Consortium of Icelandic Libraries
The Consortium of Icelandic Libraries (Landskerfi bókasafna hf.) was established on 14 November 2001 by the State and municipalities of Iceland. The company was founded to operate a shared library system for Iceland and had been put out to tender in the EEA the previous year.
Leading up to the project, a committee was established in 1998 by the Minister of Education for the purpose of submitting proposals for the selection of a new library system that could suit all libraries in Iceland, including the National and University Library of Iceland (Landsbókasafn Íslands), public libraries, school libraries and research libraries. The committee’s overarching aim was to further streamline the operation of libraries by eradicating the duplication of work in the registration of bibliographic and user information and to avoid the operation and maintenance of multiple library systems with the attendant costs. In addition, the goal was to ensure equality among Icelanders by making the collection of each library, or all the libraries in the country as a whole, accessible on the Internet. The committee proposed that one library system and a single catalogue should serve all the libraries in Iceland, which led to the idea of merging all libraries in Iceland into a single national system.
The result of the invitation to tender for a library system for Iceland was that negotiations were initiated with Ex Libris for the purchase of the Aleph library system. The system was given the name Gegnir in Icelandic. The system formally opened on 19 May 2003.
In 2006, the SFX link resolver system was adopted for the universities and some of the research libraries in the partnership. The next major step in the system operation was achieved in 2011 when the search and discovery portal leitir.is was launched. The site is based on the Primo software from Ex Libris. From the very beginning the aim was to not only provide access to library collections through the portal, but also to other collections such as museums, art galleries and photography collections. In the autumn of 2013, the company undertook the operation of the cultural-historical database Sarpur which is owned by a separate company named the Sarpur Management Company (Rekstrarfélag Sarps). This is a system based on software that was specifically developed for this project.
One of the main characteristics of the systems that the company represents is that they are operated on a national level. Gegnir is open to all libraries in Iceland and most of them, i.e. some 270, have taken advantage of the offer. Leitir.is is also a nation-wide search portal – and the same applies to the cultural-historical database Sarpur. Another characteristic of the company is that it manages system operations for Icelandic libraries but not their subscriptions. All subscriptions to collections are managed by the libraries themselves or by the Iceland Consortium for Electronic Subscriptions (Landsaðgangur að rafrænum áskriftum), hvar.is, a partnership that has been around since 1999.
When the Consortium of Icelandic Libraries was established, its shareholders were the Icelandic State and 26 local authorities around Iceland. Numerous municipalities have since joined the group and there are shareholders around sixty at present.