Institute of information science

Status and activities

The Institute of Information Science (IZUM) is a public institution established by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia as an information infrastructural service for Slovenian science, culture and education. Along with other agents of information activities in the country, it ensures Slovenia an entrance to the streams of the modern world’s information society. This defines its mission; its functions are specified in the Foundation Act, passed by the Government of the Republic of Slovenia. According to the Research and Development Act, it is defined as a public infrastructural institution and registered as a research organisation as well. According to the Librarianship Act, it is defined as a library information service in the COBISS.SI national bibliographic system.

IZUM performs the following activities:
  • in its field of work, co-ordination of the development and operation of the shared bibliographic system and services,
  • co-ordination of the development and application of standards for computer support to meet the requirements of the shared bibliographic system and services,
  • software development and maintenance to meet the requirements of the shared bibliographic system and services,
  • determination of the suitability of library staff for shared cataloguing purposes, in co-operation with the National Library,
  • planning and maintenance of the central computer and communications capacity to enable the functioning of the system,
  • organisation of access to foreign databases and services based on the agreements with their providers,
  • organisation of professional training and counselling in the fields covered by the national shared bibliographic system,
  • preparation of fundamental principles from its field of work for the work of the National Council for Librarianship,
  • development, organisation and maintenance of the information system for monitoring research activities in Slovenia,
  • research, development and counselling in its field of work,
  • other tasks based on the adopted long-term development guidelines and annual Action Plans.
On the scientific and professional basis, IZUM co-operates with similar organisations worldwide; in accordance with the guidelines of its founder, it has also expanded its activities abroad.

The activities of IZUM are mainly engaged in the development and operation of the COBISS system and services (Co-operative Online Bibliographic System and Services), which represents the core of the library information system in Slovenia and of library information systems in some other countries linked in the COBISS.Net network (Serbia, Macedonia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Bulgaria and Albania).

IZUM develops the Information system on research in Slovenia – SICRIS (Slovenian Current Research Information System), which not only includes data on research organisations, researchers and research projects, but also supports the development of similar systems (E-CRIS) in other countries.

On the basis of consortium agreements with foreign e-resource providers, IZUM provides users in Slovenia with free access to different foreign databases and services (Web of Science, OCLC FirstSearch, ProQuest, etc.).

Extensive educational activity and well-established relations with users of IZUM’s products and services are an integral part of understanding the information society as well as its development.

IZUM performs its activities for the users in the Republic of Slovenia on the basis of the annual Action Plan, which is mainly financed by the Slovenian Research Agency. IZUM carries out part of its activities on the basis of special agreements with direct users or subscribers to the services from Slovenia and abroad.
At IZUM, activities are carried out in the following organisational units:

The governing body is the Management Board of IZUM; it consists of 11 members. The Expert Council of IZUM, which is appointed by the Board of Governors, is composed of established experts in the relevant fields from Slovenia and abroad. One speciality is the organisation of COBISS members who constitute the COBISS Members Council according to the size criterion of their contributions to the bibliographic databases. Expert working groups, dealing with specific issues concerning the development and operation of the system, are formed according to the expert competence criterion.

Sources of finance

The majority of activities performed by IZUM is a part of public service. Therefore, IZUM’s activities are mainly financed from public funds, either directly from the Budget (through the relevant ministry), or indirectly, through the organisations paying IZUM for services performed on the basis of agreements; for that purpose, they usually use funds, allocated to them from the state or the municipal budget. Approximately 10% of IZUM’s activities is performed for the so-called market.

Funds are allocated to IZUM for carrying out its activities on the basis of the annual Action Plan, which covers regular activities and the planned scope of activities related to special projects and orders:
  • Ministry of Education, Science and Sport (MIZŠ) covers the costs of the development and operation of the COBISS.SI and SICRIS systems and services using the programme financing methodology.
  • Slovenian Research Agency (ARRS) covers the costs of the purchase of foreign databases and access to foreign information services.
  • On the basis of full membership or associate membership agreements in the COBISS.SI system, libraries are liable to cover a part of the costs for IZUM’s services by paying the membership fee for their participation in the COBISS.SI system. Only school libraries and special libraries operating in commercial companies actually pay full membership fee to IZUM, while MIZŠ pays the costs for full membership fee for all other libraries directly to IZUM (in the frame of programme financing).
  • Among services, covered by the Slovenian libraries, are education and training, adapting the existing software to local needs (non-standard solutions), conversions of local databases (transfer of records from other systems, conversions in the event of a reorganisation of a library, or correcting the errors that fall under the responsibility of libraries), as well as assistance in the purchase and maintenance of computer and communication equipment.
  • IZUM receives part of its funding from the sales of services and licences to use COBISS software abroad and from international cooperation projects.

Some milestones in the development

IZUM emerged from the Computer Centre of the University of Maribor (RCUM), which transformed from a classical organisation of this type into a modern information infrastructure centre between 1980 and 1990.
Year Event
2021 Vega supercomputer start-up.
32-millionth record created in local databases.
2020 ADZ.SI Academic Digital Collection established.
dCOBISS digital repository introduced.
The 22nd international COBISS conference took place online exclusively.
2019 Agreement signed with discovery tool provider ExLibris for searching foreign databases within COBISS+.
2018 Most school libraries now included in COBISS.
Migration of remaining libraries to the COBISS3/Loan software module; the COBISS2 platform is no longer in use in Slovenia and in
2017 COBISS+ released+.
14 million records created in the COBISS.SI local databases.
25 million records created in the local databases. webpages overhaul.
Initiative for the establishment of an Academic national collection of Slovenia (ADZ.Si) signed
2016 All libraries in the COBISS.SI system now use the COBISS3/Cataloguing software.
2015 10 millionth record created in the COBISS.Net shared databases.
First installation of the online COBISS3/Loan software in the mobile library abroad (Bihać, Bosnia and Herzegovina).
Project ''Extension and Energy Saving Renovation of the Existing IZUM Building'' concluded.
2014 Over 30 million items entered in all the COBISS.Net local databases.
Online version only of journal Organizacija znanja (Organisation of Knowledge) available from Vol. 19, No. 1, onwards.
2013 Autonomous library information system of the Republic of Srpska (COBISS.RS) is established in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The mCOBISS mobile app for smartphones and tablets available.
A parameterized system for lending e-books established.
2012 National and University Library (NUK), Ljubljana, started using COBISS3/Cataloguing.
The initial COBISS.AL shared bibliographic database is established.
2011 UNESCO awarded IZUM the status of a regional centre for library information systems and research information systems, category II centre under the auspices of UNESCO.
IZUM and OCLC sign a Letter of Intent on the establishment of a strategic partnership.
2010 First record in the COBISS3 production environment in Bulgaria.
2009 First transfer of records from the COBIB.SI shared database to WorldCat.
2008 Training portal launched, e-manuals published.
2006 Link between the COBIB.SI shared database and Google Scholar established.
2005 Reference service Ask a Librarian launched.
2004 Exchange of bibliographic records between library information systems in the COBISS.Net network (download of records from other shared bibliographic databases) made possible.
Library compensation service application launched.
2003 Signed Agreement on the establishment of the COBISS.Net network and the free exchange of bibliographic records, created in autonomous library information systems of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Macedonia, Slovenia and Serbia.
Implementation of the authority control in the shared cataloguing system COBISS.SI.
2002 IZUM promotes the COBISS.Net Project.
Based on amended legislation, the government of the Republic of Slovenia passes a new decision on the Foundation Act of the Institute of Information Science.
2001 The first COBISS3 software modules are introduced.
2000 The consortium agreement on accessing the Web of Science is signed.
IZUM enables libraries to download bibliographic records from OCLC WorldCat, the world's largest catalogue.
1999 IZUM launches the information system on research activities in Slovenia (SICRIS).
1997 The decision to start with the technological renovation of the COBISS system (object technology) is accepted.
1996 IZUM provides access to the OCLC databases (the leading bibliographic utility worldwide) through the COBISS/OPAC system.
1994 The Government of the Republic of Slovenia passes the complemented IZUM Foundation Act, by which it determines the functions it has been performing ever since.
1992 The Government of the Republic of Slovenia issues a decree, on the basis of which IZUM separates from the University of Maribor and constitutes as an autonomous institution, while the RCUM department remains within the frames of the University of Maribor.
1991 The Ministry of Science and Technology defines IZUM as the information infrastructure service for science, education and culture in Slovenia. IZUM promotes the COBISS system (Co-operative Online Bibliographic System and Services).
1990 RCUM is transformed into the Institute of Information Science of the University of Maribor (IZUM), and by moving to a new location, it solves its housing and spatial problems. The Rectors Conference of the Alps-Adria Working Community elects IZUM as the inter-regional co-ordination centre for the building of the database on Alps-Adria scientific and academic libraries.
1988 The Federal Secretariat for the development elected IZUM as the general developer of the Scientific and Technological Information System of Yugoslavia.
1987 The Research Community of the Republic of Slovenia assigns to RCUM the role of the host of the scientific and technological information system in Slovenia. The Presidency of the then Association of the Yugoslav National Libraries accepts IZUM's concept of the shared cataloguing as the common basis of the library information system.
1986 The UNIMARC format for the exchange of bibliographic data in machine readable form is adopted. RCUM acquires the VAX 8800 computer system, then the most powerful computer system in the country.
1984 In the University Library in Maribor the first machine readable bibliographic record is done and the automated loan, supported by the software, developed by RCUM, is introduced.