The project addresses the need of all libraries to develop and utilise performance measures for the new networked, electronic environment, alongside traditional measures, and to operate these within a framework of quality management. Within the project a strand of work will develop international agreement on standard performance measures for the electronic library environment, building on existing agreements for traditional library services. The project builds on the recommendations, strongly endorsed by the EC reviewers, of the EQLIPSE (FP3) Project, on the CAMILE Concerted Action and on the MINSTREL, DECIMAL and DECIDE Projects.
EQUINOX will develop, and prove in large-scale demonstrations, an integrated quality management and performance measurement tool for library managers.
With the increasing use of electronic resources and services in libraries, EQUINOX will help libraries to understand and better manage:
their traditional workflows and organisation of tasks;
the ways they interact with their users and staffs;
their interactions with other departments and services in their organisation;
their interactions with their suppliers.
EQUINOX will enhance and adapt the current EQLIPSE ISO9000 compliant Library Management System (QMS) and the ISO 11620 compliant Library Performance Measurement and Benchmarking Indicators to address these issues in an open and generic way. It will provide assistance to managers operating in non-ISO9000 quality management frameworks. It will build interfaces between constituent service applications to facilitate economy of data collection and will be hospitable to future enhancements of the performance indicator standards.
The definition of electronic library performance indicators will be addressed in a horizontal workpackage. However, EQUINOX will be hospitable to any defined performance measure so enabling libraries to choose to enhance the internationally agreed set with local indicators.
EQUINOX will develop:
A quality management module based on an existing document management and applications development environment supporting the functionality identified in the EQLIPSE project.
A performance management module, developed from the EQLIPSE product supporting flexible and efficient links from the quality management module, and built around a SQL-compliant database residing on the client..
An EQUINOX/library automation system interface allowing both ODBC SQL and magnetic media transfer from multiple sources to multiple databases
Development of a set of electronic library performance indicators and definition of the datasets needed for them.
Specification of data transfer formats and the development of interface software modules for both the EQUINOX client and a range of library systems.
Impact and expected results
EQUINOX will be the first system to provide librarians with an integrated tool for managing the 'hybrid' library i.e. the mix of traditional (paper-based) and electronic services, coupled with integrated advisory services, which is becoming the norm. The Project will also provide Europe with a leading role internationally in the development of standards for electronic library performance indicators.
The previous projects in this area showed that there are great benefits in a co-ordinated and co-operative approach which brings together expertise from across Europe and provides a variety of perspectives on this work. Indeed, the area of quality management is a good case in point, where collaborative action demonstrated that although in some countries the International Standard approach was acceptable, in others it had little to offer libraries. Yet all libraries had common aims. EQUINOX will provide a framework for finding this common library quality management framework applicable to all European libraries.
It is important to note that the development of a system which addresses the management of electronic library services has very wide potential application to all providers of electronic information services. The partners thus believe that EQUINOX will make a very real contribution to the development of the Information Society in Europe.
Finally it has to be noted that the United States has become active in this area and that it is important that a concerted European approach be undertaken to protect the position of European libraries and to enable them to maintain the world lead which they currently possess.