.

Bibliography of Maps

Cartographic material, such as maps, atlases, etc. are also included in the Depot of Dutch Publications. During the years 1975 up to and including 1982 the KB published a Bibliography of Maps published in the Netherlands (De bibliografie van in Nederland verschenen kaarten) . After 1982 a break in continuity existed with regard to the publication of this bibliography. This was caused when a temporary system of inputting data was introduced, from which it proved difficult to create output. In 1994 the publication was brought out once again, this time with an overview of the cartographic material that had been published in the Netherlands during the period 1991-1993. The Bibliography of Cartographic Material published in the Netherlands (Bibliografie van in Nederland verschenen kartografische materialen) has been a part of Brinkman's Catalogue since 1994 and is produced using the Centrale Catalogus Kartografie (CCK) [Central Cartography Catalogue], an automated cataloguing system specifically designed for describing maps.

The Dutch Book in Translation

The Bibliography of translations of North and South Netherlands works, the Dutch Book in Translation [Bibliografie van vertalingen van Noord- en Zuidnederlandse werken, Het Nederlandse Boek in Vertaling] contains the translated works of Dutch authors, with the exception of translations in the field of the exact sciences and is published by the KB. The last edition to appear covers the years 1988 up to and including 1992. The next quinquennial overview will be published shortly.

Nederlands Bibliografisch Centrum (NBC) - The Netherlands Centre for Bibliography

The activities and products of the current Dutch Bibliography are carried out and realized under the auspices of the collaborative efforts of the Nederlands Bibliografisch Centrum (NBC). The NBC was established in 1983 (8) to promote the development and dissemination of bibliographic informati-on regarding the current Dutch Bibliography. Within the NBC the Koninklijke Bibliotheek, the Association of Dutch Publishers, the Association of Dutch and Flemish book dealers, and the Dutch library institutions are represented. The NBC concerns itself with the coordination of and, where desirable and feasible, the concentration of activities related to the Dutch Bibliography, maintaining the quality of the Dutch Bibliography and sustaining international contacts. The NBC also stimulates and finances research in the area of the Dutch Bibliography. The Secretariat of the NBC is administered by the KB.


The Central Boekhuis (CB) is responsible for recording the ISBN numbers of all the books published in the Netherlands and is the communal property of the Dutch associations of publishers and booksellers. For the vast majority of Dutch publishers it represents the central distribution centre to book sellers. The Dutch ISBN-office is housed at the CB. This is an outstanding example of the ISBN's role as an aid in distributing books. The Dutch ISBNs and an abridged bibliographic description are published in a list entitled Catalogue of the Stock of the Centraal Boekhuis [Voor-raadcatalogus van het Centraal Boekhuis] and on a CD-ROM called CB-link. (9)

From 1981 until 1996 the KB, in collaboration with the ISBN Office, conducted the Cataloguing in Publication (CIP)-programme, as a part of the Dutch Bibliography. However, the KB, in consultati-on with the Nederlands Bibliografisch Centrum, eventually decided to end the activities of the CIP. This decision was based on a reduction in the use of CIP data, combined with an increase in alternative avenues for the publication of bibliographic entries of books scheduled for publication (the CB-link CD-ROM ) and the need for the KB to balance its human resources against available financial means.


The KB is responsible for recording all serial publications published in the Netherlands using the International Standard Serial Number (ISSN). The ISSN allocation is integrated in the cataloguing of new serial publications which are collected at the Depot of Dutch Publications. Newly published serial publications are included in Brinkman's Catalogue. It goes without saying that the Dutch ISSNs are also included in the database of the ISSN International Centre. This international ISSN database is only one of the items available on the ISSN Compact CD-ROM.

Retrospective Dutch Bibliography

Short Title Catalogue Netherlands (STCN)

Work on the Short Title Catalogue Netherlands (STCN) has been going on since 1982. (10) The STCN incorporates all the books and journals that have appeared within the present Dutch national boundaries in the period up to 1800 and all the works in the Dutch language which were published elsewhere during this period, with (at present) the exception of those works published in Belgium. Books printed from the discovery of the printing press up until 1541 are already described in the Dutch incunabula and postincunabula bibliographies. The STCN has borrowed brief descriptions from these bibliographies. All of the works are described according to the principles of the current analytical bibliography, this means that it is based on an autopsy; the entries are made with the actual book in one's hand. This helps to avoid a situation leading to a compilation of different types of bibliographic entries and an unreliable and unwieldy electronic amalgam of titles. The work is carried out in stages according to collection and period, etc. The collections dating from 1540-1700 which belong to the KB and the University Libraries of Amsterdam and Leiden have been completely processed. The collections dating from 1540-1700 which belong to the University Library of Utrecht and the British Library are currently being processed, as is the case with the collection dating from 1701-1800 belonging to the KB. Meanwhile, the STCN file contains 70,000 bibliographic entries and is accessible via PICA as an online retrieval file.

Dutch Bibliography 1801-1832 (Nederlandse Bibliografie 1801-1832)

The Dutch Bibliography 1801-1832 was devised by the KB during the years 1984-1989 to fill up the vacuum left by the STCN, which ends with the year 1800, and the first edition of Brinkman's Catalogue, which begins with the year 1833. (11) The entries in this bibliography have been made using a variety of available sources. The most importance sources of information were Lists of Titles published by A.B. Saakes, a book seller from this period, and data from the Union Catalogues of the KB. The Nederlandse Bibliografie 1801-1832 was published in 1993.

Shared Cataloguing

The Dutch bibliography is produced using the shared cataloguing system of PICA. In the 1970s, PICA (Project Integrated Catalogue Automation) was set up on the initiative of the KB and a few of the larger university libraries. By 1979 the PICA cataloguing system was fully operational. Under the title Gemeenschappelijk Geautomatiseerd Catalogiseersystem (GGC) [Communal Automated Cataloguing system] this system became an important tool for constructing the catalogues of all the participating libraries. Initially, those taking part included the KB and a number of university libraries. The large public libraries joined later. Eventually, a large number of libraries belonging to technical colleges and polytechnics, as well as some special libraries, followed suit. The central cataloguing for public libraries by the Nederlands Bibliotheek- en Lectuur Centrum (NBLC) is also made using the GGC. Since 1982 all the cataloguing for the Depot of Dutch Publications, and subsequently the realization of the Dutch Bibliography, has been carried out using the GGC.

The GGC is the cornerstone of the Union Catalogue of the Netherlands. Interlibrary loans, for which all kinds of automated functions are linked to the GGC, is driven almost exclusively by this system. Alongside this, PICA also develops a variety of online files, among others the above mentioned STCN and the subsidiary file of the Dutch Bibliography entitled Grey Literature in the Netherlands (GLIN) [Grijze Literatuur in Nederland]. Besides operating the shared cataloguing system and developing the Union Catalogue of the Netherlands and the IBL, PICA also delivers systems for library applications such as acquisition, subscription registrations, lending and online catalogues.

Cataloguing Rules

ISBD is the general standard for bibliographic entries in the Netherlands. The different ISBDs which have been provided under the auspices of the IFLA UBCIM Programme have been translated into Dutch. Twelve sets of Rules on how to enter bibliographic data are available. (12) These comprise the ISBDs for the various sources, specific rules governing the construction of a catalogue in the Netherlands, rules on how to sort and a book containing examples. The Dutch Cataloguing Committee (Hoofdcommissie Catalogiseren) of the umbrella organization for Dutch library institutions (FOBID) is responsible for compiling the rules on how to enter bibliographic data.


The Depot of Dutch Publications and the Dutch Bibliography represent the key responsibility of the KB and, as such, spearhead the policy of the KB. The collection, description and safeguarding of the cultural heritage which is represented in publications, is the undisputed task of a national library. Now that an increasing number of publications are appearing in electronic format, alongside paper publications, it will be the task of the Depot and the bibliography to process publications on this new category too. (13) In the past few years the KB has carried out a number of pilot studies and experiments in preparation for the establishment of a Depot of Electronic Publications. An agreement has already been made with the publishers Elsevier and Kluwer Academic whereby the electronic versions of their journals will be stored at the KB. Meanwhile, there is also an agreement with the Netherlands Association of Publishers through which the association has urged its members to deposit their offline publications, free of charge, at the Depot. By the end of 1997 as many as 450 CD-ROMs and discs had been collected and described. The transition from an experimental to an operational Depot for electronic publications has already begun, although a number of technical issues such as how to save the electronic (and specifically online) documents and the provision for long-term storage still have to be solved. IBM's Digital Library system has been selected by the KB to meet these needs.


  1. International Congress on national bibliographies, organized by UNESCO... in collaboration with IFLA, Paris, 1978. Guidelines for the National Bibliographic Agency and the National Bibliography / prepared by the IFLA International Office for UBC.- 1979

  2. Willemsen, A.W. - Het wettelijk depot van publikaties in Nederland. - In: Boeken verzamelen : opstellen aangeboden aan mr. J.R. de Groot bij zijn afscheid als bibliothecaris der Rijksuniversiteit te Leiden. - Leiden : Bibliotheek der Rijksuniversiteit, 1983. - p. 320-331. Scholten, G. - Het Depot van Nederlandse Publikaties en de Nederlandse Bibliografie. - In: Opstellen over de Koninklijke Bibliotheek en andere studies. - Hilversum : Verloren, 1986. - p. 67-84

  3. Beek, H.J. van. - De aanwezigheid van publikaties bij het Depot van Nederlandse Publikaties. - ?s-Gravenhage : Bibliotheekraad, 1983

  4. Voorbij, H.J., Douma, P.J.M.. -Hoe volledig is het Depot? : een onderzoek naar de volledig-heid van de collectie van het Depot van Nederlandse publikaties. - Den Haag : Koninklijke Bibliotheek, 1996

  5. Kouwenhoven, A.O. - Indeling tot de bibliografie. - 2e geheel herz. dr. - Assen [etc.] : Van Gorcum, 1989

  6. Brinkman's Catalogus, the CD-ROM of Brinkman's Catalogus, the B-lijst of the Dutch Bibliography, and the Dutch Bibliography 1801-1832 are published by the publishing company Bohn Stafleu Van Loghum, Houten, Nederland

  7. Boekblad is published by Media Business Press, Rotterdam

  8. Willemsen, A.W. - De lange weg naar een Nederlands Bibliografisch Centrum. - In: Open 16 (1984), no. 1 p. 3-19

  9. These products are especially useful to book sellers. They also contain information on the availability of publications.

  10. Gruys, J.A., Vriesema, P.C.A., Wolf, C. De. - Dutch national bibliography 1540-1800: the STCN. - In: Querendo 13 (1983), p. 149-160

  11. Saalmink, L.G. - Bibliografische ontsluiting van Nederlandse publicaties 1801-1832. - In: Open (1985), vol. 21, nr. 3 - p. 96-99

  12. The publisher of the rules on how to record titles is the Nederlands Bibliotheek- en Lektuur-centrum (NBLC), The Hague

  13. The legal deposit of electronic publications / prepared by a Working Group of the Conference of Directors of National Libraries (CDNL): www.unesco.org/webworld/memory/legaldep.htm