Planning centre for scientific librarianship

As a first predecessor of today’s OBVSG and located at the Austrian National Library, the Planning Office for Scientific Librarianship (in German: Planungsstelle für wissenschaftliches Bibliothekswesen) was founded in 1974. In 1995 the consortium agenda was transferred from the National Library to the Austrian Federal Ministry of Science, Research and Arts, where a new Working Group on Library Automation was established, consisting of 9 FTEs.

Working Group on Library Automation (AGBA)

After its organizational separation from the Austrian National Library, the new Working Group on Library Automation (in German Arbeitsgruppe Bibliotheksautomation, abbreviated as AGBA) relocated to Garnisongasse in the 9th district of Vienna. Key task, besides support and operation of the existing ILS (integrated library management system) BIBOS-2, was to run the tender procedure for a succeeding new ILS software. In 1998 the product Aleph has been chosen, which is supplied by the Israeli company Ex Libris. Start of production followed at the beginning of 1999. With January 2002, the Working Group on Library Automation was transferred to a private company, still fully owned by the state of Austria. At the same time its name has been changed to Austrian Library Network and Services Ltd. (in German "Die Österreichische Bibliothekenverbund und Service Gesellschaft m. b. H.", abbreviated as OBVSG).

The Austrian Library Network and Service Ltd. (OBVSG)

After privatisation, the central services of OBVSG are still secured by governmental means, especially the operational management of the library consortium, including ongoing planning, realization and representation as well as running the consortium headquarters with central databases and all other central services. At the same time, OBVSG has been enabled to build up new services and open new business areas. The newly founded company developed different models for hardware and software maintenance for small and medium libraries, including services for server monitoring and systems administration and systems librarian support for the Aleph Integrated Library System. During these days, OBVSG also developed the concept of sharing single instances of Aleph for several smaller libraries in order to save costs – a service which has been offered as “Aleph-Sharing”.

In December 2008 another milestone followed: OBVSG licensed the discovery and delivery software Primo. The launch of the consortium installation followed one year later in December 2009. Many institutions of the Austrian Library Network (OBV) adopted the new service in order to build institutional search portals for their library holdings on basis of modern search engine technology. The central evidence of scientific literature in Austria (“Verbundsuchmaschine”, i.e. consortium search portal) started using Primo with a state of the art user interface in March 2011. In the same year, OBVSG decided to follow the general trend in enterprise IT and no longer maintain their own servers on-site, but move them to an external data centre (colocation centre).

Over the years, OBVSG came in closer contact with the Austrian Academic Library Consortium (Kooperation E-Medien Österreich, KEMÖ), which is sharing similar aims. Its main purpose is intensifying collaboration between libraries and archival, information and research institutions concerning e-resources. KEMÖ coordinates acquisition and management of databases, e-journals and e-books. On July 1, 2008, OBVSG became new legal entity of KEMÖ, whose Head Office moved to OBVSG’s address. OBVSG also was in charge of operative support. With the beginning of 2015, KEMÖ Head Office finally became a department of OBVSG.

In 2013 OBVSG started providing the software Visual Library in a consortium environment. With this you can either opt for the basis module Retro Digitisation or build up an institutional publication server for theses and open access publications.

In September 2015, after a two-year tendering and selection process, the acquisition of the next generation library management solution Alma became the basis for a successful future of the Austrian Library Network. In 2017 the first libraries switched to Alma. Since early 2018 the primary bibliographic core ís managed with Alma. By the end of 2021 all members of the consortium switched from Aleph to Alma, until then both systems were operated in parallel.

On July 24, 2020, an amendment to the OBVSG Establishment Act was published in the Austrian Federal Law Gazette. It came into effect on January 1, 2021, expanding the range of tasks of OBVSG while further strengthening cooperation within the association. The most significant innovation was the integration of the Central Office of the Association for Education and Culture (Verbund für Bildung und Kultur, VBK) into OBVSG. The amendment also assigned further tasks to OBVSG: the further development of central association services, the provision of central basic infrastructure for open access and digital preservation (long-term availability) in the area of scholarly and artistic publishing, and the coordination of the Shared Archiving (Storing) Austria initiative.

In 2020, OBVSG and the Austrian National Library successfully completed their joint EU-wide tender process for a system for digital long-term preservation. In 2022, the Austrian National Library went into production as the first client of the consortium-based system.

The continuous demand for new services, of which this overview is listing only the most important, had an impact on manpower and office of the company. While in 2002 there were only 10 employees on the payroll of the company, OBVSG has grown to over 40 by October 2022. Accordingly, office space became a scarce resource so that in 2004, OBVSG had to move from Garnisongasse to Brünnlbadgasse (still in the 9th district), where after some years a branch office had to be opened due to space limitations. Finally in 2013 OBVSG moved to its current office in Raimundgasse in the second district of Vienna.