The Central Institute for the Union Catalogue of Italian Libraries and Bibliographic Information took on the current denomination in 1975 following the constitution of The Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities, formerly the Ministry for Cultural and Environmental Heritage. The National Centre for the Union Catalogue was created in 1951 with the task of cataloguing the entire national bibliographic heritage.
This objective is pursued due to a considerable collaboration strategy among Italian libraries even coming under varied administrations. This ensures the development of services on the same level throughout the entire nation. Resulting from this collaboration is the establishment of the National Library Service. This national on-line service network, to which the state, local institutions, and university libraries is connected, contribute to the founding of the national collective on-line catalogue which is managed by the Institute.
The Institute, whose reference point is the General Direction for Library Heritage, Cultural Institutes and Copyright, carries out coordination functions with due respect to library autonomy in the field of National Library Service as well as cataloguing projects accomplished through the use of new information technology. ICCU acts as coordinator of the National Library Service (SBN) and of the digitalization projects produced by using metadata standards and related to the project Italian Digital Library (BDI).
In order to improve the knowledge of bibliographic collections as well as simplify user access, the Institute promotes and coordinates the databases concerning 16th Century Italian editions, the national census of manuscripts and the libraries present throughout Italy. To support cataloguing activities conducted by the Italian libraries, the Institute is responsible for guiding, producing, adapting and diffusing the standard rules and regulations for cataloguing all types of materials ranging from manuscripts to multimedia documents.