National Academic Library and Information System


The activities of the NALIS Foundation are organized around a large-scale project supported by the America for Bulgaria Foundation.


The main objective of the NALIS Project (NALIS stands for ‘National Academic Library and Information System’) is the creation of an online union catalogue of the libraries in Bulgaria, which will give its users the opportunities for the following:

  • integrated searching in the catalogues of these libraries through the internet;
  • online access, through a web portal, not only to the bibliographical information about the printed and electronic resources kept in these libraries, but also to the services that they provide.

This is the first of its kind search service in the Bulgarian internet space. The discovery and use of bibliographical sources, which scholars, university professors, students and experts need for their daily work, was both difficult and time-consuming. This was unacceptable in the environment of permanent technological improvements in education and research, of a growing need for quality information services, of growing competition between various academic institutions, and of the necessity of the reduction of their costs.


Funds invested in the NALIS Project are intended for the following:

  • acquisition of hardware and software platforms, and development of an integrated library and information system;
  • training of librarians, system librarians and system administrators.

The NALIS Foundation deals with the overall management of the project, and also coordinates the national academic library and information system, formed by the founders and the joined the joining libraries.


The NALIS Project started in June 2009. The following results were accomplished in the course of the project implementation:

  • construction of national academic library and information system;
  • integration of the information resources of the libraries in Bulgaria that have joined the project.

The NALIS Project went through two stages:

  • construction of the network between the libraries of the founding institutions – at this stage the system will be tested and all the possible problems will be removed;
  • broadening of the network – it will be open to all libraries that wish to join the project and are technologically ready for that.


The construction of a national academic library and information system involves the development and adoption of uniform standards for bibliographical description. The current Bulgarian state standard for traditional bibliographical description is not applicable to machine-readable cataloguing.

MARC 21 is the most widespread standard of this type. It is used by leading libraries, such as the US Library of Congress, the British Library and the Russian State Library. The NALIS Project adapted this format to the Bulgarian conditions and organised the translation of the primary documents related to it (see the finalized translations here):


A Multilingual Dictionary of MARC 21 Terms, a Glossary of Bulgarian Library Terms (explained in Bulgarian) and Some Acronyms (explained in Bulgarian) are being created parallel to the translation of MARC21.


An important aspect of the NALIS Project is the arrangement of an adequate training program. Since the successful establishment of any national academic library network and electronic union catalogue requires a standard for bibliographical description and a software platform, both of which should be common for the involved libraries, the training was conducted in two general directions:

  • introduction to the MARC21 standards;
  • acquisition of the chosen software products necessary for the establishment and maintenance of a national library network.

A majority of the libraries in Bulgaria have introduced their own library and information systems. Yet most of those systems are technologically incompatible with each other and/or with the systems of the world’s leading research libraries and information vendors.


The NALIS Project enabled the national and global integration of the Bulgarian library systems. (For more information about the NALIS Software Platform see here).


The NALIS Project is of significant benefit to society. It provides a reasonable answer to the challenges posed before the librarianship in Bulgaria, namely the following: the imperative need for collaboration between the libraries; the constant rise in the cost of scientific publications and of online sources of specialized information; relevant financial restrictions imposed to optimize the purchase of information sources; the necessity that the country becomes fully involved in the process of digitization of library items and in the rapid deployment of digital libraries in Europe and the world.