Nuovo soggettario BNCF Biblioteca Nazionale Centrale Firenze Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali e per il Turismo

The Project

Objectives and outset

The Nuovo soggettario project is edited by the National Central Library of Florence (BNCF). It is being developed in collaboration with the Italian National Bibliography (Bibliografia Nazionale Italiana, BNI), the BNCF’s Data Processing Services and the Department of Research and Development of Semantic Indexing Tools (settore Ricerche e strumenti di indicizzazione semantica) that manages the general coordination and development. The project has evolved with the aim of renewing the preceding subject indexing tool Soggettario per i cataloghi delle biblioteche italiane, edited by the BNCF in 1956 and used by the majority of Italian libraries. The objective was to completely revise the Soggettario in order to create a new tool that would:
  • comply with international standards;
  • accommodate to digital library development;
  • adapt its language and its structure to recent cultural changes and growth in publishing;
  • be used for subject indexing of different types of resources by libraries, archives, multimedia libraries and documentation centres.
The BNCF started the project by commissioning a feasibility study in 2000, with the support of Ministero per i beni e le attività culturali e per il turismo (MiBACT), through the Direzione generale per le Biblioteche, gli Istituti culturali e il Diritto d'Autore, and of the ICCU.

The Feasibility study

The Feasibility study was commissioned by the BNCF to a group of consultants, coordinated by Luigi Crocetti, who were involved in the GRIS - Gruppo di ricerca sull'indicizzazione per soggetto (Research Group on Subject Indexing of the Italian Library Association). The results of the study reflected the findings of both the Italian team and foreign experts who gave advice. In 2002 the Study concluded with a preliminary plan for the development of the new system and an estimate of the economic and human resources required. It was published as Per un nuovo Soggettario. Studio di fattibilità sul rinnovamento del Soggettario per i cataloghi delle biblioteche italiane, Milano, Editrice Bibliografica, 2002.

The Nuovo soggettario features

The Nuovo soggettario has been developed in compliance with International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions recommendations and other international standards in the field of subject indexing. It has taken into account the ISO standards for document analysis and for vocabulary control, as well as the most recent standards produced in this field (see criteria for standards and rules).
The Nuovo soggettario features are
  • an analytico-synthetic language;
  • pre-coordination (based on the construction of subject strings), and post-coordination.
The system’s architecture consists of various components:
  1. the rules for subject indexing aimed at controlling:
    1. the vocabulary;
    2. the syntax for the construction of subject strings, where the citation order is based on the analysis of the logical syntax roles;
  2. a controlled vocabulary built in compliance with the international standards;
  3. the syntactic notes to help the indexer;
  4. an archive of subject strings linked to the Thesaurus terms and to the bibliographic records in the BNCF’s OPAC.
For the project development to 2004, see:

The prototypal phase of the Nuovo soggettario

From November 2004 to December 2006, a working group, composed of BNCF librarians and external collaborators, completed the first two fundamental components of the language: the rules for vocabulary control and syntax (published in a printed volume), and the prototype of the Thesaurus, which consisted of 13,000 terms and was available on the web. The Prototype of the Nuovo soggettario was presented during a national seminar held in Florence (at the Palazzo Vecchio’s Salone dei Cinquecento) on February 8, 2007.
The seminar proceedings were published in: "Biblioteche oggi", vol. XXV, n. 6 (July-August 2007), p. 77-127. The slides are available at E-LIS.
Firenze, 8 febbraio 2007

Nuovo soggettario products and services
  1. Biblioteca nazionale centrale di Firenze, Nuovo soggettario. Guida al sistema italiano di indicizzazione per soggetto. Prototipo del Thesaurus. Milano, Editrice Bibliografica, ©2006 (2007) The Guida provides recommendations for the vocabulary control and syntax, referring mainly to the principles stated in Guida all'indicizzazione per soggetto, edited by GRIS in 1996 (reprinted in 2001). The Nuovo soggettario is not only the explanation of a method, but a complete indexing language, in accordance with the Italian cataloguing tradition modelled on the 1956 Soggettario;
  2. Thesaurus
    The Thesaurus is currently accessible on the BNCF website. The digital version of Soggettario (1956) and its updates (Liste di aggiornamento (1956-1985) are available on the Thesaurus home page. The Thesaurus is an open tool in continual development with a search interface updated twice a year. For the current number of terms: News
    The Thesaurus, in compliance with the litterary warrant principle, contains:
    • terms derived from the 1956 Soggettario and its updates (1956-1985), which are being controlled and standardized;
    • new terms introduced for the completion of the semantic relationship network;
    • new terms proposed by the BNI and other partners;
    For last updates about Thesaurus see News-Tabella
  3. Application manual
    The Manual is a guide for indexers. It provides examples of subject strings from the BNI records and, together with the syntactic notes attached to numerous Thesaurus terms, represents the syntactical-applicative apparatus of the indexing language;
  4. Subject strings, visible in the BNCF OPAC (by clicking on Notizie bibliografiche, found under the searched term) and in the OPAC of libraries which have also adopted the Nuovo soggettario.
Nuovo soggettario develops in collaboration with other libraries, institutions, working together on scientific and technological aspects, services and resources.
In the last years, the Thesaurus is interoperable with other tools and Web services by SKOS/RDF standard ( For more informations, see: G.Bergamin, A. Lucarelli, Il Nuovo soggettario come servizio per il mondo dei linked data
There are many links between Nuovo soggettario and Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH), Répertoire d'autorité-matière encyclopédique et alphabétique unifié (RAMEAU), Gemeinsame Normdatei (GND), Lista de encabezamientos de materia para las bibliotecas públicas (LEM).

For more information, see News

For further information on the history of the project see Biblioteca nazionale centrale di Firenze, Nuovo soggettario. Guida al sistema italiano di indicizzazione per soggetto. Prototipo del Thesaurus. Milano, Editrice Bibliografica, ©2006 (stampa 2007), Introduzione e Parte I.