The aim of the project is to develop a commercially viable decision support module for integration into established library management systems. The partners will undertake a programme of collaborative research to investigate the needs and practices of decision makers in small to medium size libraries in a range of sectors and cultural milieus. A user requirements specification (URS) will be developed from the research into decision making. In addition a design for a technical architecture and an integrated decision support module will be investigated. The module will be evaluated for its effectiveness in supporting the decision making processes in small to medium size libraries.
Impact and expected results:
Through the development and testing of a decision support module for integration into an established library management system DECIMAL will add considerably to the understanding of operational, tactical and strategic decision making in libraries, notably in those of a small to medium size.
It will also provide an opportunity for enhancement of management skills in libraries throughout Europe.
In addition, it will implement decision making modules in a prototype system with commercial potential.
The primary deliverable will be the decision support module prototype. The technical specification and evaluation of that module will be classified as restricted, but within the public domain will be:
Integration research report;
User requirements specification;
Technical design document;
The approach will be a basic research phase followed by prototyping and subsequent product development. A structured evaluation phase is also included. The harmonisation and convergence of national and Europe-wide policies for decision support for libraries will be encouraged in the project.
The work will be undertaken in three main phases:
RESEARCH PHASE which will assess requirements and use made of decision support systems, management information systems, quality assurance methods and performance indicators in European libraries;
User requirements specification;
TECHNICAL PHASE which will include the specification and development of the prototype;
Design of technical architecture;
Development of decision support modules;
Evaluation and testing;
Information is to be disseminated at specially convened workshops, at conferences and at other events, throughout all project phases.
Key Issues :
The project will complement current work on performance indicators and build on research (oriented towards exporting data to external packages and providing analyses) in large academic libraries by:
Addressing decision support needs in libraries, particularly in the more fragmented small to medium sized sector;
Examining the usability of operational transaction processing data fed into library management systems, in enhancing the decision making process at all levels;
Determining the more qualitative requirements for incorporation into a decision support module, taking into account how and why librarians make decisions, what decisions they have to make and how they are affected by social, political, financial, human and environmental problems;
Undertaking the project in three member states, to give a cross-cultural perspective and provide a comprehensive approach to requirements.
DECIMAL will adopt suitable stan-dards in line with the ISO/OSI suite of protocols for open systems. Development will conform to EDI EDIFACT and Z39.50. It will use SQL (Structured Query Language) and DDE.
Documentation is available from the contact below and from http://darion.mmu.ac.uk/h&ss/lis/research/decimal/decimal.htm.