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The 22nd Librarian of Leiden University, Johan Remmes de Groot took the initiative for the Dutch library automation endeavor PICA (Project Integrated Catalogue Automation).Pica was started up in 1969 and was bought by OCLC in 2000.The first automation project in Leiden started in 1976, produced 400,000 titles via the Dutch PICA-GGC and resulted within a few years in a catalog on microfiche, which partly replaced the famous Leiden booklets catalogue.
At the time the university was founded, it was immediately determined that a library in the vicinity of lecture halls was an absolute necessity.
The library's first book was the Polyglot Bible, printed by Christoffel Plantijn, a gift of William of Orange to the library in 1575.
The library manages the largest collections worldwide on Indonesia and the Caribbean.
Furthermore, Leiden University Library is the only heritage organization in The Netherlands with three registrations of documents in UNESCO's Memory of the World Register.
Leiden's Catalogue1,000,000 e-books and reference works, many hundreds of millions of journal articles, its digital special collections and repository materials.
These digital information resources are available worldwide to Leiden University students and staff.Since June 1, 2009, the Leiden libraries form one organization: Leiden University Libraries (UBL).Leiden University Libraries has a number of locations: the University Library, the libraries of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Law, Mathematics and Natural Sciences and the East Asian Library.The first online catalogue became available in 1988. Basbanes, Leiden University Library represents "an essential benchmark [...] not only for the teeming collection of extraordinary materials it has scrupulously gathered and maintained over a sustained period of time, but most of all for being the world's first scholarly library in a truly modern sense.The litany of 'firsts' recorded at Leiden is dazzling - the first printed catalogue to be prepared by an institution of its holdings, the first attempt to identify and maintain what today are known as 'special collections,' the first systematic attempt to develop a corps of influential friends, patrons, and benefactors throughout the world, the first 'universal' library, the list goes on and on - and underpinning it all is a humanistic approach to education and discovery that has figured prominently throughout its history, along with an unbending belief in the limitless potential of human inquiry." Leiden University Libraries focuses on the complete information chain.Readers were able to consult alphabetical and systematic registers of the Leiden library in the form of bound catalogue cards, known as Leidse boekjes.This remained the cataloguing system for the library until 1988.The publication of the catalogue coincided with the opening of the new library on the upper floor of the Faliede Bagijnkerk (now Rapenburg 70) next to the Theatrum Anatomicum.In 1864 the copy for the complete alphabetical catalogue of the library in Leiden from 1575 to 1860 was finished; it was never to appear in print.This was due particularly to the simultaneous presence of a unique collection of exceptional sources and scholars.Holdings include approximately 5,200,000 volumes, 1,000,000 e-books, 70,000 e-journals, 2,000 current paper journals, 60,000 Oriental and Western manuscripts, 500,000 letters, 100,000 maps, 100,000 prints, 12,000 drawings and 300,000 photographs.