As part of an extensive study of the Bibliothèque called the “Transition BGE” project, a number of analyses were carried out in 2007 and 2008 to identify what was needed to complete this undertaking in the city’s research libraries, given that retrospective cataloguing is an essential step in documentary research and digitization projects. The study was followed by a budget request to the city council in 2008; the approval of an allocation of 10,000,000 CHF in 2010; the drafting of a detailed plan for the project, which was to be headed by the Bibliothèque de Genève under the supervision of a steering committee in which every library was represented; and finally the start of the project in 2011.
Thirty distinct cataloguing groups were planned from 2011 up to and including 2016 for every type of document, from monographs, periodicals, manuscripts, archives, and posters, to picture collections, maps, audiovisual documents, and musical scores. A total of 550,000 catalogue cards were treated by the end of 2016, along with 25,000 inventory pages, as well as the digitization and online posting of 25,000 documents (maps, picture collections, posters, concert programs and inventories). By the end of 2013, the processing of the documents of the Bibliothèque d’art et d’archéologie and the Musée d’ethnographie (50,000 catalogue cards) was completed. And by the end of 2014, 20 of the 30 groups originally singled out had been treated, including most of the print catalogues of the BGE and the works of the Centre d’iconographie (43,000 pieces). Moreover, 500 maps of Geneva that had been previously digitized were recatalogued and posted online at RERO DOC, while plans to photograph 4,000 posters conserved at La Musicale (BGE) were finalized (call for tenders and final selection of the service provider).
These initiatives were primarily implemented by subproject heads and professionals hired from outside the library, mostly information sciences specialists and agents. The number of the latter has been steadily growing, reaching 40 employees (22.5 FTE) by the end of 2014, for example, not to mention 20 contributors from the permanent staff (5.6 FTE, with 2.3 FTE being paid for by the approved allocation), including administrative personnel. At the same time, an outside company, Medea, recatalogued part of the library’s printed works (180,000 catalogue cards), although the company’s contribution involved significant preparation work and follow-up by library staff.
In 2015 the Bibliothèque looked to complete treatment of the Botanical Garden and Conservatory materials, while continuing its ongoing treatment of the Muséum documents. In addition to a few digitization subprojects, the library focused on finalizing its priority initiatives, viz. the general catalogue of printed documents and the catalogue of pamphlets and brochures from the 17th through 19th centuries, as well as an inventory of manuscripts and archives, part of which will eventually be digitized rather than keyed in.