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Sociolingüística internacional

A library with a language focus, HABE Liburutegia, by Imanol Irizar


3. Current situation

HABE Liburutegia is now a specialist public library with collections of 25,000 monographs, 600 periodical publications and numerous videos, CDs, CD-ROMs, etc. that can be accessed directly by users. The library is managed (cataloguing, loans, purchases, periodical publications control) using a computer programme that has been specifically designed for libraries: Absys – Integrated Library Management System.

Over the last 5-6 years, a significant amount of work has been put into creating the infrastructure required to maximise use of the library. This has included the cataloguing of all of the collections, creation of a documentary database of articles (called ADBD). Access to all this information has been made possible from the HABE Website (http://www.habe.org).

The ADBD articles database deserves special mention, as it allows access to information from 65,000 articles on applied linguistics that can be found in the library. These articles were extracted from 165 journals and around 2,000 books.

It is common knowledge that students and researchers face enormous difficulties trying to access and control the wealth of articles published every year in technical and scientific publications. This database was designed to help researchers access this vast amount of information and to allow them to control it.

As well as providing basic information on each article, the ADBD database also provides us with a synopsis or, where this is unavailable, with the beginning of each article. There are three ways of searching or entering a query:

  1. Author/s or keyword/s search, using the usual Booleans and entering dates to limit the search.

  2. Search of the indexes of all the volumes or numbers of the 165 journals from which articles were extracted.

  3. Free-text search. This search mode allows users to access authors, title words and the entire synopsis of each article. Thus, this strategy requires the user to enter more search criteria.

Both the general on-line catalogue and the documentary database of articles allow access to the library’s collections from a distance., which is, in fact, the ultimate aim of these projects.

The library now has 3,000 users and is used mainly by: teachers and students of Euskera, English, French, German, Spanish...; university students; university lecturers; individuals preparing their doctoral thesis; individuals preparing for civil service examinations, etc.

The library has a workforce of four staff, although an outside company specialising in cataloguing takes care of the cataloguing of new documents. Our work involves: managing acquisitions (2,000 per year), subscriptions (300 journals at present), loans (1,500 per month); entering data into the database by scanning and OCRing indexes and abstracts; creating and distributing digital catalogues and bulletins, bibliographical assistance, following up requests, guided visits, etc...

4. Services


  • Lending service. Users can take out three books at a time for a three week period. This period can be renewed for a further three weeks if the books have not been reserved.

  • A distance-lending service is available for users in Bilbao and Vitoria. The library uses HABE’s regional offices in these cities to allow users from these areas to take out and return books they have requested beforehand from the library, without their having to travel to San Sebastián.

  • Interlibrary lending service. This is common practice amongst university and specialist libraries, as well as those of research associations and bodies, whose purpose is to exchange photocopies of articles and books available for loan.

News bulletins and catalogues

Since the start of the year 2000, we have been distributing a news bulletin and a number of catalogues - videos, journals, software, theses – using a distribution list. As a result, over 500 subscribers currently receive an e-mail containing the library’s bibliographical information. This means a substantial saving in both time and money. Users who are interested in receiving these e-mails can ask us directly to subscribe them to the bulletins or they can subscribe or unsubscribe from the list themselves by simply sending a blank message to:


This distribution list also allows us to store all the bulletins we have sent on the Internet. These can be consulted at any time by the subscribers.

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