The National Library Service (Servizio Bibliotecario Nazionale - SBN) is the network of Italian libraries promoted by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities and Tourism, with the cooperation of regional administrations and universities. It is coordinated by the Central Institute for the Union Catalogue of Italian Libraries and for Bibliographic Information (ICCU).
The SBN network was established on the basis of a memorandum of understanding signed by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, the Ministry of Universities and Scientific and Technological Research and the Conference of Italian Regions with the goal of overcoming the fragmentation of library resources typifying Italy’s socio-political history. Today, the network includes state, local, university, school, public and private institutional libraries performing their activities in various discipline branches.
The libraries taking part in SBN are grouped together into local hubs including a variable number of libraries which manage all their services through automated procedures. The hubs are linked to the SBN Index system, core of the network; this system, managed by ICCU, manages the collective catalogue of the publications acquired by the SBN libraries.
Through SBN procedures, libraries can work independently while being integrated in a cooperative system based on a national network. The main feature that makes this integration possible is shared cataloguing. Indeed, within the SBN system any given document is catalogued only by the first network library that acquires it. All the other libraries that have to catalogue the same document, can capture its bibliographic description, already existing in the Index, and add their own location.