National Library Service - SBN

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.

  • The first hubs were established in 1985: the National Central Libraries of Rome and Florence.
  • In 1992, as other hubs were linked to the SBN network, the central system, called  SBN Index ,started up, thus launching a national network through the linking of local hubs to the national Index.
  • Since 1997, the information held in the SBN index is available to the public through the OPAC (On line Public Access Catalogue) system, the SBN Catalogue, which over time has adopted various types of interfaces.
  • In 2002, the SBN Index Evolution was launched. It rationalizes, integratesand restructures the Indexcentral database; the cooperation with other systemsand the  management of  diversified cooperation levels are also  expected to be realized.
The SBN Index multimedia database, which currently includes ancient and modern material, music, graphic art and maps, audiovisual can be consulted online 24 hours a day at the following address: -, and through Gateway Z39.50 of the Library of Congress or in TCP / IP mode with any Z39.50 client.