Library of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano

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The Library of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano
Type University Library
Established 1998
Location Bolzano

The Library of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano is in Bolzano, Italy. The Library's books and other media are mainly in the three languages of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano (German, Italian and English). In the Brixen premises there are also books and media in Ladin. The main library is in Bolzano (Universitätsplatz 1 - piazza Università, 1) and the other two premises are in Brixen and Bruneck. The Library works closely with the oldest scientific library in the province, at the University of Theology and Philosophy in Brixen. Indeed the entire Brixen library collection was house at the University of Theology until the new campus in Brixen was completed.


The Free University of Bozen-Bolzano was founded in 1997, as was the University Library. Thanks to the financial support of the Südtiroler Sparkasse Foundation, the Library was and still is able to develop and to realize extensive, innovative and internationally based concepts. Another determining factor in the creation of the Library was to establish an institution which is geared towards students' needs but which also should encourage the local community in South Tyrol to use the services and expertise provided by the Library. In 1998 the Library was the first institution in South Tyrol whose collection became accessible through an online catalogue. This was the first but crucial step for the setup of an eLibrary.


Like the University itself, the Library has three locations: Bolzano, Brixen and Bruneck but Bolzano functions as the central library. The primary organization structure is based on team spirit. This kind of organization has turned out to be very efficient and so it was enlarged in 2008. Four overlapping departments have been founded:

  • Online Services & Resources (Digital Library)
  • Subject & Liaison Librarians (specialist counselling and support of students and scientists)
  • Customer Service (non-electronic library services and customer service)
  • Media processing (acquisition, local public infrastructure and allocation of information carriers and information).

All parts of the library system (Bolzano, Brixen and Bruneck) are one organizational structure under the same central administration. The library services of departments which are not situated on the University campus, like the Language Centre or training workshops are coordinated and supervised by the central library in Bolzano or the libraries in Brixen or Bruneck.

Main Tasks[edit]

The main task of the Library of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano is to provide the information required for teaching and learning, research and lifelong learning. One of the library’s strengths is the construction of an up-to-date collection which is orientated towards the future. The demand-orientated selection is the task of the appropriate liaison librarians and it always first takes into consideration the University’s requirements. The other main tasks are:

  • the construction and development of a digital library
  • the mediation of information literacy through courses, instruction and training
  • the allocation of various spaces for sophisticated styles of science and learning
  • the development of innovative solutions and active participation in research projects, networking with national and international partners.


During the academic year the Library in Bolzano remains open until midnight. In the 2009/2010 academic year, the opening hours during the exam period were extended for Free University of Bozen-Bolzano students and the Library was open on Sundays. Graduates, postgraduates and academic staff can have unlimited access. If library users need media which is not available, they can make a suggestion by filling in a form on the Library’s homepage. Interlibrary Loan and Document Delivery: it is the task of Interlibrary Loan to make any media or special scientific literature accessible which are not available on the market anymore or which cannot be found in the provincial libraries. Since 2005 all internal customers (students, scientists and academic staff) have been able to receive the ordered articles electronically and therefore without delay straight to their workplace as soon as the document has reached the Library. Since 2006 the Library has been concentrating on the field of information literacy. The University Press is the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano’s own publishing company. Since November 2007 the Library has been coordinating this service. The Library offers a free delivery service between the libraries of Bruneck, Brixen and Bolzano. As soon as the ordered media reach the appropriate library, the user who has requested it is informed. Since February 2007 there has also been a delivery service between the University Library and the Schlandersburg Library in Schlanders (Vinschgau) that operates once a week. Since 2010 media can also be ordered from the Library of the Micurà de Rü Ladin Cultural Institute in San Martin de Tor in Val Badia.

Spaces and Facilities[edit]

At the beginning, there were no buildings available to house the libraries as they first had to be planned and to be constructed. The libraries were therefore located in temporary premises. The Library in Bolzano was situated in the former hospital in the city centre of Bolzano. The Brixen library was housed in the University of Theology and Philosophy in Brixen. This library was enlarged and rebuilt to accommodate the University Library collections. Although today these two scientific libraries are divided location-wise, they still work together closely. Following the construction projects for the University’s new premises, the libraries in Bolzano and Brixen became integrated into the new buildings (completion in Bolzano in 2003 and in Brixen in 2004). On both locations a poll regarding the satisfaction of the new buildings was conducted, the results of which are available on the homepage. Both libraries cover several floors. The rooms offer enough space for the books and other media as well as for numerous work spaces. In Bolzano the designers planned the library following the concept of “individual learning profiles”. Library users have the choice to work either in general work spaces or in different sized rooms for team work as well as "Carrel”, which are self-contained cabins for one or two users. Carrels are only available for students of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano. Students and employees of the University are also able to make use of the wireless LAN. For the Bruneck library a new building is provided. Once completed, it will house the University Library, the Public Library, the historical city archives and the estate of the author, N.C. Kaser. The new library will have seven floors: the ground floor, two lower basement levels and four upper floors. Completion is estimated for 2015.

Collections and departments of the Library[edit]

Collection (as of 06/2011): 203,102 Books; 18,417 E-Books; 1,184 Subscribed Journals; 18,272 E-Journals via EZB; 51,029 E-Resources via SFX; 86 Databases. The Library’s collection is based on the study and research areas of the University’s departments (the Language Centre) and the five faculties of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano. The collection covers the following subject areas: economics, law, agricultural sciences, engineering, pedagogy, psychology, sociology, computer science, art and linguistics. In addition media from related academic fields and for language acquisition are acquired. Because of the University’s trilingualism, most of the media are in German, Italian or English. For the acquisition of books and other media, the Library follows clearly defined patterns and inserts Approval Plans. The library is also committed to fulfilling the current needs of its users. The suggestions they make tend to be acted upon quickly and users can use the media without any bureaucratic obstacles. Since autumn 2009 the Library has been offering a great number of e-books. The University Library’s collections are catalogued according to the RVK (= Regensburger Verbundklassifikation). The whole collection can be accessed and searches can be made on the online catalogue.


Most of the money to finance the Library comes from the provincial government of South Tyrol. A small percentage comes from the Governmental Department for Education, University and Research and from tuition fees. The Südtiroler Sparkasse Foundation supports the University and therefore also the Library. The Südtiroler Sparkasse Foundation also finances special projects.


Since its foundation, the Library has sought to work with departments in the University and external institutions, especially for digital innovations. One of the first projects was the translation of the RVK (= Regensburger Verbundklassifikation) into English and Italian. The library decided to use this system because it is well suited for a large collection and it is user-friendly. In 1999 guidelines for the translation of the RVK were adapted for the first time and they were recorded in the “Brixener Richtlinien” document (29 July 1999).
In collaboration with the Faculty of Computer Science of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, “Chatterbot Bob” had been developed, which was integrated into the Library’s homepage in 2006. The “Cybrarian” is available for questions 24/7. “He” supports the work done by the librarians and therefore improves accessibility to the Library.
Another research project, together with the Faculty of Computer Science and which was sponsored by the European Union, dealt with “The Development of Multilingual Retrieval systems”, and was called CACAO (Cross-Language Access to Catalogues and On-Line Libraries). The MuSIL (Multilingual Search in Libraries) multilingual search system, which was developed by the Library in cooperation with the Faculty of Computer Science and CELI, and which has been online since October 2007, was the basis for this EU project and has been the first result of this research collaboration.
By using the South Tyrol scientific network, users are either able to search several catalogues at the same time (Meta-Catalogue) or to search in one particular catalogue only.
The user interface is available in German, Italian, Ladin or English. Currently the following libraries are participating:

  • Library of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano
  • Library of EURAC Research
  • Library of the University of Theology and Philosophy of Brixen
  • Library of the Museion
  • Library of the German Pedagogic Institute and the German Education Authority
  • Library of the Micurà de Rü Ladin Cultural Institute in San Martin de Tor in Val Badia.


The leading information facilities on the Innsbruck-Bozen-Trento axis decided to cooperate in a more intensive way by realizing different projects and services. Together with the Laimburg Research Centre for Agriculture and Forestry and the Südtiroler Bauernbund, the Library is working on a virtual agricultural catalogue. There is a further cooperation with the ESSPER-Service, which evaluates the Italian economic journals. The Library has also made an agreement with the Library of the Museion (the Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art), with the Library of the University of Theology and Philosophy of Brixen and with Eurac research so that each institution can make use of the collections held by the others.


Over the past couple of years, the Library of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano has been participating in various evaluation processes with other libraries. Like all the other libraries, the Library of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano makes use of the “BIX” (=Bibliotheksindex) benchmarking system for scientific libraries. In this way, the Library knows its position among other libraries and can therefore improve its services. “GIM” (Gruppo Interuniversitario per il Monitoraggio dei Sistemi Bibliotecari di Ateneo) is the Italian benchmarking system and encourages libraries to compare themselves with other libraries. This organization has existed since 2000 and supports libraries’ further development.

  • 2012: 4 stars in the BIX
  • 2011: 2nd place in the BIX
  • 2010: 3rd place in the BIX
  • 2009: 2nd place in the BIX
  • 2008: 2nd place in the BIX


  • Gerda Winkler [et al.], Informationskompetenz in Südtirol: Entwicklungsstand und Perspektiven. In: Handbuch Informationskompetenz, Berlin 2012, S. 532
  • Die Bibliothek/La biblioteca/The Library : Happy Birthday (Festschrift zum 10-jährigen Bestehen)""
  • Annual Report 2011 (PDF)
  • Annual Report 2010 (PDF)
  • Annual Report 2009 (PDF)
  • Annual Report 2008 (PDF)
  • Annual Report 2006 (PDF)
  • Annual Report 2004/2005 (PDF)
  • Luigi Siciliano, Multilinguality and Metadata Interoperability: the CACAO Project Experience. In: Enrich Final Conference Proceedings, Biblioteca Nacional de España, Madrid 2009, pp. 69-75. (PDF)
  • Paolo Buoso e Luigi Siciliano, Catalogo e ricerca multilingue: il progetto CACAO. In Il mondo in biblioteca, la biblioteca nel mondo, atti del convegno delle Stelline tenutosi a Milano dal 12 al 13 marzo 2009, Editrice Bibliografica, Milano, in corso di stampa
  • Ulrike Kugler, Mein Name ist BOB. Ich bin ein Cybrarian. In: Academia#49. Das Wissenschaftsmagazin der Europäischen Akademie, 1/2009, S.47
  • Elisabeth Frasnelli [et al.], The Specification of the Language of the Field and Interoperability: Cross-Language Access to Catalogues an Online Libraries (CACAO). In: Metadata for semantic and social applications. Proceedings of the International Conference on Dublin Core and Metadata Applications, Berlin, 22 - 26 September 2008, DC 2008: Berlin, Germany, S. 191-196. (PDF)
  • Elisabeth Frasnelli, Ulrike Kugler [et al.], Multilingual Search in Libraries. The case-study of the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano. (PDF)
  • Elisabeth Frasnelli, Spazi e servizi per gli utenti: l'approccio della Biblioteca Universitaria di Bolzano. In: Archittetura della biblioteca e identità universitaria. Atti del convegno, Firenze, 28 - 29 settembre 2006, S. 218-226.
  • Elisabeth Frasnelli, La Biblioteca della Libera Università di Bolzano. In: Rassegna. Periodico dell'Istituto Pedagogico, n. 18, 2002
  • Elisabeth Frasnelli, Qualitätskontrolle und Qualitätspolitik bei der bibliothekarischen Leistungserstellung. Der Ansatz der Universitätsbibliothek Bozen. In: Franz Berger und Klaus Kempf (Hrsg.), Universitätsreform und Medienrevolution - eine Herausforderung für Hochschulbibliotheken. Beiträge der internationalen Fachtagung in Bozen, 28. - 29. September 2000, S. 105-118.

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 46°29′53″N 11°21′03″E / 46.49818°N 11.35075°E / 46.49818; 11.35075