We continue our LibWorld series with a a Central European country at the crossroads of Pannonian Plain, Southeast Europe, and the Mediterranean Sea: Croatia. As guest authors we welcome Sofija Konjević and Bojan Macan.
Sofija Konjević, MSc Information Science, senior librarian, is employed at the Ruđer Bošković Institute in Zagreb since 1997. She currently works on interlibrary loan and maintains some library web pages. She is interested in electronic journals, worked on electronic journals project and conducted user survey on subject.
Bojan Macan works as a librarian at the Ruđer Boškovic’ Institute Library since 2005. In general he is interested in new technologies in libraries and bibliometrics analysis. At the moment he is working on implementation of open source library management system Koha in the RBI Library and is also involved in Institutional repository project. Bojan is PhD student of Information sciences at the Faculty of Philosophy at the University of Zagreb.
Croatia is a small European country with approximately 4.5 million people. According to research conducted in July 2008 by Gfk-Croatia approximately 50% of citizens older than 15 years have access to the Internet, but only 39% of them are Internet users, what is much less than European average (47%). Internet is mostly used for reading daily news (66%), checking e-mail (64%) and searching via search engines (59%)  Kakva nam je informatička pismenost? (August 28th 2008). URL: http://www.gfk.hr/press1/infopis.htm (Accessed February 10th 2009) . According to the statistical data of the Republic of Croatia – Central Bureau of Statistics in 2001 there were 1953 libraries in Croatia. In 2004, according to same source, there were 1671 libraries  Republic of Croatia – Central bureau of statistics. Statistical Yearbook 2008. http://www.dzs.hr/Hrv_Eng/ljetopis/2008/PDF/28-bind.pdf (Accessed February 16th 2009). .
Croatian blogosphere in general is just a few years old. First blog providers, www.mojblog.hr and www.blog.hr, appeared in 2004.  Drazen Jurman Web. Blog. URL: http://www.djurman.com/tekst/net/chip120_tb1.htm (Accessed February 10th 2009). . Afterwards the number of blogs was growing rapidly. Estimated number of blogs in Croatian blogosphere registered at moj.blog.hr: in 2008 was about half a million  Pola milijuna blogova na Blog.hr-u. URL: http://dnevnik.hr/vijesti/hrvatska/pola-milijuna-blogova-na-blog-hr-u.html (Accessed February 11th 2009). . But the Croatian library community was not so eager in accepting blogs as a new way of communication. Until now, there are only few blogs written by librarians or related to libraries and librarianship. We’ll represent them here chronologically.
The blog Library and Its Surrounding (Biblioteka i oko nje) dates back to 2005 and we can consider it as the oldest Croatian blog which topics are libraries and subjects related to libraries (conference announcement). But this blog has only few posts and the last one dates back to 2007.
Ruđer Bošković Institute Library Blog (Blog Knjižnice Instituta “Ruđer Bošković”) (http://knjiznica.irb.hr/blog/) is the biggest and the most up-to-date Croatian library blog as we know. It could be considered as the first official library blog in Croatia. The blog was presented to the public in August 2007 and it was designed for RBI Library users, librarians, Croatian academic citizens and general public providing information and news about library, science, education, culture and everyday life. We’ll present this blog more detailed a little later.
Librarians 2.0 (Knjiznicari 2.0) is an unofficial blog of librarians who like web 2.0 technologies and virtual communications (as they claim on their pages). The blog started publishing posts in 2008 and it brings interesting topics on librarianship.
School Library of Technical School and Vocational School Bjelovar (Školska knjižnica Tehničke škole i Obrtničke škole Bjelovar) has its own blog which started in 2008. The posts are thematically related to the new library they are opening in the near future and related news.
Although Croatian libraries didn’t embrace blogs in greater amount yet, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t present on the internet. On the contrary, in 1994 Ruđer Bošković Institute Library (RBI Library) as the first library in Croatia launched its own web pages. Since then, many libraries have their own web pages and here is the elected list of a few better Croatian library web pages:
Public Library Zadar
The University Library of Pula
Ruđer Bošković Institute Library
Research Library Zadar
National and University Library
In Croatian academic librarianship there are many one-man libraries and they are unable to maintain their own web pages. Therefore, in 2004 as a part of the programme Sustav znanstvenih informacija (System of Scientific Information), supported by the Croatian Ministry of Science Education and Sports  Sustav znanstvenih informacija RH. URL: http://www.szi.hr (Accessed February 18th 2009) , the project “Web malih knjižnica” (Small Libraries’ Web) was started. The intention of that project was to help small academic libraries to make and maintain their own web pages with offered CMS application. More than 120 libraries joined that project. Today more than 50 of those libraries still have those web pages, and for many of them those are the only one they have  Sustav znanstvenih informacija – Popis knjižnica u lokalnoj bazi. URL: http://knjiznice.szi.hr/popis.php (Accessed February 12th 2009) .
A similar opportunity is given to school libraries through portal UDK 02, which was developed as a result of cooperation of school librarians gathered around forum http://groups.yahoo.com/group/knjiznicar  Hrvatska mreža školskih knjižničara – UDK 02. URL: http://www.knjiznicari.hr (Accessed February 16th 2009) . All school libraries are registered. The portal provides tools for easy creation of library web pages. The number of libraries presented on the web is growing daily, but not all of them have their web pages yet. Public libraries are registered through the portal Knjiznica.hr, although their web pages are created independently by each library.
According to the data gathered in our short preliminary research, today more than 600 Croatian libraries already have their own web pages. Only a few years ago that number was much lower – 130  Stojanovski, Jadranka; Pažur, Ivana. Hrvatske knjiznice na web-u: analiza sadržaj = Croatian libraries on the web: content analysis // Vjesnik bibliotekara Hrvatske. 45 (2002) 1-2, 83-101 . High growth is recorded among school libraries that until recently were very rarely represented on the web.
Ruđer Bošković Institute Library
Before we say a little bit more about Ruđer Bošković Institute Library Blog, we would like to briefly represent the RBI Library. It was founded in 1950, the same year as the institute and today it is the biggest Croatian library in the filed of natural sciences. The library is dislocated on 4 places – 3 on campus in Zagreb and one in Rovinj. From the very beginning RBI Library was a pioneer of implementation of new technologies and trends in everyday work. Even on its first web pages (in 1994) RBI Library provided access to online databases and electronic journals for its users. Today most of its holdings is in the electronic environment and the library has more “virtual” users than the physical ones. Therefore library stuff is obligated to constant work on improvements of library services and adjusting them to its users needs.
Ruđer Bošković Institute Library Blog
One of the services provided to the library patrons is the library blog. It was presented to the public in August 2007, although the idea about the RBI Library blog was already a few years old. As a blog’s publishing platform an open source software script WordPress v2.3 was used  WordPress.org. URL: http://wordpress.org (accessed February 12th 2009) . It was installed on library servers. Nine of RBI librarians are authorized to publish posts on the blog and all posts are written in Croatian language. The blog substituted old libraries web pages with news and, besides library news about free trials, new acquisition, events announcements etc., it brings news from science, education, informatics, new technologies and culture. All posts are tagged and organized into categories – so far there are 19 categories (e.g. bibliometrics, events, ecology, library and information science, open access, technology, semantic web, search engines, scientific publishing, miscellaneous etc.). Besides posts, users can also find other information displayed via RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed:
– information about 5 newest articles published by the RBI stuff in journals indexed in Scopus database
– 5 newest headlines from Science Magazine’s News Department
– 5 latest bookmarks posted by the RBI Library on del.icio.us
All posts published on blog are available in RSS format so it is also possible to read them via all kinds of RSS readers.
Usage statistics for RBI Library Blog
In February 18th 2009, RBI Library posted 240 posts in total or 3 posts on average weekly. According to Google Analytics statistics, a little more than 27000 unique visitors visited blog pages and they viewed more than 69000 pages. The blog pages have average 62 visits per day. Most visitors visited the blog only one time and 74.5% of all visits refer to their visits, while 5,8% of all visits refer to visitors which visited blog more than 101 times.
The most visited categories are those related to bibliometrics, events and education (Figure 1). Three most visited posts are those about tax application for 2007, Windows XP Servis Pack 3 and Google Translator. Of course, the most visited is blog homepage and it is important to mention that many posts are informative and short and therefore readers don’t open them in a new window because they can read them completely just from blog homepage. Although the blog has high visit rate, users rarely comment posts.
Figure 1. Number of page views for 5 most visited categories of posts on the RBI Library Blog
New technologies offer a great deal of opportunities for libraries to improve their services, better organize their everyday work and more easily reach potential library users. The world is in a constant change and new technologies are rapidly changing library users’ needs and habits. In the last decades a great deal of information appeared on the internet and libraries have to know how to deal with them and how to play an important role in circulation of this electronic information from its source to the end user. Unfortunately, we think that Croatian libraries still didn’t embrace all those opportunities enough and could easily be left behind in the new trends in librarianship. The blog is just one of those still unused opportunities, but we hope that libraries will realize its advantages and implement them in their libraries, as well as all others useful technologies and innovations.
|↑1||Kakva nam je informatička pismenost? (August 28th 2008). URL: http://www.gfk.hr/press1/infopis.htm (Accessed February 10th 2009)|
|↑2||Republic of Croatia – Central bureau of statistics. Statistical Yearbook 2008. http://www.dzs.hr/Hrv_Eng/ljetopis/2008/PDF/28-bind.pdf (Accessed February 16th 2009).|
|↑3||Drazen Jurman Web. Blog. URL: http://www.djurman.com/tekst/net/chip120_tb1.htm (Accessed February 10th 2009).|
|↑4||Pola milijuna blogova na Blog.hr-u. URL: http://dnevnik.hr/vijesti/hrvatska/pola-milijuna-blogova-na-blog-hr-u.html (Accessed February 11th 2009).|
|↑5||Sustav znanstvenih informacija RH. URL: http://www.szi.hr (Accessed February 18th 2009)|
|↑6||Sustav znanstvenih informacija – Popis knjižnica u lokalnoj bazi. URL: http://knjiznice.szi.hr/popis.php (Accessed February 12th 2009)|
|↑7||Hrvatska mreža školskih knjižničara – UDK 02. URL: http://www.knjiznicari.hr (Accessed February 16th 2009)|
|↑8||Stojanovski, Jadranka; Pažur, Ivana. Hrvatske knjiznice na web-u: analiza sadržaj = Croatian libraries on the web: content analysis // Vjesnik bibliotekara Hrvatske. 45 (2002) 1-2, 83-101|
|↑9||WordPress.org. URL: http://wordpress.org (accessed February 12th 2009)|