Literatuurplein – a literary treasure trove

Literatuurplein – a literary treasure troveLiteratuurplein was a concept created by the ‘Vereniging van Openbare Bibliotheken‘ (VOB). This  was then the branch organization of – and for – the Dutch public libraries. In 2010, the VOB was replaced by the ‘Sectorinstituut Openbare Bibliotheken‘ (SIOB). It is now part of the Royal Library of the Netherlands (KB).

The collaboration between BSL and the KB dates back to 2004, when BSL took over support of the Literatuurplein Content Management System and databases, as well as their public web sites Literatuurplein.nl and Boekbalie.nl

Managing the contents of the Literatuurplein (and any literary database) is complex…

  • authors’ names are often written in different ways – and sometimes misspelt by users when searching
  • authors may use pseudonyms – each with their own title credits
  • books exist in multiple editions – with some attributes shared (eg: titles), but some separate (ISBN / EAN)
  • the Literatuurplein combines data from many sources, but must preserve local CMS content during updates
  • users often search for partial titles – requiring special matching rules
  • The web site supports searches on more than 40 characteristics – in almost any combination.

The Literatuurplein database contains information describing over one million media titles, and details for over 750,000 authors/contributors. More than twenty different types of content are associated with these titles and/or authors, including:

  • Up-to-date literary news – news items; book of the week, new titles carousel; interviews with authors; videos; specials linked to country-wide activities (such as the national boekenweek); articles about the digital revolution within libraries, and publishing; a literary agenda – including all the forthcoming programs on radio and TV.
  • Documentary content: literary prizes; literary world-maps – based on birth/death locations for authors – and locations associated with titles; literary timeline linking titles to important events and periods in Dutch history; The Canon of Dutch History; the e-books Gallery of Honour.
  • Interactive events: literary excursions; literary courses; events/presentations organized within libraries and by publishers.

Oracle Database and OracleText

We reviewed the existing software, and recommended moving to an Oracle™ database and Oracle Text™ search. This recommendation was accepted, even though it meant rewriting the existing software. Our extensive experience in the development of complex online databases storing data and multimedia meant we could create a new Literatuurpein database and web site in just four months.

Success

The new web site has been a great success from the start, with users enthusiastic about the (search) performance and flexibility, the modular home page – and above all – the content. Literatuurplein now attracts millions of visitors each year, and the contents are used to update hundreds of web sites throughout the Netherlands each day with literary news, as well as our own Boekwijzer app.

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