I attended the national meeting of UK European Document Centres on Friday 23 October at Europe House in London. The meetings used to be an annual event, but there has been a hiatus, and this was my first ever meeting (in nearly 4 years in post).
There is currently a Pan-European Working Group on the future of EDCs, and this was the main theme of the meeting. A survey of EDCs was conducted in September, but the outcome has not yet been published. Of the 31 ECDs in the UK, only 14 were represented at the meeting, and only 2 others sent apologies. Even with BREXIT on the horizon (UK referendum on Europe), there appears to be apathy within the UK regarding Europe and EDCs.
The morning discussion was led by Ian Thomson of (the almost legendary) Cardiff EDC. He is representing the UK in the Working Group, and was keen to learn how other universities, manage their European information services.
There was general agreement that the title ‘European Document Centre’ no longer reflected the service. EU documents are now published online, and the modern EDC is less a physical space and collection of printed materials, and more access to and expert advice on finding online EU information.
Many university libraries are weeding their official publications, which includes materials in the EDC. There was concern about preserving ‘the last printed copy’, and the British Library is happy to accept donations of material to fill their own gaps. [The British Library will be collating an online archive of BREXIT materials].
There was strong support for the role of the EDC network, at both UK and European levels. The EDC network provides librarians with support and access to a expertise and training.
Ian also spoke about the work of the Cardiff EDC: it is a separate unit within Cardiff University, with a high profile and reputation at all levels (University, Wales, UK and Europe). The Cardiff EDC (re)aligns their work to the University strategy: discovery, content, learning space, teaching and learning, research support, community outreach.
Although they are involved in many large projects (European Sources Online); Ian was keen to stress that other EDCs could have success with small interventions to promote their services, e.g. a welcome event for Erasmus students, careers talks about working in the EU, guides to travel in Europe for international students, and an event or quiz to mark Europe Day (9 May).
The afternoon sessions involved a series of short presentations:
Jacqueline Minor (Head of European Commission Representation in the UK)
A welcome introduction stressing importance of EDCs, and access to objective information, in run-up to UK EU referendum. The EU is to take an impartial stance, but will provide information, and work to correct factual inaccuracies.
Patrick Overy (EDC Exeter)
Info-Europa newsletter (a weekly bulletin of EU publications)
Eurodoc (an email discussion forum for EU information)
Frederico Rocha (EDC Cardiff)
Sources of EU news and current awareness:
The Local (European news services in English)
Euro | Topics (European news aggregation service)
Ian Thomson (EDC Cardiff)
European Sources Online is a value added search engine linking EU policy and information, and indexing primary and secondary EU sources, as well as guides to EU information.
Silvia Cobo-Benito (EU Bookshop)
All EDCs have privileged user accounts with the EU bookshop. This allows the user to order multiple copies of items (100 copies per title per language). Many EU publications are free – although some (print on demand titles need to be purchased). Two types of publication: central EU publications and UK representation publications.