Specialised Information Service Benelux / Low Countries Studies

Logo FID Benelux
© ULB

Under the auspices of the Specialised Information Services Programme funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG), the ULB Münster has hosted the Specialised Information Service Benelux / Low Countries Studies (FID Benelux) since early 2016.

The Specialised Information Services are a nationwide programme replacing the Special Subject Collections System (Sondersammelgebiete), which was discontinued in 2015. The programme aims to allow researchers across Germany quick, direct access to specialist literature and research-related information, regardless of the researcher's individual location. The programme thus complements the information infrastructure of universities and research centres with supra-regional services for high-level research.

Regional and disciplinary profile

Map snippet Benelux countries
© George Washington Bacon / Wikimedia Commons

The interdisciplinary Specialised Information Service Benelux / Low Countries Studies (FID Benelux) was conceived as a centralised hub for research materials on Low Countries culture and society, while also providing additional research support services. The project's goal is to link a comprehensive framework of literature, information, and consulting with electronic services tailored to the needs of expert researchers. To that end, the ULB Münster works closely with a number of research libraries and information services both in Germany and in the Low Countries.

The Specialised Information Service Benelux / Low Countries Studies places particular regional emphasis on the Netherlands (including former colonies) and Belgium (in its entirety, as well as Flanders in particular). The Dutch Caribbean (including Aruba, Curaçao, and Sint Maarten), Wallonia, Belgium's German-speaking Community, former Belgian colonies, and Luxembourg are likewise within the purview of the library, but with limited source material depending on the discipline, or largely with reference information.

The Specialised Information Service Benelux / Low Countries Studies focuses on the disciplines of history, politics, Dutch language and literary studies, as well as regional and cultural studies. There is also a significant focus on sociology, ethnology, and geography, though in-depth information on these subjects is available largely for the Netherlands.

Read more about the regional and disciplinary profile [de]

Services offered

A broad, flexible service portfolio is planned for the Specialised Information Service Benelux / Low Countries Studies. Individual services include:

  • Supra-regional licensing of electronic media; you can read more about licensing offered by the Specialised Information Services Benelux / Low Countries Studies [de] on the website of the Centre of Competence for Licensing Electronic Resources.
  • Purchasing, cataloguing, indexing, and supplying print publications; acquisition suggestions are given priority processing
  • Developing and supplying suitable research and source tools, including specialist bibliographies; for more on existing services in this regard see portal and research services
  • Digitizing, cataloguing, and supplying scientifically relevant historical holdings; read more about the digitization service [de]
  • Open Access Publications [de]
  • Secure cloud server for data storage and sharing [in progress]
  • Training programme for research and information literacy in Dutch philology and Low Countries studies
  • Individual consultation and support in questions related to scientific research and information acquisition, open access publishing, digitization, the use of information technology in research contexts, etc.

The services offered by the Specialised Information Service Benelux will be continually expanded and adapted to suit current research and study requirements.

Portal and research services

Portal ViFa Benelux
© ULB

ViFa Benelux (Virtual Library Belgium Netherlands Luxembourg) is the central portal for all services and research support technologies offered by the Specialised Information Service Benelux. Currently available services include:

Additionally, the Specialised Information Service Benelux delivers publication metadata to the online journal content database Online Contents (OLC). These data are merged with existing article metadata from OLC to form the specialist OLC Benelux subsection. There are currently 139 journals relating to Low Countries studies in this subsection.

All holdings are completely listed in the ULB catalogue [de]. In addition, the Specialised Information Service Benelux offers the Special Catalogue Dutch Studies [de], a catalogue of the holdings of the Haus der Niederlande [de] (House of the Netherlands).

We publish a list of newly acquired publications [de] on a weekly basis to keep you up to date with the latest acquisitions. You also have the option to subscribe to an RSS feed[de] that will keep you informed of all new acquisitions. (More information on RSS feed functionality can be found at techfacts.net [de] or Wikipedia.)

Location and on-campus use

Logo: library in the Haus der Niederlande
© Haus der Niederlande

The majority of the book and media holdings of the Specialised Information Service Benelux are located in the library in the Haus der Niederlande [de] (House of the Netherlands), grouped with the collections of the Institute of Dutch Philology and the Centre for Netherlands Studies according to a special classification. The library's 100,000 volumes offer a unique opportunity for Dutch studies within Germany.

Further documents, held in the Central Library and the external stacks, include older monographs published prior to 1980 and infrequently used periodicals.

In general, items from the Specialised Information Service Benelux collection can be loaned for four weeks, with three extensions providing no holds have been placed on them. Loans require a ULB Münster library card, which external users may also apply for.

Haus der Niederlande (House of the Netherlands), inner view
© ULB

Off-campus use

Interlibrary loan: The books offered by the Specialised Information Service Benelux are primarily intended for supra-regional use and can all be requested via the interlibrary loan system.

Requesting an item: Any library connected to the German interlibrary loan system can submit a request for a title. In addition to the complete bibliographical information, please include the institution code 6 for the University and State Library of Münster or 6/N for the library of the Haus der Niederlande, and the shelfmark(s) of the required book(s). The necessary information may be found in the ULB catalogue [de].

Acquisition suggestions

The Specialised Information Service Benelux is happy to accept suggestions for the acquisition of publications corresponding to the regional and disciplinary profile detailed above. Such recommendations for acquisitions are given priority processing and will then be available to you for loan or interlibrary loan. If you would like to recommend a book or periodical for acquisition, it is essential to indicate all publication data (author, title, publisher, year of publication, ISBN, price) you can find.
Online form for acquisition suggestions (registered ULB users) [de]
Online form for acquisition suggestions (external users) [de]

News from the Specialised Information Service Benelux

Logo: FID Beleux – News
© ULB

Subscribe to our newsletter! The Specialised Information Service Benelux newsletter [de] keeps you up-to-date on all developments regarding scientific information in the field of Benelux research. It is published as requires, but generally no more than four times a year. You can unsubscribe at any time.

Further current news on Low Countries studies can also be found on the ViFa Benelux Blog [de]. You can subscribe to the blog via email or RSS feed [de] free of charge.

The history of the Specialised Information Service Benelux

Since its earliest beginnings, the ULB Münster has always had a special connection with the Low Countries. Given Westphalia's close geographical and cultural ties with the Netherlands, the collection focus Dutch Culture has a long tradition at the ULB. Its historical holdings include numerous significant 14th to 19th century publications on the Netherlands and Flanders. These documents were saved from the destruction of World War II by prescient evacuation.

The specialist collection in Münster first received financial support in the 1920s by the Notgemeinschaft der deutschen Wissenschaft (Emergency Association of German Science). In the year 1949, the specialist collection was included as Special Subject Collection (Sondersammelgebiet / SSG) Dutch Culture in the Special Subject Collections System funded by the German Research Foundation. In 2006, it was renamed Special Subject Collection Benelux, and continued until 2015 in cooperation with the University and City Library of Cologne. By then, the specialist collection had grown to encompass approximately 92,000 titles, including 72,000 monographs and roughly 20,000 volumes of periodicals.

Contact details

Any questions, comments, or suggestions on the FID Benelux can be addressed to the project manager:

Ilona Riek
FID Benelux / Low Countries Studies
Krummer Timpen 3
48143 Münster
Tel.: +49 (0)251 83-24071
fid.benelux@uni-muenster.de