Interim evaluation of the EC Library and e-resources Centre. Executive Summary

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1 Interim evaluation of the EC Library and e-resources Centre Executive Summary Written by Panteia September 2015

2 EUROPEAN COMMISSION Directorate-General for Education and Culture DG EAC D3 Library and e-resources Centre Contact: Jean Herdies RESEARCH TEAM Natasha Stroeker, project manager (Panteia) Gert-Jan Lindeboom, evaluator (Panteia) Bert-Jan Buiskool, evaluator (Ockham IPS) CONTRACTOR Bredewater CA Zoetermeer The Netherlands Tel. +31 (0) Fax. +31 (0)

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4 Europe Direct is a service to help you find answers to your questions about the European Union. Freephone number (*): (*) The information given is free, as are most calls (though some operators, phone boxes or hotels may charge you). LEGAL NOTICE This document has been prepared for the European Commission however it reflects the views only of the authors, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein. More information on the European Union is available on the Internet ( Luxembourg: Publications Office of the European Union, 2014 ISBN doi: /8451 European Union, 2014 Reproduction is authorised provided the source is acknowledged. Printed in [Country] PRINTED ON ELEMENTAL CHLORINE-FREE BLEACHED PAPER (ECF) PRINTED ON TOTALLY CHLORINE-FREE BLEACHED PAPER (TCF) PRINTED ON RECYCLED PAPER PRINTED ON PROCESS CHLORINE-FREE RECYCLED PAPER (PCF)

5 Interim evaluation of the EC Library and e-resources Centre Executive Summary EXECUTIVE SUMMARY This Report presents the results of the Interim-Evaluation of the Library and e- Resources Centre of the European Commission. The evaluation was requested by the European Commission and was undertaken by Panteia in early The project provides an assessment of the extent to which the relevance, utility, effectiveness and efficiency of the European Commission Library and e-resources Centre (hereafter the Commission Library or CL ) has improved, as a result of the response to the external evaluation carried out in The evaluation approach is based on a thorough review of existing documents, data, an online survey to Commission staff and external users, targeted interviews with Library correspondents in DGs, various visits to the Library and a focus group, which consisted of 17 Commission staff members who work on a regular basis with the Commission Library. The design of the evaluation is based on the principle of methodological triangulation. To verify the validity of the findings, all data from the various methods have been validated against each other. Background The Commission Library has the mission to conserve and develop collections and documentation on European integration and to make them available to staff of the European Commission, other EU institutions and to citizens. The Commission Library is housed on two sites - one in Brussels, which hosts the central services, and the other in Luxembourg. Its general collections are combined with the specialised collections of the Commission's Directorates-General (DGs) in a single automated catalogue. In 2009, the Library requested an independent external evaluation in order to assess the relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of its services. Based on these findings, the Commission Library formulated its Strategy to ensure continued relevance and utility of its services. Since this evaluation, considerable changes have been taking place in the system of Commission libraries. In 2011, the European Commission closed local libraries for the DGs AGRI, DEVCO, REGIO, ECFIN, CONNECT, EMPL, MOVE/ENER for efficiency reasons, and since then more local libraries have been closed (such as in DG ENTR, ENV/CLIMA and HOME/JUST in 2013). In this context, the Commission Library requested an assessment of the continued relevance, effectiveness and efficiency of the Commission Library s activities and organisation, covering, in particular, the period since the last evaluation: i.e The continued relevance of the Commission Library The evaluation shows that the services and collections of the Commission Library continue to be relevant for Commission staff. The Library provides printed resources and a large number of e-resources, which assist Commission staff in their daily work. Particularly the increasing attention for e-resources, as confirmed in the recent name change of the Library, is crucial to ensure the continued relevance of the Commission Library. A decreasing number of printed resources are being requested by users, and printed resources are often only loaned once in their lifetime. The trends in the wider world of information suggest that this usage will only continue to decline. At the same time however, the increased use of e-resources and changing user s search strategies create challenges to visibility, as staff no longer need to contact the Library directly to access its resources. In addition, the ongoing closure of local libraries in various DGs further raises the distance between users and the Commission Library. As a result, staff members do not always know where to find specialised collections. The vague institutional objectives of the Library challenge its continued relevance, and do not explicitly refer to knowledge management within in the wider EC. As a result, little ownership of CL objectives exists among the Commission hierarchy, as confirmed by Commission staff in the survey. This is problematic for the development of internal 5

6 Interim evaluation of the EC Library and e-resources Centre Executive Summary knowledge management in the Commission, but also risks reducing the relevance of the work of the Commission Library in the near future. Overall, the services and collections provided by the CL offer an added value compared with external information providers and electronic resources restricted to certain Commission departments. The evaluation shows that users continue to see an added value and relevance for the collection and services offered by the Commission Library. The ongoing cataloguing efforts by Commission Library staff are becoming increasingly redundant in view of meta-data available for use in the wider world of information. However, the acquisition of a new Library Management System in the near future is most likely to reduce such redundancies. Finally, the evaluation shows that the added value of the Commission Library for external users is unclear in comparison to the large number of European Documentation Centres (around 400 across the EU), which are present in all Member States and provide citizens access to collections in the field of European integration. Utility of the Library services and collections Only half of all Commission staff surveyed indicate that they use services offered by the Library; those that do however are very satisfied with the achieved results and the services provided. Online resources are increasingly referred to by Library users, which is matched by an increasing focus in the Library s acquisition policies on e- resources. The Commission Library adopted a digital first acquisition policy, in which it only acquires printed resources if there is no digital alternative. Despite the adoption of this policy, the Library has only slowly scaled back the acquisitions of printed material, and spends a substantial share of its budget on paper newspapers. In order to remain useful for its users, the acquisition practices can be further adjusted towards e-resources. This also has the potential to increase the utility of Library services and collections for Commission staff located outside Brussels and Luxembourg. The evaluation shows a demand for providing assistance to Commission staff to find the resources they need, particularly where a local library has recently closed. Over the last years, correspondents have been appointed in DGs without libraries, often from among the former staff of the local library. In many cases however, these have contributed insufficiently to awareness of the library in their DGs and many did not consider their role of correspondent as their core activity. As a result, the activities carried out in individual DGs depended to a large extent on the personal dedication of these correspondents, who were not backed up by a more structured strategy, such as support by the hierarchy and clearly identifiable targets and objectives. The ongoing communication activities are insufficient. It is not sufficient to merely have a website or working social media accounts. Particularly in view of the contextual and institutional challenges that the Commission Library faces, a proactive attitude towards (potential) users is crucial. The limited utility of communication activities conducted since the last evaluation did not improve the visibility of the Commission Library, which as a consequence impacted not only the utility of the Commission Library, but equally its relevance, effectiveness and efficiency. Effectiveness in reaching objectives The Commission Library has been effective in meeting its institutional objectives. First of all, it makes available relevant collections, both to Commission staff and external users. Secondly, users indicate that the Commission Library helps them to achieve better results in their work and improves the evidence base for European policies. Thirdly, the Library also actively cooperates with partner libraries and institutions, as required by its objectives. However, its activities are not sufficiently visible, which limits a possible role of the Library as active partner in facilitating knowledge management within the European Commission.. 6

7 Interim evaluation of the EC Library and e-resources Centre Executive Summary The Commission Library s effectiveness in improving interactive services to users without having to rely upon Library staff assistance has reduced the visibility of the library to core users. If a Commission official needed a particular resource in the past, the library was a natural partner to provide him / her with this resource. Currently, many resources are available on EC workstations, without having to call upon external assistance. This underlines the effectiveness of the Library, but reduces visibility. Efficiency of resources deployed There are no indications that the costs of the Library are spent inefficiently, but some expenses have been highlighted where efficiency may be improved in the near future. The increased use of e-resources will substantially change the role and tasks of the Library. From that perspective, spending a third of the annual budget on the acquisition of printed newspapers becomes increasingly disproportionate. Other costs also need to be adjusted to this. The substantial burden on the budget of storage costs of printed resources (which on an annual basis are higher than the costs for acquisition / renewal of online resources) become increasingly disproportionate in view of the decreasing importance of printed resources for users. These resources are appreciated by external users, but offer little added value to existing provisions, such as the EU-financed European Documentation Centres. The organisational setup and internal procedures fit the current objectives and activities of the Library. However, reshaping the CL into a more client-oriented organisation can be accompanied by further improvements in efficiency. An important step in this direction has already been taken by the Commission Library, by deploying the existing team of librarians to the reference service. Using existing human resources for newly arising tasks and library activities contributes to the efficiency of operations. The availability of existing meta-data for large amounts of online resources, combined with the acquisition of a new Library Management System, provides the opportunity to free up the time spent by librarians on 20 th century cataloguing work, and focus more directly on client needs. The reduced use of printed resources will further impact the organisational setup, and will substantially change the work of the circulation and acquisition teams. Therefore, the organisational set up and internal procedures need to be critically aligned to the challenges of the next decade. Recommendations Key recommendations have been formulated based on the conclusions, which seek to provide guidance in the transformation needed for the Commission Library to respond to current and future challenges. These can be grouped around three broad headings: Improve visibility of the Library among Commission staff Take up an active role for the Library in knowledge management within the EC Adjust Library service provision to future information needs Improve awareness and visibility of Library among Commission staff by: Drawing up a strategic long-term communication plan, which formulates its objectives, the targeted population and the activities to implement; Proactively setting up targeted activities to reach specific groups of users in various DGs, such as tailored trainings, seminars and conferences; Organising specific trainings for more experienced Administrators, while continuing with the introduction courses for newly recruited Administrators. Take up an active role in knowledge management within the European Commission by: Institutionally relocating the Commission Library from DG EAC as a service reporting to the Secretariat-General, to emphasise its Commission-wide focus; Affirming the relevant role of the Commission Library to support knowledge management in the European Commission into its mission statement; 7

8 Interim evaluation of the EC Library and e-resources Centre Executive Summary Introducing embedded librarians through assigning librarians to a DG and physically moving his/her office to ensure a feedback link with individual DGs; Training embedded librarians regularly at the Library; Further developing the ask a librarian service, for instance by setting up a client management system which allows tracking of the various requests from Commission staff and monitoring the quality of responses; Developing a broader quality assurance approach to internal library procedures, by defining a number of key performance indicators (KPI), based on ISO library standards but tailored to the needs of the Library; Further centralising control over acquisition processes of technical databases and specialised resources, which are currently done by individual DGs. Adjust Library service provision to future information needs, by: Continuing the development of e-resources acquisition and match this ambition in the requirements for a future Library Management System; Replacing the acquisition of printed newspaper copies with electronic access, if possible to the entire Commission staff; Continuing weeding the centrally located printed resource collection; Combining the teams responsible for circulation, acquisitions and renewals of printed resources, and where possible downsizing these; More actively recruiting academic experts in computer and library sciences Discontinuing the cataloguing efforts of the pre-1978 collections; Digitising Commission Library unique collection pieces for online publication; Reconsidering the provision of services to external users in the reading rooms, and redefining these spaces into modern training centres. Based on these recommendations, a number of possible scenarios are defined, offering possible policy directions for different ambition levels. High ambition: as Information Centre for Digital Resources, the CL becomes the central information partner in EC knowledge management, offering relevant collections, tailored services, specific training and highly skilled staff. Medium ambition: would introduce the innovative elements of the high ambition scenario, but is more limited due to budget restraints. Low ambition: under continuation of the status quo, visibility in the EC would remain minimal, and its services are not connected to EC knowledge management. Its collections would become more and more irrelevant. No ambition: close down the CL and its services. This would effectively decentralise any information management and lead to inefficiencies. 8

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