POLICING IN CENTRAL AND EASTERN EUROPE: Comparing Firsthand Knowledge with Experience from the West,
© 1996 College of Police and Security Studies, Slovenia


Tanja Kovše

This paper is a presentation of the achievements of the library of the Ministry of the Interior, a support to the professional, research and educational work.

It describes the active co-operation of the libraries of the MI in the Slovenian on-line Co- operative Bibliographic System and Services - COBISS as well as the possibilities offered by the Internet.

The author deliberates on the possibilities of the establishment of an international regional information network system for the flow of grey literature in the area of police and related sciences among Central and East European countries (CEEC).


My paper will not discuss the integration of the relational database management system, which is the main component of the information retrieval system for the support of multimedia police work in the fight against crime, which of course is a very actual topics, but it is not my field of work.

As a librarian at the Ministry of the Interior (hereinafter : MI) I would like to present at this conference the achievements and the problems of our library. This seminar represents also a valuable opportunity to meet the authors whose professional publications are kept in our publication's fund, and who are at the same time also our clients.

It is a great challenge for me to be present at such a seminar. The exchange of opinions on discussed topics could be in favour of a more efficient purchasing policy, it could increase the relations between the librarian and the client and could become a support to our suggestions for our future work, specially with the establishment of contacts with related library information services on the East - West line.

In June 1996 Slovenia signed the association agreement with the European Union. We are now in the period of overall dynamic and gradual changes on our way towards a full membership. This is the goal of the majority of most European countries, including the Central and East European Countries (hereinafter: CEEC).

»The tendency of Slovenia to become incorporated in the EU is the logical consequence of the fact that this European integration represents its most important partner in many areas: in commerce, industry, investments, technology, tourism, education, culture... Security is also not an unimportant reason for the integration of Slovenia into EU. Slovenia is a country at the edge of the Balkan war zone and it can effectively resolve the issues of its security and defence only within the frame of the EU and NATO...1

Slovenia and the CEEC will have to adopt the basic directives of the European Union and harmonise their legislation with European legislation, if they want to become members of the EU. The modernisation of public administration, based on the openness towards the environment, on high expertness, on democratic institutions and on the most modern information system, must be followed by the europeanisation of our Police, taking into consideration the European police standards and normatives. Though the international police co-operation exists already from the beginning of the century (INTERPOL) it developed institutionally only after the formation of the TREVI working group (1975). The Treaty of the European Union - the Maastricht Agreement regulates in its third pillar the co-operation of the members of the European Union in the area of internal affairs and jurisdiction. The Convention of the foundation of the European police bureau Europol (1995) anticipates the establishment of a computer data base which will have an on-line connection with national units within the EU member States.


The special library of the MI ensures with its fund the information necessities of a special group of clients: the professionals, the researchers and the administrative personnel of the MI, police officers, pedagogical staff and students. For a number of years, the library functioned in an unchanged environment - it means: through a classical system.

The outbreak of modern information and communication technology, specially in the past few years, has changed completely the ways of thinking, working and the life in libraries as well, especially in special ones. In 1992 the MI carried out its own computer supported librarian information system (KIS). However, this system does not take into consideration the recognised international standards for bibliographic description of publications and for the data exchange and transfer and is also not interactive. Thus duplications of processing of publications appear between libraries functioning within the framework of the MI. This programme also does not support the automatic borrowing with a bar code, which causes bottle necks in the functioning of all libraries in the MI .

2.1 Admission of the Library of the MI into COBISS

Our young State celebrated in July 1996 five years of its existence. With the approaching to the European Union it wishes to enter the European global information flows, and the libraries of the MI should not be excluded from it.

A step towards the modernisation of librarian information activities in the MI was the installation of more efficient personal computers, including the multimedia ones, linked in the local network - OS/2 client - server architecture.

The libraries of the MI decided to become members of the Slovenian co-operative on-line bibliographical system and services called COBISS. Slovenian government defined by law this system as the basis of Slovenian librarian information system and of the scientific information and communication system as a segment of the educational and research infrastructure. The carrier of the development of this system is the Institute for Information Sciences in Maribor (IZUM) which, apart of many other functions, educates the members of the system together with the National and University Library.

The library of the MI kept that segment of its own librarian information computer programme, which it developed for updating and circulating of periodicals through organisational units. Here are some of the segments of the COBISS, with which the libraries of the MI gained the most:

Since the librarian and information system of the Ministry of the Interior and of the public data bases of the State administrative authorities were built on the basis of the STAIRS programme and the retrieval is possible from working posts, all the libraries of the MI will convert the data from local bases, built with the COBISS system tools, in STAIRS. This will enable the continuation of the retrieval from STAIRS bases from working posts.

The decision to enter the COBISS was additionally influenced by the fact that the IZUM ensures the development of the system by establishing virtual electronic library. The user of certain subject area has got the access to various sources and comprehensive selection of collections and has at the same time also the feeling of entering into only one collection.

2.2 The information activities of the library and expansion of services


In order to enable the library's information service to be an effective support to our clients, at getting acquainted with European institutions, their competencies and ways of functioning, with the joint European legislation of the European Union and with the regulation of other areas, as well as with the interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary following of the police problems on all levels, the library personnel must constantly look-out for publications, materials and documents with fresh data. This papers are then selected, analysed and stored in a local data base.

However, our own fund does not satisfy all needs of our clients. Therefore the library is using the possibility of inter-library borrowing, mostly through:

We co-operate also with the Library of the National Assembly with a rich referential collection: the Constitutions from all over the world, the Official Gazette of the European Union, press reviews, etc.

We direct our clients also to other special libraries. Here we must mention the library of the Institute of Criminology with its rich collections. This library is a member of the International Network of Criminal Justice Libraries and creates a special data base CRIM, installed also in the COBISS/ATLASS information system. The libraries of the MI and of the College for Police and Security Studies have recently obtained the authorisation to search for data in the cited system, which enables the user's multi-search through various data bases.

This year the library of the MI entered also in the on-line public and commercial data base of the Slovenian legal and business data - IUS-INFO. The clients have the access not only to laws and rules, but also to the contents of Official Gazettes, Court decisions and professional articles in various legal reviews, as well as to the National Assembly Reporter, which includes the acts which are in the phase of adoption.


Just recently the ITA 3 connected the library's local network LAN (as the first one) through the scientific research network ARNES 4 with the Internet. Through the so called security barrier, separating the library's LAN from the Internet supplier, the ITA ensured the highest level of protection of the system. With this numerous possibilities offered by the electronic communication were opened: electronic mail, electronic news, access to catalogues of the libraries, searching for the information using the YAHOO tools, Infoseek, WWW browser. The offer of the publishing houses and book shops is also very interesting. The use of search tools through the sellers book shelves is very simple, the shipment of publications is very quick. The other possibility offered is the reading of electronic newspapers, daily and weekly papers. There is rich offer of quality data bases installed on web servers by libraries, information services and other organisations; some of the are are interesting for the MI, like:

Police officers and other users have got the possibility to follow quickly and globally, through the Internet, the new trends in their professional field on the East as well as on the West, and to make critical evaluations of various cases. They have an insight into sociological analyses, confessions of drug users, etc.

It is very useful to follow through the Internet the daily press survey prepared by the British Home Office and by the British »National Criminal Intelligence Service«. The latter was established in London in 1992 in order to help the law enforcement agencies and to other agencies with a processed information including the analyses of criminal deeds. A special strategic group of experts, which is studying long-term trends in perform researches stands behind these analyses. The Home Office is using the Internet also for some advertisements. For example, on June 4, 1996 they advertised the publication of a handbook with directives on how to advise and stimulate a better use of forensic science.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is , of course, also a part of the information highway and invites the users to browse regularly through their selective information on WWW. The users have the access to their bulletins, reports, statistical data, data gathered for the needs of the White House, etc. Some of the materials are published in full text, like for example, an interesting statement of the Director of the FBI regarding the impact of encryption on law enforcement and public safety.

The universality, all-embracing and democracy of the Internet

The Internet is a driving force in the area of information and telecommunication since it enables the access to the knowledge and to the world information market, where the competition is reigning - exceptional offer and request. The user must be therefore very critical when selecting data. However, strategic and business data are carefully protected. If they are by chance available, they have their own price.

The misuses of data do appear occasionally. The financial and computer crime have been increasing, there has been appearance of pornography and information harmful to public order. The quality of data is often questionable, as well as the suitableness of gathering and purpose of publishing of data.

Certain bureau's that are storing sensitive data must protect them specially. It is thought that for the time being the mechanisms for system and network protection are weak and the misuse is possible. The European Union will resolve these problems till 1998 by the implementation of new norms, standards and regulations, which will protect the secrecy and the security of data bases and intellectual property (1). However! Mr. David Blakey, the Chief Constable of West Mercia explains in his comprehensive article on the Internet, that, despite the problems and possible misuse: » Not to join the super highway society willingly would consign all of us to an electronic under-class on the world stage« (2). The Internet gives to the police an access to the methods needed for performing the police work. In his article, he mentioned as a curiosity the fact that as soon as the police administration of West Mercia appeared with the information on the home page of the Internet, their colleagues from Massachusetts replied them. They asked them for their permission to use some of their ideas for the planning of their own activities.


We enriched our activities with a collection of single and network CD's, which enable the entrance to various data and references even with full texts. We expect the installation of a CD-ROM web tower with the capacity of the use of 7 discs and the connection with the LAN OS/2 server. This modern information medium is a valuable acquisition for libraries, information centres and archives, since it resolves the space shortage and we can avoid also the expensive search through commercial on-line accessible data bases. So far there were 77 numbers of Official Gazette of the Republic of Slovenia for 1995 published on the CD.

The library of the MI is carefully planning its acquisition of the offers available on CD's. 8 It also enriched its offer with the registration of its computer on the CD-ROM network at the National and University Library in Ljubljana. The latter acquired a server for net CD-ROM. The contents of the CD were copied on hard disk from which the data can be read 10 times quicker that the speed of CD -ROM is, so that the NUL library could offer its rich collection to numerous clients from university and to other interested entities. The expensive data bases on CD's could be used at the same time by more clients, which is a great advantage in comparison with an individual personal computer with a CD drive.


3.1. Short insight in the libraries in the region with which we desire to establish contacts

The main role in the information services in the CEEC lies in scientific libraries which were the first to automatize their activities and integrate into computer information networks. The CEEC have begun to open international relations from 1990 on, so that the libraries are only now getting included into information networks. The wish for the automation of librarian activities is extremely large and we should not forget that the theoretical level of knowledge in libraries is very high.(3)

The true expansion of the information networks in the CEEC started after the 1994 with financial and expert help of the PHARE programme and private foundations. Thus the CEEC now use similar infrastructure as the Western European States.

The aim is to increase the number of sources and to ensure general insight and access to materials. The wish for co-operation is the reason that libraries strive to accept international standards for bibliographic description and UNIMARC for the international exchange of catalogue records.

Among the most important factors for the choice and introduction of automated system, the CEEC libraries pointed out the following two issues: the format problem and the character set. Only half of the libraries use the standard Latin II, which supports East European writings, English, German and the writings of the republics of former Yugoslavia. This ensures the transparency and integration of data into various systems. The experts of the MI carried out this year a very demanding intervention: they introduced into the information system the standard Latin II because of the needs of international communications.

One of the many programme packages which are considerably spread is CDS/ISIS, which UNESCO distributed into the developing countries free of charge. The relation data base could be created with it and it enables the conversion of bibliographical entries into UNIMARC.

The collections on CD's are rarely available to the library users in the CEEC. At the Conference on Automation of Libraries in Budapest in April 1996, where the members of various types of libraries in the CEEC participated, the establishment of a "virtual library" for this region was proposed. This is the electronic delivery of documents and articles, which means that the articles will have to be translated into a computer readable note.


Together with other CEEC Slovenia strives to obtain the full membership of the European Union. We encounter similar problems and we first have to restructure the economy and State administration and follow the directives adopted in Brussels.

We will have to acquire new knowledge on all areas in order to enter the European Union as equal partners. Knowledge which is born in various institutions ads to the development of economy and of various sciences only if the society enables the flow of the research and professional findings, which have to be useful.

The known Bangemann report mentioned among other things also the "European brain power", with which he wants to announce how important place in Europe has the planned, most modern trans-Europe communication network, which will connect the research departments of the universities, research institutes and libraries already in 1997 through interactive multimedia services. This is an open access to libraries and to the flow of knowledge.(4)


As in any area there is no progress without research work, it is necessary to strengthen the research work on various levels also in the police and to promote the co-operation with other institutions. My opinion is based on the thought of one of the discussions of Prof. Pečar: »The police as a professional organisation which deals with important socio-political, economic, national and not only security issues, with breaking into human rights and fundamental liberties, which is at the same time also the most numerous State institution, a very expensive, complicated and hierarchic organisation, must not remain without research work. It must intensively work not only with the flows and processes of the "dark side" of the society in which it functions, but must constantly study itself, must permit to be disclosed, studied and researched«. (5)

3.4. The role of the library in this process

We are planning a more regular and systematic acquisition and processing of conventional and, especially of unconventional material of public nature, prepared by various organisational units of the MI and outside home and foreign institutions. This includes also a group of documents, which "avoided" printers and bookshops - the so-called grey literature. These are: various reports, research works, dissertations, analyses, research projects, statistic bulletins, translations, conference papers and proceedings. We shall thus enable all, who respond to the fast growth of knowledge, to practitioners, researchers, pedagogical personnel and strategists a transparency of quality bibliographic data and access to materials. This will be a part of the library collection.


Slovenian libraries already process the cited type of material through the COBISS system for the preparation of bibliographical data basis of professional and research activities of university teachers and scientists. This system is used by various kinds of special libraries, from companies to research institutes. Every computer record, apart from the bibliographic data, includes also the analysis of the contents: an abstract and the key words in Slovene and English language and the UDK classifier.

The libraries of the MI, being full members of the COBISS, will proceed both the conventional and the grey literature and will form a data base of the police and related sciences. This will be the contribution to the Slovenian scientific potential as a whole.


Individual Western States have been proceeding grey literature according to the uniform criteria for years and have been offering it to interested users throughout Europe via data bases installed in larger computer hosts.

Last year I had an opportunity to experience this when I entered on-line from the Central Library of the British Home Office into the data bases of the well known computer host Blaiseline, London. Apart from the home basis I found on the host also the Index of European grey literature with conference materials, annual reports and analyses from England, Germany and France. I looked through some operative analyses, analyses in the area of the police work, projects, translations - even in full text, graphs with the structure of codes for criminal logical analyses, methodological material etc.

I was extremely surprised at the library of the Police Staff College in Bramshill, Berkshire, situated in a castle from 17th century, because of various literature in the area of police activities and with the complete collection of police research projects. This library also publishes a catalogue of key words, which is an excellent help for data processing and retrieval. I mentioned this simply because our library will have to amend the list of key words and at the same time prepare the key words in English language and compare them or unify them with the list of the College for Police and Security Studies and of the Institute for Criminology.

3.7 Proposal for the establishment of a regional co-ordination unit

With the establishment of a modern local network with access to the Internet and with new premises of our library in the future building of the MI, new possibilities will be opened to us for a partnership collaboration with similar libraries at home and abroad. We are considering the possibilities to establish an international regional network information system for the exchange of grey literature in the area of police and related sciences among the CEEC members.

Such system would contribute:

The key elements, necessary for the functioning of the system are:

It is important for an information system that the bibliographic units include the abstracts and key words in national and English language to enable the search by topics. The co- operating libraries would therefore use a uniform Thesaurus, which is to be prepared yet. The selection of materials is very important and is carried out by central national police libraries.

It concerns a distributed data procedure under the uniform standards with the possibility of searching from the central data base. Among the tenders of the system we could certainly include the Slovenian system COBISS, which is technically capable enough for the functioning of the proposed network system. The central regional base could be located on the IZUM host and accessible through the Internet. The regional co-ordination unit could function in the new premises of our library.


My paper is a presentation of the role of library of the MI which is a support for an effective professional and research work. Though the focus of the activity is on the professional service, especially on borrowing of material from our own funds, the modern working stations enabled the informers to serve the users with electronic data and documents under the principle "just in time".

It is very important to get included into the data networks which enables the enrichment with new achievements in the world and at home and through which we can offer our own knowledge. The advantage of the Internet which our library will use more an more, lies in this interactivity.

The envisioned co-ordination body of the police libraries of the CEEC for grey literature in the area of police and related sciences could be established only with professional and financial help of the PHARE programme. Unfortunately libraries are not one of the key sectors of the PHARE programme, but they could be included through other key sectors, like e.g. the restructuring of public administration.

We should not neglect that professional personnel with its knowledge, creativity and flexibility is the central moving force in the integration processes within the library information activities.

I also think that the CEEC police libraries could establish co-operation with the libraries of the European Union police colleges, which are active in the APEC association.10

This could bring us a step closer to the European Union.


  1. Dr. Benjamin Lukman, Director of the Bureau for European Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia

  2. The professional library of the MI, the library of the College for Police and Security Studies, the library of the Police Cadets School

  3. ITA - Informatics and Telecommunications Administration of the MI.

  4. ARNES -National Academic and Research Network of Slovenia

  5. ECHO - European Commission Host Organisation, which offers to registered users free searching and printing of key documents of the European Union in full text format and entrance into 20 data bases.

  6. UNCJIN - United Nations Criminal Justice Information Network

  7. NCJRS - National Criminal Justice Reference Service

  8. Network version of the Encyclopaedia Britanica

  9. Standard Generalised Mark up Language

  10. APEC - Association of European Police Colleges

Table of Contents | Revisioning Community Policing

The HTML conversion of this chapter was supported by the
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National Criminal Justice Reference Service
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