Koninklijke bibliotheek

Literatuurplein – a Literary Treasure Trove

Literatuurplein – a Literary treasure trove

Literatuurplein.nl is a unique concept created by Jef van Gool. Most of all it’s an extensive website which stimulates interest in Dutch Literature and promotes an interest in reading. Together with the software company “the Dutch Republic“, they launched a first version of Literatuurplein back in 2004. Unfortunately, the site didn’t meet their expectations, so they turned to BSL for advice. We were asked to investigate how the software was written and to suggest how it could be improved. Our advice was:

  • design a new data model and use a more advanced database
  • introduce a virtual book concept (representing multiple editions)
  • add high-performance, flexible free text search technology
  • adopt a modern Java platform

The client took this advice to heart. As a result they decided to rebuild the product, and they asked BSL to carry out the work. We designed and developed a completely new Literatuurplein over a period of 4-5 months. The new site was an immediate success. Furthermore, due to the good partnership, we’ve continued to work on many follow-up projects. First of all adding many new features, but also modifying the site as the library infrastructure and standards changed.

Literatuurplein – een literaire schatkist
Literatuurplein – een literaire schatkist

Move with the times

During the development of a new Literatuurplein.nl we switched to an Oracle database and Oracle Text. The use of Oracle Text enabled us to introduce an intelligent search engine, making content in the site easier to maintain and to find. In the years that followed, our developers have continuously improved the technology and infrastructure of the website.

In 2012, the new product owner, Stichting Bibliotheek.nl (or BNL), asked BSL to adapt Literatuurplein to their own house style. At the same time, we added a major new feature – the users were given the opportunity to personalize their home pages. In addition, we introduced a wide range of widgets so that public libraries throughout the Netherlands can use Literatuurplein contents on their own websites. We currently provide more than 20 library services (such as literary news, and a literary agenda) using Literatuurplein web-services. As result, hundreds of libraries make use of Literatuurplein content in the Netherlands.

In 2015 Literatuurplein was taken over by the Royal Library (KB). Their first priority was to integrate the BNL infrastructure within their organization. At the end of 2016, KB asked us to update the site so that it meets current standards. Most noteworthy, the site became fully responsive – easy to use on both mobiles and desktop browsers.

“BSL believes it is important to keep up with current trends and developments. With more than four million visitors a year, Literatuurplein is an intensively used website. Therefore it’s important that the site is accessible by all users. Since the use of  site on mobile devices is increasing, creating a fully responsive website was our number one priority.”


Front-end Developer , Bright Side of Life

A great success

Literatuurplein has been a well-known and established name in the world of Dutch literature for years. The website attracts no fewer than 4,000,000 visitors annually. Literatuurplein now contains information describing more than 700,000 books, and more than 320,000 authors. There are more than 3,500 news items to be found.

New articles are added each day, and new titles are imported and updated using sources such as NBD Biblion and Centraal Boekhuis automatically. In addition, a team of editors adds new content such as reviews, columns, podcasts and videos. Because of the extensive literary agenda, Literatuurplein visitors are always aware of literary events and radio and TV programs with literature as their theme.


“With regard to technical development and infrastructure management, The Bright Side of Life in Breukelen has been a particularly constructive and creative partner for all these years.”

Jef van Gool

Product Owner

At BSL, you’re at the right address for…

Expert in search technologies

BSL has a broad experience in developing complex online database solutions. This expertise came in handy during the management of the contents of Literatuurplein. Literary databases are often very complex…

  • authors’ names are often written in different ways – and sometimes misspelt by users when searching
  • authors may use pseudonyms –  and publishers use varied notations
  • books exist in multiple editions – with some attributes shared (eg: titles), but some separate (ISBN / EAN)
  • users often search for partial titles – requiring special matching rules
Trends & developments

It is important that websites go along with current trends and developments. Even the most beautiful and technical websites are not up-to-date after a few years. That is why it is important to update the technical aspects of the website after a number of years. This is the perfect time to take a critical look at the design and content of the website. Are there functions that are missing or functions that are used too little?

Long-term support

When a software product has gone into production, users often need support and maintenance for the longer term. That is why we offer our customers a range of flexible support services. In the case of Literatuurplein this means 7 days a week support to the KB and its Literatuurplein users.

You’re welcome to get in touch with me if you have a project in mind, or want to discuss how best to approach your next development project.


Relations Manager, Bright Side of Life

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