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Table of Contents

ICT Handbook for Parliamentary Libraries

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 - Introduction

Chapter 2 - Selection and Management of Library ICT Services

Chapter 3 - Core Library Services

Chapter 4 - Archives and Records Management

Chapter 5 - Social Media and Web

Chapter 6 - Impact measures and statistics


Further Reading

Background to the Handbook

This handbook has been sponsored by the Global Centre for ICT in Parliamentary Libraries and the IFLA Parliamentary Libraries Section. The handbook has been prepared by Dr Edmund Balnaves in conjunction with an international editorial committee comprising Soledad Ferreiro (Chile), Moira Fraser (New Zealand), Adolfo Furtado (Brazil), Daniela Giacomelli (Global Centre for ICT), John Pullinger (United Kingdom), Roxanne Missingham (Australia), Sari Pajula (Finland), Albert Nuntja (South Africa), Andy Richardson (Switzerland), Innocent Rugambwa (Uganda), Donna Scheeder (United States of America), Raissa Teodori (Italy), William Young (Canada).

Chapter 1: Introduction & Roadmap

The ICT-based Library

The purpose of this handbook is to provide a template for the implementation of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in Parliamentary Libraries. The library has a significant role for information provision in the Parliament. Information and Communications Technology can enhance this role by facilitating effective access to information resources – both to the physical assets held by the library and electronic resources held locally and through electronic gateways. ICT can also enhance the capability of the library to provide timely, accurate and impartial research advice to Parliamentary members and their staff. There are several classes of software that facilitate the management of libraries, and this handbook will explore these systems and practical experience in Parliamentary libraries deploying these systems. These systems can be best understood by reference to the wider role of the Parliamentary library that is covered by the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) publication “Guidelines for Legislative Libraries”. This handbook presents current developments in ICT for parliamentary libraries, with specific reference to software, standards and case studies.

Classes of software that this handbook explores are:

  • Research and Reference Desk Services
  • Library Management Systems
  • Digital Library System
  • Document Delivery Systems
  • Content Management System
  • Digital Archives
  • Social media and Web 2.0 applications

Taken together, these systems can provide a powerful platform for effective service delivery in the Parliamentary library. The “Guidelines for Legislative Libraries” situate the Parliamentary Library in the context of their:

  1. Focus on parliamentary needs
  2. Impartiality
  3. Synthesis from different sources
  4. Public Policy coverage
  5. Confidentiality
  6. Collective memory
  7. Quantitative success factors for parliamentary systems

The roadmap in this section and the chapters that follow present ICT practice that can enhance the role of the library and reinforce these values.

Using this handbook

This handbook provides an overview of Information Communications Technology in Parliamentary Libraries. Each section has a discussion of technology and ICT services and further information categorised into:


This handbook also includes a Glossary that explains the many acronyms and technical terms used with ICT systems for libraries.

The World Wide Web has transformed information discovery behaviour of clients and the technology available to libraries. These have the potential to transform the way in which Parliamentary Libraries work and their capability to delivery resources to members, clients and the general citizenry that the library serves.

Web-based information resources

Libraries have long used web-based database services to provide detailed research for their clients. The last decade has seen increasing availability of rich database and web information resources directly available to users on the Web, such as Wikipedia and various Google research services. A Delphi study by the library of the Parliament of Australia identified the elements of the research services provided by the library that were valued by clients:

* Impartial…

  • Independent…
  • A gateway…
  • Understanding…
  • Builders…
  • Flexible…
  • Focused on the whole of parliament…
  • Connected… (Missingham 2011 p. 58)

Encouragingly, these echo the sentiments of the IFLA “Guidelines for Legislative Libraries”. However the Delphi study also identified new attitudes to information discovery, such as Google, as a potential threat to the current role of Research Services in the Parliamentary library, unless harnessed as a vehicle of communication by the library. These new information pathways could have the potential to marginalise the library as an information source. The relevance of the library can be maintained through its ability to focus on the specific needs of their clients and provide accurate research and analysis in an impartial and confidential manner, and to provide an effective research synthesis using the information resources available to the library.

Web 2.0 and two-way communication

The World Wide Web (WWW) has provided a general platform for connecting people to information resources and services. A significant phenomenon of the last 10 years in the Internet has been the impact of Web 2.0 in the expectations of interactivity and two way communication with services and interactive communication between Internet users. The increasing depth of information and changing modes of communication have an inevitable impact on Parliamentary Libraries. Social media is changing the mode of communication between the citizenry and their representatives, and through members to a need to deploy new technologies and interactive communication (Missingham 2011) in the Parliamentary Library. The 2001 Delphi study by Parliament of Australia identified this trend as both an opportunity and a threat. The opportunity lies in the trust value placed in the library as an authoritative information source – parliamentary library and research source.

Social media has recently been profoundly influential in changing the governance landscape. The extent of penetration of social media will vary from country to country, but the impact of social media applications through mobile devices can be magnified even where Internet access is not widespread. The influence of Web 2.0 is demonstrated by the increasing transparency of government forced by ubiquitous and variable pathways of information flow through Social Media. This has the potential to create new ways of democratic engagement and participation. For example in Brazil's Chamber of Deputies, the E-Democracia site ( provides an example of how Web 2.0 is being used to foster democratic engagement and participation. It has discussion forums, wiki and other collaboration tools that allow citizens to interact with members who are reporting specific issues in their committees or on the Floor. This puts new and unusual pressure on Parliament to engage with these new technologies. The parliamentary library needs to be conversant in these issues and in some cases may lead the transformation of parliamentary web services to support Web 2.0.

The fifth chapter explores tools and approaches to social media and Web 2.0.

Open Source Software (OSS)

The “open source” movement emerged as a systematic method of distributing software in full source code in a manner that ensured it's ongoing availability in open source with no license fee. The success of this movement has hinged on the ease of collaborative programming in an Internet environment, and service-based and reputation-based business models for software development. Libraries themselves have an established history in systematic development of standards and the implementation of data interchange systems. For instance, the Library of Congress has released a range of tools in open source to support MARC (Machine Readable Cataloging). The Z39.50 standard has enabled open inter-networking of library catalogues, and open source code libraries have facilitated the inclusion of Z39.50 in open source solutions for libraries.

The first comprehensive suite of software released in open source for libraries was the Koha Library Management system. It has an active developer community internationally and has been translated for use in a multi-lingual environment. The first experiments in open source library management systems have also helped evolve the sophisticated database schema's supporting current open source library management systems such as Greenstone, Evergreen and Koha 3. Open source options are now available for the core systems needed for most aspects of library operation although they vary considerably in functionality, capability and levels of support. One of the challenges in implementation of open source is the selection of a sustainable support model for ongoing support. This involves the scrutiny of the levels of professional support available internally and externally to support an open source installation and ongoing operation. A popular model emerging for open source delivery is external hosting and support.

The technical knowledge to install and maintain an open source solution may be unavailable to a small library. Where open source is to be internally supported, it is important to focus on open source solutions that can be supported through the current ICT architecture used in the Parliament. A common confusion is that open source means “free”. While OSS has no license fees, no information technology system operation is free. The ongoing nurturing of a system, software upgrades over time, support for customisations and enhancements, server administration, network costs are just a few of the base-line elements of managing an information system. Nevertheless, the amortisation of the software support across a wide installed base makes for an effective cost model for smaller institutions. OSS can provide a level of certainty for an institution in their operation costs once established. The larger the community of adopters of open source the stronger the overall support. OSS can also provide a level of security in that there is no proprietary lock-in and the code is visible (and therefore can be corrected). The functional depth of this security will be improved by the work of those adopting the open source model.

Digital Libraries

The Parliamentary Library manages an increasing diverse collection of electronic resources, including material that was “born digital” and managed by the library (digital publications, media releases, parliamentary records), information digitised by the library for preservation, access to electronic collections, digital news feeds and Online catalogue access. The increasing complexity of these resources introduces challenges to maintain simplicity in the context of growing complexity in the underlying resources - leading to requirements for federated searching and single sign-on. In addition, integration of digital services with more traditional print based resources ia a challenge for both management and staff, particularly in parliamentary libraries with a long tradition of print resources and services. Parliamentary Libraries such as Library of Congress and Universities were among the first to have fostered the development and adoption of Digital Library systems. Universities, in particular, have supported the development of rich, stable, open source software for Digital Library management.

The Digital Library can act as a repository for digital documents management by the library - either items born in digital form or items that have been converted to electronic format by the library. Open source can also be an enabler for the adoption of open access in an institution. Digital Libraries are becoming prevalent in Parliamentary Libraries both to support the role of the library in preserving the collective memory of the Parliament and in providing ready access to news, current affairs and electronic resource relevant to the Parliamentary Members.

Open Access

Open Access (OA) publishing models have gained increasing acceptance. Open Access publishing has two common models: where the author places a pre-publication copy of their work within their own Digital Library (or institutional repository) or where the publication is submitted to an publication that funds publication by charging the author rather than the subscriber for the cost of publication/distribution. Adoption of OSS and OA has been has progressed in parallel, and in similar time-frames. The Open Access model is in part a response to the increasing cost burden to institutions of traditional publishing models and in part a desire by authors to gain greater visibility for their work. Open Access publishing benefits libraries and their clients by making information more readily accessible.

Service Oriented Architecture (SOA)

There has been a movement in enterprise architectures toward Service Oriented Architectures. This trend has emerged in an increasingly complex ecosystem of ICT services. Systems designed around a SOA principle expose their processes and business rules at a number of layers, creating multiple points at which these systems can interconnect. For instance, Koha includes not only a web-based interface but also service interfaces for archive harvesting (OAI/PMH), self sign-on (CAS) and several service-level interfaces to the circulation work flow - as well as Web 2.0 interfaces such as RSS. The “loose coupling” of system design allows the substitution of different user interfaces, business rules and process interfaces. ICT software for libraries is gradually making a transition to SOA frameworks and design principles.

Semantic Web and inter-operability

There has been substantial progress toward service inter-operability in the key ICT systems for libraries: the Digital Library and the Integrated Library Management System (ILMS). For example the Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI/PMH) is a well established metadata interchange framework which has been widely implemented in library systems. It can provide a method for making the ILMS resources and the Digital Library resources visible to Federated Search engines and to regional resource catalogues. The Semantic Web, a method for resource description in the world wide web context, along with Resource Description Framework (RDF) is another framework for providing effective inter-operability of library resources through rich linked data sets. The movement to Semantic Web adoption and web service interoperability help to increase the visibility of library resources outside the traditional catalogue.


Many of the systems discussed in this handbook require a careful and planned implementation process to achieve success. The first step in this planning is to understand the particular requirements of your Parliament. The typical parliamentary library has a range of stakeholders, including members, staff, citizens, regional collaborating libraries, and the wider global community via the Internet. It is important to understand their needs in framing the technology priorities for the library.

This planning process also entails planning for effective service delivery using ICT to achieve benefits from the ICT systems deployed by the library. Unfortunately, a large number of information technology projects fail to achieve their goals or fail entirely. Over-ambitious targets or lack of internal capacity can mean that ICT fails to yield its promised benefits. Failure of an information technology project can be due to cost escalation, poor software fit, infrastructure issues or other similar causes.

The following Roadmap charts an approach for software evolution in a Parliamentary Library context. You should judge the order of implementation of systems based on the current needs in your Parliament, the availability of resources to implement and support systems and the existing ICT capability within the Parliament. For instance, where Internet availability is not strong, the focus may be more on building fundamental resources such as the catalogue and the Digital Library.

Step 1: Situation analysis of Core library services

When implementing a new system in the Parliamentary library, it is important to understand the needs of the clients that the library serves. These clients include most importantly the members, their staff and the citizens they are elected to represent. The information systems deployed by the library will have a dual role of preserving collective memory over time and meeting the current information needs of the library clients. These information needs can be assessed through:

  1. quantitative evaluation of current and previous requests placed through the library, to help focus on the development of resources to meet these information needs (for instance holding a focus group with members or their staff)
  2. qualitative research (for example interviews, Delphi studies, surveys) of members and their staff to review their current needs (for instance using an online survey on your intranet perhaps with free survey tools such as SurveyMonkey).
  3. the library staff are involved in and part of committees and other activities of the Parliament.

This survey of the current information needs can help to provide the focus and priorities in selecting the investment by the library on information systems to meet these needs. This focus might be on:

  • improving accessibility of the current collections through an improved Integrated Library Management System (ILMS), or
  • providing improved gateways to information resources relevant to parliamentarians, or
  • implementing a digital library to improve access to media releases and current awareness items (for example collections of news items on and about parliamentarians), or
  • improved systems to support the research serves of the library.

Chapter Two provides guidelines on the process of developing an Information Strategy, and for software selection and the typical project management steps in implementing software. Chapter Three outlines Core library service - that is, the set of software tools that will typically be used in Parliamentary libraries. The specific focus on which systems that are relevant to a specific library depends on this review of current requirements.

Evaluate your library against the core areas for Parliamentary libraries identified in Chapter Three.

Reflect on key factors that drive effective Parliamentary library service delivery:

Focus on parliamentary needs - what services would most facilitate the work of parliamentary members, their research staff and the parliamentary institution.

Impartiality - evaluate your technological infrastructure and review the degree to which it delivers access to information in an impartial / confidential manner.

Synthesis from different sources - the library has a trusted role as a reliable information source.

Public Policy coverage - the provision of effective research services, and the integration of current awareness and news feeds in information flow provided by the library

Collective memory - the management of digital and physical resources that reinforces the role of information in sustainable parliamentary democracy. In the ICT context, this can include the support for records management systems, digital libraries and digital news feeds.

Quantitative success factors for parliamentary systems. From an Information Technology perspective: develop service level agreements that cover you main service delivery areas. Ensure that your library systems collect information in a systematic manner that supports aggregate reporting on quantitative success factors. Statistics are an important factor in communicating the relevance of the library. They can also assist the library to direct its focus in the area of information delivery most needed by the members and staff of the Parliament.

Your information strategy should provide a framework for preparing a business case for ICT implementation in your library. Consider your ICT services in terms of their “product placement” and therefore the marketing and communication strategies required to ensure awareness of these services. Parliamentary members and their staff have a broad range of competing information sources and information demands, and they may not be aware of the benefits for focused service delivery that the library can provide. Member induction programmes, newsletters and information bulletins are one means of communicating awareness of the capabilities of the library. Building a presence in the Web 2.0 social media forums and having a physical presence in critical Parliamentary forums (such as committee meetings) can also play a part.

Step 2: Develop a plan for your library for development of your core library services:

Chapter Three explores the core services that will be typical of all parliamentary libraries. It covers:

The library management system - this is your principle tool for collection management of the physical assets - from acquisition, to cataloging, search and discovery, and circulation.

Electronic collection building and digital libraries - the provision of access to electronic resources, including Digital Libraries as a repository for digital resources owned by the Parliament, and access to subscription databases, e-books and e-journals.

The reference/research services - this is the primary point of personal contact with your members and the means for provision of targeted research relevant to the current needs of the Parliamentary members and their staff.

The library and parliamentary websites - the intranet, extranet and public websites of the library are an important point of contact for resource discovery. With the transition to digital resources these points of access may be the principle point of contact with your clients.

The particular focus for your library in implementing these systems depends on the priorities defined in your evaluation of current needs and requirements.

Step 3: Develop a plan for your library for management of parliamentary records and electronic services

The parliamentary library may have a records management role, and will increasingly have an intersection with the management of digital resources. Where the parliamentary records are to be maintained in hard copy, the ILMS can play an important role in the management of these records. Record Management in through the ILMS workflow can track the accessioning, location and availability of parliamentary records. The ILMS can facilitate periodic review/stocktaking of parliamentary records, and the identification and management of the archival Copy for Record and the copy for loan. Finally the ILMS can support the discovery of parliamentary records through it search interface and web services. This can be important in supporting the role of the Parliamentary Library in preserving the collective memory and acting as a resource to the nation and regionally.

Parliamentary records are increasingly in digital form. The implementation of a digital library can be large project. It is important to ensure the correct infrastructure of the digital library is in place (see Chapter Three). The lead time in implementing ICT services to support these activities can be several years. It is therefore important to survey the expected role of the library in this area. The fourth chapter in this handbook explores the management of digital resources. These come in a variety of shapes. The digital library can be an important resource to sustain the role of the library in maintaining the collective memory of the Parliament. The digital library may contain a variety of resources that are the result of digitisation, information feeds from other sources, the collection and metadata description of news releases, and potentially the management of the digital records of the parliamentary sittings. The Library must be prepared to manage the entire digital life cycle including preservation of these digital resources. A second recurrent factor in the evolution of a digital library repository in the Parliamentary Library is the requirement for effective work flow processes to mitigate the labour-intensive nature of digital library management. The work flow processes man encompass steps to make the ingestion process more efficient, and work flow processes to ensure the metadata description of the resources.

Step 4: Develop a plan for your library for social networking and Web 2.0

Web 2.0 provides opportunities for the library to make services more visible and more accessible. The challenge of Web 2.0 is to maintain the relevance of the library in the context where parliamentary members and their staff are drawing on divers information sources. Their awareness of the ongoing role of the parliamentary library and the ways it can support their function is critical. In the Web 2.0 engaged world, this can entail exploring social media to ensure that the library is present in the domains of discourse favoured by their clientèle. The fifth chapter in this workbook explores the role of social media and Web 2.0 The values expressed in the “Guidelines for Legislative libraries” are potentially challenged or enhanced by the pressures the social network and Web 2.0 place on the parliamentary library. Members and their staff may now have divers sources of information to draw on. In this context, it becomes all the more important to focus on parliamentary needs by situating the library in the information “places” that they frequent. Equally, it is all the more significant to robustly project the role of the library as an effective and impartial information source for members. Channeling information synthesis through distribution channels that include web 2.0 may be a growing part of the picture for libraries.

Social networking can be an asset for library staff, but time and investment in professional development in the new services and resources available in this context is also important.

Chapter 2: Selection, implementation and management of ICT services for libraries


The Information and Communications Technology options available to libraries are unparalleled. A carefully managed project can considerably enhance the services provided by the Parliamentary library to its Clients. However, unlike engineering projects, ICT projects are notoriously vulnerable to failure. The selection of suitable software for a parliamentary library should be undertaken carefully and systematically. The business case should be situated in the context of an overall Information Strategy for development of the resources management by the library. This could also include a content strategy for management and presentation of content on the corporate intranet. This chapter provides an overview of the general principles of software selection and implementation management. A careful approach to software selection and service management can reduce the risks of project failure. Above all, it is important to understand the requirements of library current information needs of the Parliamentary members and situate these needs in the broader strategic role of the library.

This chapter outlines typical approaches to reducing the risk of ICT project failure through:

  1. preparing an over-arching Information Strategy for the Library
  2. development of a business case situated in the current needs of the Parliamentary library stakeholders
  3. evaluating software to be implemented in the context of the business case
  4. developing a managed implementation which stages the delivery of services in a sustainable manner through project management.

Developing the Information Strategy

An Information Strategy is one means of improving the analysis of the current information needs of the Members, their staff. Chapter Six outlines techniques to review these information needs. The priority for selection of new systems for use in the library should be defined by an Information Strategy. An Information Strategy should then be formulated to provide an overall framework for the capture, management and delivery of information that meets the client needs. As such the Information Strategy embraces the staff and the ICT resources needed in order to gather, manage and deliver information in a consistent manner. A typical Parliamentary Library Information Strategy will include broad gaols of:

  • Making information more accessible
  • Improving the availability and effectiveness of information
  • Reducing the cost and effort of managing and using information
  • Encouraging the development of information skills so that members of the Parliamentary Library can effectively access information resources to meet their needs
  • Improving the quality and reliability of information delivered
  • Ensuring that the Parliamentary Library has information processes to meet with requirements to preserve the collective memory of the Parliament
  • Having systems that fulfill relevant national and international Library standards.

The Information Strategy will help define priorities for the systems that are needed to meet the information needs. For example, in a high-circulation library where the priority of the members is access to the resources in the library, implementation of an improved Library Management System may the first step in implementing the Information Strategy. For a library with the most pressing need is provision of current news and guidance the improvement of the ICT support for reference services may be the first priority.

Making a business case

The development of a business case for introducing new systems and services is not only about achieving organisation commitment to funding, it is also about developing an understanding of the purpose and extent of the project. The intelligence gathered in identifying the information needs and an Information Strategy framed around these needs will support the development of an appropriate business case.

ICT projects tend to be most successful where they are accompanied by a methodical process for project management. Prince2, for instance, is a product-focused project management technique for the oversight of major projects that focuses on a product-based planning approach and the organisation of projects into manageable and controllable stages to minimise risk. Methodologies such as Prince2 require development of a Project Initiation Document (PID) that defines the outcomes, resources, constraints, and risks associated with the project . Understanding your current systems and measuring your capacity for new systems is a first step in this assessment. Even if new systems are highly functional, it may be important to assess whether all elements of a system are adopted at once or whether adoption is staggered over time.

Evaluating software

Irrespective of whether software is commercial or open source, the implementation of systems to meet the needs of the libraries is attended by stages of data conversion, training and workflow adjustment that need to be carefully planned. Organisations such as the United Nations have played a key part in enhancing the ICT capabilities of libraries. Where selecting software a formal process of evaluation should be considered. This may be through formal tender processes, or informal internal evaluation. Either way, it is important to understand your requirements and situate these requirements firmly in a business case to ensure the the new systems deliver their benefits.

Evaluating software through tender

The risk of software projects can be reduced through a systematic approach to adoption that includes:

  • Developing from the business case a set of requirements
  • Evaluating the current information model and data conversion/transition requirements. Vendors will need this information in order to be able to estimate the conversion and data migration costs of the project.
  • Preliminary research to evaluation the availability of software that may fit these requirements
  • Preparation of a Request for Information or Request for Tender
  • Publishing the Request either to a limited set of probably candidates or more widely. This may include evaluation of solutions that can be developed or implemented internally. This could include open source solutions where the parliamentary library has suitable technical support for management and supply.
  • Selection of a limited set of candidates for detailed evaluation against the requirements. Evaluating software can be a time-consuming process, so a short-listed candidate list should include the minimum practical number that can be evaluated with the resources the parliamentary library has available
  • Review of vendor presentations (including internal proposals)
  • Negotiation of an implementation plan with the chosen internal or external supplier, including Service Level Agreements.

Where a formal tender process is required, a request for proposal might typically have:

  • An explanation of the evaluation process and time-lines for response
  • An overview of the operation of the Parliamentary Library
  • Current systems and data model
  • Motivation for change and requirements for the new system
  • Your information architecture (standards, platforms, metadata framework)
  • Your expected project plan for delivery (estimated time-lines)
  • Requirements for training
  • Requirements for data migration

Vendors should be required to identify costs (fixed and variable) as well as risks associated with their system.

A more constrained Request for Information might also be sent out to selected vendors after a survey of software options. Software solutions are never “free”. Whether open source, commercial or free for use, sustaining solutions over time have attendant system operational and professional development, as well as the associated development of workflow processes to situate software in the context of a particular Parliamentary Library.

Non-tender software evaluation

The Parliamentary library may not be subject to formal tendering processes. Organisations such as UNESCO and the UN can kick-start the implementation of library services by providing guidance and assistance in software implementation. It is still important to evaluate the ways in which implementing such systems will fit your particular library. When a formal tender process is not required, an internal review of software that has been selected should be undertaken that reflects on the capabilities of the selected system against the current requirements.

Software may be available to the library at no charge, or with no license cost (such as Open Source). However good the software, the implementation of this system may fail if it fails to meet the current needs of the clients of the library. For this reason, it remains important to evaluate the software systematically and guide the project implementation in a manner that is focused on your own library requirements. The business case for the software should not be neglected and an internal evaluation process should also be undertaken to avoid the potential problems in project implementation. If the project implementation is not understood in the context of an internal business case that reflects on the long term relevance and sustainability of this service in the library the implementation of these systems may not yield the hoped-for benefits for Parliamentary clients.

In evaluating the implementation approach an internal evaluation should at least look at:

  • The current systems and data model
  • Motivation for change and requirements for the new system
  • Your information architecture (standards, platforms, metadata framework)
  • Your expected project plan for delivery (estimated time-lines)
  • Requirements for training
  • Requirements for data migration

ICT project management

There are well defined approaches to ICT implementation that are designed to reduce the risk of project implementation. Most project management approaches divide a project into phases of:

  • Project initiation
    1. Developing the business case
    2. Defining project governance and executive sponsorship
    3. Define the project goals and expectation
    4. Defining project risks
    5. Dividing the project into realistic delivery stages
    6. Establish the reporting processes for the project
    7. Establish a methodology for change control and issue resolution
    8. Formulating teams to be responsible for project delivery stages
  • Project management
    1. Break down the project in to definable stages
    2. Allocate resources for each stage
    3. Define a project plan for delivery of each stage
    4. Define targets for each project stage
    5. Escalate issues and change requests through the governance framework
  • Stage review
    1. Review each project stage on completion for feedback into the next stage
    2. Review each project stage when target dates for deliverables are not met
  • Project completion review
    1. Assess project outcomes and follow-up work
    2. Assess lessons learned

For larger projects, a Project Steering Committee should be established. Not all projects require such a Project Steering Committee – it will depend on the cost, complexity and duration of the ICT project. A typical Steering Committee might comprise :

  • A business owner– an ICT, Library or Parliamentary owner of the project who has ultimate responsibility for the benefits and outcomes of the project,
  • Major stakeholder representatives - representing the major areas positively affected by the project,
  • Major supplier/vendor representatives who are participating in the project delivery,
  • Other subject specialists as required to bring specific knowledge and skills.

The Steering Committee should be kept to the smallest practical size that allows regular, brief, review of the project governance and progress.

An example of a formal methodology for project management developed for medium to large projects is the PRINCE2 project management methodology. Further information on this project management framework can be found at ( a portal site with information resources on Prince2.

ICT service delivery

Information Systems are dynamic and require ongoing monitoring and support. Whether managed externally or internally, a service-oriented view of this management is typically the most effective method for archiving the best practical outcome for ongoing system operation. One of the most comprehensive standards for ongoing service management is the Information Technology Infrastructure Library (ITIL), a set of principles and standard for service operation that break down ongoing service management into:

  • Service support
    1. Service desk management and principles around management of a service desk
    2. Incident management - tracking and resolving issues
    3. Problem management - resolving ongoing issues into an overall strategy for ICT delivery
    4. Change management - ensuring changes are communicated, discussed and agreed
    5. Release management - ensuring system changes are implemented in a coordinated manger that minimises impact
  • Service delivery
    1. Service Level Management - statements of expectation for service delivery by internal and external vendors
    2. Capacity Management
    3. IT Service Continuity Management
    4. Availability Management
    5. Financial Management

With the increasing number of external providers that a library relies on, the Service Level Agreement becomes an important means of defining the responsibilities of service providers. A Service Level Agreement can define:

  • performance of the applications provided (for example minimum page response times for the library management system when hosted externally)
  • levels of technical support and support response times
  • maximum recovery times in case of disaster and the client or provider
  • data backup and retention policies
  • privacy policies

Similar (less detailed) agreements can be useful with internal ICT departments to define quality and consistency in service delivery.

Methods for service delivery

Service delivery of systems will be in the context of the broader architecture supported by the ICT. Selection of systems to support the library need to be conscious of this framework. The library can draw on a variety of service architectures including:

  • Hosted or “cloud” solutions where a provider delivers the entire application on their infrastructure and provides all associated software, hardware and technical support. Service delivery is usually web based. This handbook gives many examples of solutions that are offered in this way. Open source software is available from many providers on a hosted basis. A Service Level Agreement (SLA) can define ownership of data, privacy restrictions and levels of service and support.
  • Virutalised servers Virtualisation technology allows a single large computer server to be subdivided into multiple different “virtual” servers. VMWare is the most popular example of this, but Oracle, Microsoft and Linux have Virtualisation capabilities also (XEN is an open source Virtualisation server). Virtualisation can allow your ICT area to support a range of platforms using a single hardware platforms. Some software applications come “out of the box” in a virtual server platform, so no software installation is required. Of course, software support is still required.
  • Web 2.0 service solutions Many powerful search and office productivity tools are available on the web free of charge or on a fee-basis, as illustrated in the previous chapters. There may be no individual Service Level Agreement offered, so careful inspection of the standard privacy and terms and conditions of these services is important.

Libraries, where sufficiently resourced, can also take advantage of the many Web 2.0 productivity tools to develop mash-up solutions that leverage a mixture of internal systems and the above approaches to unify different systems in a single internal view for the benefit of clients.

Privacy and Data Security

In order to realise the tremendous benefits of services delivered over the Internet, end-users are required to entrust a growing number of service providers with more and more personal information. This information often deals with aspects of people's lives which are regarded as personal and private and may include information about their identity, physical location, contact details, among other things.

The loss of personal data by a service provider may result in an interruption to the service and a degree of inconvenience to the consumer, but unauthorised access to and misuse of personal information can have longer-lasting consequences. The possession of personal information can, in some circumstances, be exploited by unethical marketers, or by criminals for fraudulent purposes. As a result the theft, selling and buying of personal data has become a issue that must be treated seriously by service providers and consumers alike.

The privacy and security of personal data entrusted to any service provider must be safeguarded from loss and misuse by the service provider. Privacy requirements form an important part of the Service Level Agreement with any software and hosting providers.

Most people would be aware that networked applications, unless properly managed, are vulnerable to intrusion by computer hackers. However, experience also shows that abuse of authority and trust by staff with access to computer systems is as much a problem as external intrusion. While most staff are trustworthy and careful, the concentration of personal information within a single repository provides the potential for one incident to have a large effect.

The rich capabilities of Web 2.0 applications come with attendant privacy risks. When the library is building mash-up-style applications or architecting solutions that use a mix of internal client data as well as external services the library staff should be aware of some basic tenets of privacy around the design of information capture and usage policies for personal data:

  • Only minimal personal data should be gathered, and strictly for the purpose of the intended purpose (for example interlibrary loans)
  • Only the minimum information should be collected from clients to achieve the task required
  • Clients should have the ability to access, verify and modify any information in their profile
  • Access to the client functions does not confer access to the administration functions for the application

Responsibilities of library staff in ICT service delivery

The Parliamentary Library should take measures that include education of staff to their need to protect privacy, virtual and physical security measures, backup processes, robust server and network design and auditing of access to the systems which they manage. Nightly backups of data on systems should be encrypted and retained only long as necessary to ensure business continuity in the event of system failure.

Staff employment terms should include privacy and non-disclosure conditions and employees should be given access to systems for which they have responsibility to the level required to undertake their tasks.

The library has a responsibility to indicate the usage of any personal data managed, and should communicate these policies to any hosting agencies or departments managing their data. A basic requirement should be that service providers not sell, rent, share or otherwise communicate the parliamentary libraries client data, unless in a manner required by the library.

In this context it is important to establish structures, processes and procedures to mitigate risks that may arise from within their domain of concern. The following areas need to be considered:

  • Accountability of staff
  • Education of staff
  • Oversight of activities
  • Careful handling of information
  • Monitoring of threats

Employees should be required to be familiar with the Security Policy and terms of use for Internet resources. It is important for the library to define and promulgate a terms of use for Internet use by library staff. Such terms of use do not have to be about restriction of information flow, or research. They should however be directed to appropriate use of Internet access that is directed to fulfilling the demands of their role as information professionals.

The library or ICT services of the Parliament should also define and publish Terms of Use regarding Internet access and use of library services and terminals available to library clients.

Risk Assessment

The library should undertake a risk assessment associated with its systems, and resources and assess processes to mitigate that risk. A simple example follows:

System eventRiskMitigation
Misuse of data
by employees
Breach of privacy policy Employee policy security communicated to all employees
Virus infectionSystem outage & data loss or breach of privacy
Anti-virus installed on all systems
No file shares on servers where not functionally required;
Patch update policy on all systems
Hard disk failureLoss of data due to hardware failure Mirroring of all system and data disks
Nightly backups of all data
Weekly system mirroring of critical systems
Hardware failure
Loss of data due to hardware failure, client & office outage Mirroring of all system and data disks
Nightly backups of all data; Weekly system mirroring of critical systems
External Network failureLoss of data due to hardware failure Mirroring of all system and data disks
Nightly backups of all data
Weekly system mirroring of critical systems
Fail-over arrangements with servers available in the office (e.g. Linux to Linux or Windows to Windows)
Power loss - serverServer outage and loss of data Redundant power supplies on all servers & fault alerting
Power loss - officeClient access outageHot standby servers in DRP Sites located on different network and power service
Hardware failure - internal hubsOffice & external service outageHot standby hubs
Network outage - primary data linkOffice & external service outageMaintain a separate high-bandwidth link to the office
Hot standby servers in DRP Sites located on different network and power service
FireOffice & systems outageTechnical contacts for hardware and asset recovery. Exit and assembly plans for staff
FloodingOffice & systems outageTechnical contacts for hardware and asset recovery (for instance freeze drying for books)
EarthquakeOffice & systems outage Exit and assembly plans for staff

The level of protection undertaken against each risk depends on the expected impact of an outage on clients and the consequent degree of disaster production redundancy that is engineered into your architecture. Fully redundant live standby servers are possible but can be very expensive to maintain. They are typically warranted where the outage interval in case of a disaster event for clients must be kept to seconds or minutes. A minimum disaster recovery profile should see off-site backup of data and well documented (and tested) steps for recovery of this data.

For each risk event associated Disaster Recovery Plan steps should be in place which defines the contacts, processes and actions during and after the disaster event. It is also important to document the last successful test of this disaster plan.

In locations where power supply is irregular, risk mitigation might include arrangements for mirroring services with other agencies (for example ensuring catalogue holdings are available through WorldCat).

Staff Training

Training of library staff is an essential component of ICT capability building. Training needs to be timely - too much in and advance of systems delivery or too much in arrears can leave staff struggling when they are called on to provide support for systems with which they are not familiar or comfortable. This training needs to be framed around the road map for library service delivery. For this reason a training needs analysis framed around the library services road map should be periodically reviewed. This needs analysis can also be used to identify areas of staff development, especially for those library staff tasked with forward-facing service delivery.

With the transition to an increasing web-based focus on information delivery, there are a number of approaches to web-based self education on the Web 2.0 mix of tools and services. One of the most popular is the “23 things” programme that takes the learner through a Web 2.0 journey relevant to librarians (

ICT training for members

A responsibility for many libraries is that of training. The sheer diversity of resources available through the library itself and on the web can be daunting. The Parliamentary library often provides induction training for newly elected parliamentary members and their staff in using library resources. This can be extended to include training in ICT-related areas such as the use of Web 2.0 resources, use of e-book readers and use of the information resources in the library itself.

Such training can also be the opportunity to brief researchers on the constraints of copyright and the risks associated with plagiarism. It can also be an opportunity to undertake before and after surveys on the library to assess level of understanding and usage of library resources and assess over time what information resources the members are looking for.


There are emerging standards for Information Technology service management which give guidance on best practice in sustainable service delivery. These principles define methodologies for service delivery and business continuity using Information Communications Technology.


Chapter 3: Core Library Services


This chapter presents the core services that underpin most Parliamentary Libraries. Core services are those that can be considered central to the typical fulfillment of the mission of the Parliamentary Library. Information and Communications Technology (ICT) forms the foundation of most modern libraries. Starting with automation functions for cataloging and circulation, the range of tools that the library can draw in has grown progressively over the last four decades. Since the 1990's libraries have had available mature and robust integrated solutions that manage all aspects of traditional library functions: acquisitions, cataloguing, circulation, serials management and reporting. Electronic journals and books, rich database services and expansion of multi-lingual capabilities of software platforms have opened up the range of options that a library has. By 2000 the first examples of open source software for libraries were emerging in parallel with the rapid expansion of the Internet as the main vehicle for information communication. In parallel with the emergence of open source has been the gradual expansion of Digital Libraries and Open Access services.

The Parliamentary Library may therefore have oversight of considerably more than the management of a physical collection of resources. Core services provided by the library have an significant ICT element, including the library management system, the ICT services supporting the reference desk (including Document Delivery) and website content management. Typical benefits of ICT for the Parliamentary Library include:

  1. Collection building, including management of the physical and digital resources provided by the library. ICT can manage the collection acquisition, indexing, discovery and circulation of the resources. This chapter discusses the role of the Integrated Library Management System in this area.
  2. Reference and Research services. ICT can give staff access to a wide range of online resources to communicate with library staff and access library resources. ICT can also support the delivery and publishing of research results and dissemination of news and information feeds.
  3. Resource sharing. ICT systems can support the delivery of resources through interlibrary loans that are not included in the current library collection.
  4. Resource discovery. ICT services provided through Intranets and Web 2.0 presence can facilitate direct access to library resources by clients. Federated Search software can aggregate all library resources into a single search framework. Single sign-on can reduce the complexity of accessing multiple resources.

The Parliamentary Library should develop a roadmap for ICT development of the library that harnesses the new technologies available while maintaining a stable and robust services to the members of Parliament and their staff. This section of the handbook summarises the ICT solutions, standards and workflow processes that are core to the services provided by most libraries. Undertaking major ICT projects can have considerable project risk. The development of a roadmap needs to be situated in the capabilities, resources and constraints of each institution and should be focused on those areas of priority that most meet the needs of the Parliament. The roadmap for development core ICT services supporting the library should be undertaken in a systematic manner that minimises the ICT project risk. There are well established principles for ICT project management that are relevant to the planning for implementation of the systems discussed in this chapter. This chapter illustrates the workflows that typify library management, reference services, document delivery and web content management. These principles apply whether selecting open source or commercial software to meet the needs of the library.

Parliamentary libraries that are upgrading their current systems or exploring new services can take advantage of a generational advance in the core systems used by libraries. Library Management systems, Digital Library systems, Document Delivery systems and research services have all been transformed by web-based delivery of services. Understanding the information needs and information seeking behavior of members and their assistants, parliamentary committees and other stakeholders is important in this context. This section outlines core services that are enablers of information delivery in the Parliamentary Library. The selection of these systems should be framed in an understanding of the role of the Parliamentary Library that is centred on the parliamentary needs as discussed in the previous chapter.

Integrated Library Management Systems (ILMS)

One of the core roles of the library is to provide efficient access to the assets and resources of the library for elected members, their staff and clients. The traditional card catalogue is typically being replaced by ICT-based electronic catalogs, often made available on the Internet as an Online Public Access Catalogue (OPAC). The cataloguing of the resources that appear on the electronic catalogue can be achieved through a standalone system or through an integrated approach which ties together the whole life cycle of management library assets, from acquisition to disposal: the Integrated Library Management System (ILMS). Most Integrated Library Management Systems will at least support a budget-based acquisitions module, cataloguing and authority support, online catalogue access, serials and subscription management, and of course circulation. This traditional set of functions can be significantly extended where the system also supports Web 2.0 capabilities (such as tagging and book reviews) and client self management (self-renewal). Finally, these features may be further extended with RFID for asset tracking and self-checkout.

The ILMS can facilitate the management of resources at all stages of:

  • Purchase suggestion management (possibly integrated with Acquisitions)
  • Acquisitions - Purchase Orders (possibly with Electronic Data Interchange), tracking of orders, Receiving of orders, tracking of orders against funds/budgets)
  • Integration of acquisitions with the Cataloguing process
  • Cataloguing (and copy-cataloguing using Z39.50 or MARC import of catalogue records)
  • Presentation and searching through the electronic catalogue and/or OPAC
  • Serials management (for print subscriptions)
  • Preparation for circulation: Barcode and allocation of shelf location or storage location
  • Selective dissemination and communication of items held (for example new items lists) through web and syndication methodologies
  • Reservation of items and reservation workflow (request, retrieval, inter-branch transfer and fulfillment)
  • Circulation (loans, loan overdue alerts, returns, fines and fines management)
  • Reporting
  • Resource management (stocktaking, reporting)
  • Support for RFID (where applicable).

The ILMS is therefore central to the management of library resources. Typically the focus of ILMS is on the management of physical assets (books, journals and other print publications). However, many ILMS come with a good, integrated search engine and this can play a role in discovering digital resources owned by the library (see for instance the NSW Parliamentary Library case study below) Effective ILMS software can yield great efficiencies in service delivery and day-to-day operation of the library. With the advent of Web 2.0 library systems could be categorised as “generation one” and “generation two” - those services which are web-enabled, online and web-2.0 capable versus the in-house desktop-based cataloguing system. WinIsys, which is supported by the US and has played an important role in extending library capabilities, is an example of a “generation one” system. A generational “leap” in functions is possible by adopting library management systems that have made this generation migration to fully web-enabled operation.

ILMS workflows

Integrated Library Management Systems also tend to have an embedded workflow for common tasks such as circulation. For example, a the Koha system allows the library to define the workflow rules for holds/reservations and circulation management.

The common workflow tasks supported by the ILMS are:

Holds and reservation workflows. The workflow stages for holds/reservation management can include rules about who can make reservations on items and on what types of items. A hold might generate an alert to the library regarding the library. The library may then fetch the item and the completion of this task may entail an inter-branch transfer (or even inter-library loan). The next stage of this workflow may trigger an alert (e.g. SMS or email) to the client advising of the item availability. The complexity behind these tasks is managed by the software itself.

Circulation workflows. Typical circulation workflows are checkout, and check-in, but with an Integrated Library Management System may also entail processes for online renewal, automatic pre-due and over-due notices, fines management and inter-library loans tracking.

Cataloguing workflows. An integrated approach to the library management system can allow the acquisitions process to flow through to cataloguing. Cataloguing and classification may potentially be outsourced. Once cataloged, the process of preparation of resources for use by library patrons may entail stages of cataloguing-in-process workflow steps. Finalisation of cataloguing may automatically flow through to RSS feeds of new items alerts, and online web-based promotion of new items.

Metadata enhancement workflows. Where the ILMS is indexing a variety of digital resources, workflows can support the metadata of enhancement of these items. For instance, digital documents that are added to a Parliamentary Digital Library might be subject indexed in the ILMS. Workflow processes can facilitate the capture of the digital documents in the Digital Library and indexing of the document in the ILMS.

Extending the ILMS with Web 2.0

Web 2.0, including social networking, provides a vehicle for the integration of multiple services to provide a framework for highly personalised and functional access to resources (see the Web 2.0 section of this handbook). The ILMS can be further extended to include Web 2.0 functions in a manner that recognises the interactive nature of Web 2.0 participation in information systems. Web 2.0 functions in the ILMS are commonly called “Library 2.0” functions, and can include:

  • Tagging, or the ability for clients to add their own identifiers (‘tags’) which are visible to others on your catalogue
  • Reviews, or the ability for your clients to annotate entries in your catalogue with their own comments
  • Mash-ups – or making your catalogue available through web services to allow your clients to create their own views of your resources.

These aspects are discussed further in the chapter on Web 2.0 and social networking.

Mobile devices - extending the reach of the library

Mobile devices such as smart phones (for example the Apple iPhone) and tablet devices (such as the Samsung Galaxy and the iPad) provide an increasingly popular platform for access to web-enabled applications. For Parliamentarians and their staff, they are increasingly a point of access to library research and electronic resources. Mobile devices have outpaced computers in sheer numbers, in both the developing and the developed world. As a point of information access, they can present a means for information delivery that bypasses other infrastructural issues of fixed networks. Library clients are voting with their electronic “fingers” in demanding information access on their mobile devices, and it is important for Parliamentary libraries to assess and monitor the ways in which they many need to adapt their information delivery to these new platforms. This assessment can include:

  • The capability of current systems for effective use in the constrained screen space of mobile devices
  • The ability to deliver full text content to these devices. For instance, PDF's may be difficult to read on some mobile devices.
  • The security and authentication constraints to achieve this while maintaining the integrity of library services.

Web pages and full text resources can be adapted to present better in a mobile context, sometimes with quite simple adjustments to the style sheets used for web pages. Content management strategies for the library should also take into account mobile devices.

Enabling access through mobile devices can extend the reach of the library and accessibility of the collection and research services, and may be as important as a presence in web 2.0 environments.


RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is a smart tag which replaces barcodes in books, client membership cards and other devices. When an RFID tag is included in an item, it can be checked out simply by placing the item near an a reading mat. The chip in the RFID tag can be programmed with information and can also act as a security device. It is commonly used by libraries for self-checkout and has had considerably take-up in Public libraries where circulations rates are relatively high but collection sizes are small. It has relevance to both records management and library asset management. The annual RFID survey by Mick Fortune ( indicates that self-service is a key justification for RFID, followed by cost reduction, with less focus on security and resource sharing (Inter-Library Loans). This is possibly because the High Frequency (HF) tags currently used for RFID implementations in libraries have a limited scanner range and therefore have limited suitability for bulk stocktaking and stock management functions.

RFID is most useful for libraries with high levels of circulation or where self checkout is important. The relevance of RFID to the Parliamentary Library will therefore depend on the level and type of circulation of the library resources. Self-checkout using RFID can provide benefits by enabling access to library resources at times when the library is unattended. Self-checkout also has benefits for libraries that have high lending rates.


Cataloguing & Metadata
  • AACR2 – Anglo American Cataloguing Rules 2: an influential standard internationally that is the basis for many other standards.
  • MARC – Machine Readable Cataloguing: a standard method for interchange of bibliographic data – note MARC21, UNIMARC and MARCXML.


  • DDC – Dewey Decimal Classification: created in the 19th century by one man to classify all human knowledge, the DDC is currently owned by OCLC, and is probably the most popular classification system internationally.
  • LCC – Library of Congress Classification: created shortly after the DDC, Library of Congress takes a more complex approach to classification. It was originally designed to describe the books in the Library of Congress, not all of human knowledge, so it tends to focus on the United States.
  • CLC - Chinese Library Classification : beginning in the 1970s, the CLC is used in most information institutions in the People's Republic of China.

Library registries


  • ISO 28560 - A proposed ISO standard for data present on RFID tags.


Open Source


Tools for the Systems Librarian

There are also a range of tools that facilitate the day-to-day role of the system librarian for data conversion, querying databases.

Case Study

NSW Parliament experience integrating Koha and DSpace

When the Parliamentary Library of New South Wales began using Koha as its Library Management system and DSpace as its digital repository, the staff didn't do so to make a political statement about the viability of open source software. “This was just the software that fulfilled our requirements,” said Deborah Brown, Parliament’s chief librarian.

While having a physical collection, NSW Parliament library's lifeblood is digitized news media. Parliamentary libraries in Australia are granted a parliamentary copyright exemption for provision of news and media resources for the Parliament. On this basis they reproduce and store dozens of articles each day for the use of the Members of Parliament (and their staff) who make up their user base. When their MPs are sitting for parliamentary sessions many of them are far from their constituencies, so it’s essential to have a reliable source of news clippings from the regional papers covering their ridings. The library has a service that scans for mentions of all the Members' names in the regional papers, and digital fulltext versions of those articles are stored in DSpace to ensure their accessibility so the Members can keep up to date with policy development research.

The news articles are received in digital form from a news provider and are imported through an automated process into the Digital Library. However, the metadata is extended by a library staff-member who reviews the seven metropolitan newspapers with subject headings specifically relevant to members. These articles are digitally clipped and catalogued and put into the repository, as are the various Media Releases put out by parliamentarians (the NSW Parliamentary library is the state’s only centralized collection of those electronic Media Releases).

To handle these requirements (as well as their physical collection) the library has been using a digital repository combined with library management software since 1997, but 2010 saw their shift to Koha and DSpace. The division of tasks, which is maintained in their current open source implementation, has Koha storing the detailed metadata in bibliographic records, while DSpace stores digital entities themselves with “just enough metadata to get by.” When an item is loaded into DSpace it also gets loaded into Koha for detailed cataloguing, and electronic documents can be loaded into DSpace through Koha. DSpace is used as a repository while Koha is used as the principle search engine.

Integrating the two approaches took approximately 6 months for the conversion. News clippings can be imported, get indexed, and have authorized subject headings applied in 2-3 hours each day. Most articles are loaded using an automated process customised for the library which creates the DSpace and Koha initial entries. Some subject headings are automatically generated from the externally provided electronic clippings files. DSpace and Koha workflows are used t add the additional subject heading work as part of the standard workflow. Subject cataloguing is enhanced through the use of auto fill-as-you-type subject cataloguing forms.

Case study prepared by Justin Unrau (Prosentient Systems) with feedback from Deborah Brown and Chris Burns from the Parliamentary Library of NSW, Australia.

For further information or queries, contact Deborah Brown at

Electronic Resources and Digital Libraries

This section explores the role of electronic resources in collection building, and the use of tools such as federated search and single sign-on to hide the complexity of access to disparate underlying resources. It examines the growing importance of digital resources within the Parliamentary library collection. The increasing presence of digital resources entails growing complexity in the resources management by the library, including subscriptions, digital libraries/collections, digital news feeds, and digitisation of resources owned by the Parliament. This additional complexity can lead to requirements for a Federated search capability (integrating into a single portal the major information resources) and workflow management systems (to management the complex processes in electronic collection development) and single sign-on (to hide the complexity of access to multiple underlying database resources).

The Parliamentary Library will need to manage an increasingly divers range of electronic resources, including:

  1. online electronic databases services - external provides with search services and possibly full text
  2. digital libraries - providing a facility for managing digital documents created by the library (either born-digital or converted to digital form)
  3. syndication feeds - information feeds providing current information resources based in information preferences (for instance news feeds)
  4. electronic subscriptions - including e-books and e-journals.

The increasing access to digital resources entails growing complexity in the resources management by the library, including digital libraries/collections, digital news feeds, digitisation of Parliamentary resources. This additional complexity can lead to requirements for a Federated search capability (integrating into a single portal the major information resources) and workflow management systems (to management the complex processes in electronic collection development) and single sign-on(to hide the complexity of access to multiple underlying database resources). The rapidity of technological development brings long-term difficulties in the management of intellectual and creative output in digital form. Libraries and museums have a key role in the preservation of analytical and creative endeavors over the long term. However, most libraries are ill equipped to undertake research into the preservation of new media artefact's and creations. Where the preservation of printed works is well understood, issues of obsolescence of new media technologies affect all aspects of the new media artefact's. As each new technological innovation introduces new methods of creative content delivery, our long-term horizons of archive planning appear to reduce. The widespread adoption of Information Technology as an integral part of the research process, and the speciation of software vehicles for content creation, mean that on the basis both of cost and volume of content creation the meager budgets of most libraries simple are not sufficient to sustain the role of comprehensive collection builders. Digital Library collection building has associated with it inherent risks of technological obsolescence. In addition to the systematic risks associated to critical information technology architecture, are the problems of software and hardware obsolescence. Issues of obsolescence are not inherent obstacles to the move to management of electronic resources – but they are issues that need to be addressed by the institution in the management of the disparate resources that constitute an electronic collection. Information systems inevitably go through a continuous series of transformations over time, as do digital objects stored in an information system.

Where the Parliamentary Library is responsible for the management of assets created by the Parliament, the systematic management of these assets through the workflow and Digital Library systems is an important role for the library.

Electronic collection development

The resources involved in electronic collections are complex. They can include image libraries, subscriptions to digital news feeds, subscriptions to database services, e-books (electronic books), and internally created digital documents. Because of this complexity, a systematic digital collection development policy is recommended. This will help to effectively integrate the disparate digital resources into a unified view. Typically your intranet or web site will be the portal by which clients can discover these resources. The searching of resources may be further unified through a federated search approach.

The collection development process should entail a review of electronic collection requirements based on the information needs of members and staff. For Parliamentary Libraries, the typical focus of end user requirement is for access to Parliamentary archives, news and current affairs feeds and current awareness bulletins, dissemination of press releases and other member information, and access to born digital resources such as electronic books and e-journal resources. A survey of current and future requirements for electronic resource access will assist in categorising electronic collection requirements in two broad areas: Digital Library services (including digital archives) managed by the library, digital resources provided through subscription and document delivery. Library patrons can be informed about new material in both these areas through news and alerting services.

The library should undertake an asset audit to determine the needs/requirements for digitization for purposes of both access and preservation. On-demand digitization requirements to support reference services, document delivery and alerting services (e.g. full text disseminating of news items in relation to Parliament and its members) should also be reviewed. Both of these digitisation processes will feed through to the Digital Library which can preserve these entries as a permanent record.

Digital Library Systems

If the Parliamentary Library has responsibility for archives, then the need to build a effective document management or Digital Library system will be imperative. The library can use a Digital Library framework to improve access to current and historical information. Some parliaments, for instance, use digital libraries to store media releases by Members over time, and to store news stories related to members (refer to the NSW Parliament case study below). Finally, the Parliamentary library can play an important role in preserving the collective memory of the parliament, and the Digital Library can be used to support the digitisation of historical resources held by the library for purposes of historical preservation and ease of access. These archives can form an important information resources on the parliamentary website.

The selection of appropriate software for Digital Library management is a significant project for the library and will entail a software selection and implementation process similar to the implementation of other major core library services (refer to Evaluating Software in the second chapter). The selection process should begin with a requirements gathering process to determine the types of media and assets that the Parliamentary library will be responsible for. There are many solutions that can provide very effective management of full text and image documents. Management of video materials is more demanding - both in software and the data storage requirements. Broadly the classes of software that can address the requirements of storage and preservation of digital resources are:

  • File system management and indexing tools
  • Document Management Systems
  • Digital Asset Management or Media management systems (for management of multimedia objects such as audio and video, and managing streaming services)
  • Digital Library systems

File systems approaches to the Digital Library

Useful documents of historical value may already be in digital form and can be managed by the library. Many Digital Library systems grow from a simple file-system approach to collecting digital documents relevant to the members - with the library being the logical repository for these documents. While the collection of documents remains relatively small, this approach can be quite effective. The ILMS catalogue can potentially be used to collect metadata relating to these documents and provide searching for the documents held on the file store.

As the collection of digital document grows, such an approach will become unmanageable. The file system folders must be maintained and preserved and there is the risk that documents are removed from the file system without reference to the associated metadata. The library catalogue, being mainly focused on descriptive and subject cataloguing, does not always have sufficient metadata for ongoing records management of archival electronic resources.

Document Management Systems

The Document Management System (such as Microsoft's Sharepoint) can provide an intermediary approach to Digital Library management for a Parliamentary archive, where the focus is on managing largely internal-facing digital documents and where the focus is not on long term interoperability and data exchange. For the Parliamentary Library starting in this area, Digital Library software is the better choice where possible - but utilising an existing installed Document Management application such as Sharepoint may be the beginning of a Digital Library strategy.

Digital Asset Management

If the library is responsible for capturing, preparing and distributing large collections of images, audio or video, it may be necessary to consider the use of digital asset management solutions. This class of software is deployed by broadcasting and media organisations to manage the workflow around ingestion, preparation, metadata annotation and retrieval of non-text digital assets. This not typically the choice for Parliamentary Libraries.

Digital Library systems

The Digital Library system is in many ways similar to the Document Management system, but extended to provide a public-facing web interface and an underlying archiving system. The Digital Library is therefore the typical choice for long term ongoing management of a digital archive for text-based digital resources (and often also for image libraries). Digital Library software typically has integrated capabilities for metadata exchange with current standards. Even where in the early stages of electronic collection development interoperability may appear to be of limited relevance, such metadata can be used in many different ways. Web 2.0-based services can use metadata to feed through to alerting systems.

Software for Digital Library systems is available commercially and in open source, and is robust and stable. Typical software choices are WinISYS CDS, DSpace, Greenstone and for larger libraries Fedora Commons.

Interoperability and metadata

Metadata is the information describing objects in the Digital Library. For instance, the item title, author, dimensions and format are all examples of metadata. Metadata serves three purposes in the Digital Library:

Descriptive metadata - as with traditional cataloguing, digital objects need to be described and identified so that they can be discovered within the Digital Library. Digital Library metadata standards for describing objects serve the same role as AACR2 and MARC standards do for traditional catalogues. Examples of Descriptive metadata standards commonly used in Digital Libraries are Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI), Metadata Object Description Schema (MODS), and Metadata Encoding & Transmission Standard (METS). While DCMI is probably more widely used by Digital Libraries, MODS and METS provide a fuller descriptive framework as a successor to MARC. DSpace and Greenstone use DCMI as their descriptive metadata framework.

Semantic metadata - the semantic metadata provides the subject classification and relationship information for objects in the Digital Library. While this may be based on a traditional name/value pair of identifiers (subject = 'Parliamentary History'), the current trend is to move to Resource Description Framework (RDF). RDF underpins many projects that are realising the possibilities of the Semantic Web for purposes of stronger metadata description of documents on the web (and in archives). A semantic metadata description goes beyond the name/value descriptive pair to describe metadata in a series of “statements” in a subject, object and predicate statement (the title of the book is 'The history of Parliaments'). Central to the concept of RDF is the ability to unify concepts across many resources in a meaningful way. Fedora Commons implements RDF as its underlying schema.

Harvesting metadata - There are many Digital Library systems - commercial, open source and bespoke (home grown). Irrespective of the internal metadata approach for description and subject classification of the objects in the library, support for a harvesting metadata standard provides a means for inter-operability between Digital Library systems. The most widely implemented harvesting system is Open Archives Initiative Protocol for Metadata Harvesting (OAI/PMH). This scheme supports metadata “harvesting” between digital libraries to allow discovery of digital resources between systems. Kete uses OAI/PMH for its internal schema. DSpace, Greenstone, Fedora Commons and Kete support an OAI/PMH harvesting interface.

The long term inter-operability of your digital resources with other digital resources being developed in-country and regionally will be enhanced or impeded by the level and quality of the metadata you collect associated with your digital resources. The selection of a metadata framework should be undertaken with reference to existing projects nationally and regionally. It is worth approaching your National Library to discuss their metadata standards. It is also worth examining metadata standards being implemented regionally in other Parliamentary libraries.

Minimum metadata requirements

Parliamentary Libraries should ensure that the Digital Library system chosen uses one of DCMI, MODS, METS or RDF, and supports OAI/PMH for purposes of inter-operability.

Digital Library systems: Workflow, Ingestion/Digitization (including for parliamentary documents) & Digital preservation

Workflow management is also crucial to Digital Library operation. One of the challenges to institutional acceptance is the efficiency of the ingestion process. The more complex the workflow, the less likely the institutional buy-in on the system. The open design of of the Digital Library system in this area is important - focus on systems that have adaptable means for ingestion is important - for example to allow the addition of “plug-ins” adapted by institutions to suite their local preference for file uploads. DSpace for instance supports several paths for file uploads, including:

  • An integrated, highly structured and configurable web-based workflow system.
  • A batch-oriented file upload system for bulk ingestion.
  • Use of plug-ins or internally built workflows using API's (Application Programming Interfaces) such as (such as the SWORD interface in DSpace which allows direct submission of documents in Microsoft Word format).

Some Digital Library systems focus on the archival role: the long term preservation and management of the digital resource. Some systems focus on the presentational role: the facilitating the discovery of the digital resource. Large volume digitisation projects (such as Parliamentary Archives) may require a focus on strong workflow systems to simplify the ingestion process.

Your Digital Library system will change over time. These changes may entail institutional name changes, website redesigns or changes to the website platform. The print form of a book or a journal has the virtue of a static nature: the content is the same for all readers for a given publication. Distributed access is simple. Personalisation, on the other hand, dispenses with any degree of finality of information delivery: the content delivery may be different for each individual. Without a fixed point of reference in which content can be thought to have reached a “final” form – that is, which is essentially dynamic, the issues of attempting to preserve content in its final generated form become problematic. One way of supporting the portability of electronic resources through website and organisational changes is the use of Digital Object Identifiers (DOI). These generally entail the registration of objects through a central referencing agency that provides a proxy-based reference to the current web page/resource location. DSpace, for instance, includes full integration with the public DOI service (Corporation for National Research Initiatives 2010). It also incorporates functionality to host and manage your own DOI handle service.

Case Study

Inter-operability between the Czeck and Slovak Parliamentary Libraries

The award-winning common digital Parliamentary Library embracing the two parliaments of the Czeck and Slovak republics represents a valuable case study in the integration of digital resources.

This experience illustrates the rich benefits of building a Digital Library system focused that achieves key goals of:

  • preserving the collective memory of Parliaments
  • providing a rich resource for discovery of legislative and parliamentary publication
  • providing a preservation framework in case of natural and other disasters
  • providing quick access for Parliamentary members adn heir staff
  • giving a framework for interoperability between two Parliamentary Libraries.

The availability of off-the shelf Digital Library software makes interoperability between Digital Libraries a practical option for small-to-medium sized parliaments.

Eva Malackova and Karel Sosna published a paper at the annual IFLA congress in Korea, 2006 on the joint Czeck and Slovak Digital Parliamentary Library, available at


Digital Library Metadata

Metadata schema's for digital libraries are typically XML based.

  • MARCXML. MARCXML is a direct mapping of MARC tags to an XML schema. It therefore provides a rich, and deep, bibliographic framework. While good for data interchange it is a little more difficult than some standards for data transformation.
  • DCMI - Dublin Core Metadata Initiative: a flexible metadata standard with many flavours. It is the basis for many born-digital resources, and is providing a framework for new methods of resource description. DCMI is one of the possible successors to MARC for bibliographic description and data interchange. Dublic core provides a minimum set of metadata for a simple digital collection. Qualified Dublin Core (QDC) is an extension of Dublin Core with better capability for mapping to RDF. Dublin core is widely adopted in open source Digital Library systems (for instance, Greenstone and DSpace use DCMI for the underlying metadata but can present this information through “crosswalks” in other schemas).
  • MODS MODS - Metadata Object Description Schema - is a metadata schema developed by Library of Congress in 2002 for complex bibliographic description as a close successor to MARC, but better oriented to digital object description.
  • METS METS - Metadata Encoding & Transmission Standard) - is a metadata standard that provides a description framework suited to complex hierarchical object structures with associated usage rights
  • PREMIS Preservation Metadata Implementation Strategies (PREMIS) - Metadata Encoding & Transmission Standard) - is a metadata schema focused particularly on preservation. It is not typically implemented in smaller Digital Library systems. It is one of the most complete (and therefore complex) descriptive frameworks with an object oriented view of the objects broken down into metadata covering the objects, their intellectual entities (a particular expression such as book or web page), events associated with the object, agents associated with preservation or use, and rights statements regarding the object.
  • RDF - Resource Description Framework - RDF is a metadata descriptive framework emerging from the Semantic Web development oriented to complex description of metadata in the form of “statements”. In RDF the “subject” is a resource, the “predicate” a property of the resource and the “object” a given value - for example a specific PDF object “x” (Subject) has a subject (predicate) of value Science (object). Fedora commons Digital Library uses RDF as its metadata schema.
  • OAI/PMH- Open Archives Initiative / Protocol for Metadata Harvesting - is an important metadata schema for Digital Library inter-operability. Crosswalks - or XML schema transformations - are used to implement an OAI/MPH harvesting service for a Digital Library. Most Digital Library systems support OAI/PMH.

Digital libraries & archives

E-Resources and Digital Subscriptions

The diversity of electronic journals, books and resources presents a frustrating challenge for the library: that of discovery. Full text resources may be spread across internal digital archives, electronic databases, e-book subscription services and free online websites. The Parliamentary Library website can play an important role if facilitating the discovery of relevant resources in subject areas relevant to the parliament, and through training and awareness sessions - especially briefing sessions that the library may host for newly elected members and their staff. Where e-readers are used, this may encompass training in use of the readers.

E-Books, E-Journals and electronic consortia arrangements

The transition to electronic delivery of traditional print publications is well underway in many libraries. Library clients show a strong preference for electronic over print for research and information discovery. This has driven a rapid transition in collection development in many libraries to the management of electronic subscriptions to resources.

It is in the area of journal subscriptions where the transition to an electronic delivery is the most evident. Access to electronic resources to support reference and research services can be achieved by direct subscription with the relevant publisher. There are also a number of aggregate providers of electronic journal subscriptions. Finally, some publisher offer consortia arrangements that can be negotiated by groups of libraries or at the national level.

Major information vendors such as Proquest, Ovid, EBSCO, Lexis/Nexis provide aggregate and consortia based subscriptions that provide a single fee to access a database (usually Whit full text documents) across hundreds of journals. Collaborating with other libraries (for example other government libraries) in negotiating consortia access arrangements can reduce the individual cost for membership to such resources. Universities and government departments will often already have consortia arrangements in place. While consortia arrangements may reduce the cost of some e-resources, they need to be scrutinized to ensure the Parliamentary library gets a good selection of relevant publications. The information needs of Universities are often quite different from those of Parliamentarians.

In less-developed countries, there may be specific arrangements to provide access a considerably reduced prices to subscription databases. Parliamentary libraries in Asia, Africa and Europe may also be able to draw on assistance from ( in order to gain access to e-journals, e-books and open access resources at lower cost for developing countries.

As part of the licensing subscription the library should consider requirements for local archiving of the electronic journals subscription. Where publishers allow, it may be possible to store electronic journal articles in a local Digital Library (with appropriate restrictions for access). Such a local archive provides for long-term archival management of important digital subscriptions and may also provide a useful knowledge resource when integrated with other assets in the local Digital Library.

Supporting e-resource reading software or hardware may also be required: for instance e-book readers. The library may need to maintain and lend a collection of e-book/e-resource readers for the members or ensure that the standard operating environment available to Parliamentary members includes relevant software.

Key questions in the selection process for these services include:

  • How is access granted (and what access management is available from within the Parliamentary computing system and for those accessing remotely or externally.
  • What is the best price available with the best mix of electronic resources relevant to your library
  • Are schemes available to assist developing countries
  • Can you partner with other libraries/institutions to reduce to cost for subscription
  • Does the provider support single sign on.

Open Access Journal resources

The traditional model for publishing journals and books has been challenged by a new model for distribution: Open Access. Resources published through Open Access are free for the client accessing the resource (through the Internet). Publishing is usually funded by requiring the author to pay a fee when submitting an item for publication. Some institutions also maintain Open Access repositories for pre-publication copies of research work created by the institution. Finally, some journals that are released on a subscription basis make their publications free for access after an embargo period.

Many electronic journals are now available by Open Access. It can be beneficial to integrate the metadata related to these Open Access journals in the catalogue to facilitate awareness of and access to these online resources. There are now good online indexes of electronic Apen Access publications (refer to Resources below).

Electronic subscription workflows

E-journals and e-books have a quite distinctive workflow, quite distinct from the management of traditional print serials. This workflow entails processes for review and selection of electronic resources (that is, conscious collection building of the items in the electronic resource collection as a whole). The selection process can entail negotiating with several suppliers, as there may be considerably overlap of coverage between different subscription suppliers.

Typically the steps should at least include:

  1. Development of an e-resource collection building policy focused on subject categories relevant to the Parliamentary Library
  2. Researching the potential suppliers and what open access coverage is available for these resources
  3. Negotiation between different suppliers where content can be sourced from several different suppliers
  4. Ensuring that suppliers provide effective metadata against a standard usable by your library to facilitate integration with your catalogue and/or search engine: for instance, provision of MARC-format records or NewsML XML records associated with the records supplied.
  5. Where necessary updating e-book devices with full text content
  6. Processes to automatically load this data and where necessary catalogue or meta-data enhance the data
  7. Publishing resources through relevant traditional and web 2.0 distribution channels.
  8. Subscription tracking and renewal processes
  9. Periodic review processes to detect and address content overlaps between subscription provider (duplicate subscriptions are commonplace in aggregate and consortia subscriptions).

Where the library has subscriptions to content that needs to be retained for the long term, the library should negotiate with the publisher placing the articles in a local Digital Library, or should maintain a separate print subscription.

E-Book formats and devices

The emergent e-Book market has a range of formats for popular devices. The four most commonly used formats are text, Kindle (an Amazon publishing format), ePub (an Adobe format) and HTML. Kindle and ePub support a Digital Rights Management functions which can restrict the usage of the item. For instance, DRM can be used to simulate traditional book lending by limiting the number of times and duration and item can be checked out. Common readers include:

The Amazon Kindle. The Kindle is a dedicated e-book reader with a few additional functions (a simple web browser and RSS feed reader). The Kindle concept of “Whispersync” goes some way to express the limitations of DRM by enabling transition of e-books across many different platforms and devices while maintaining the readers position in the text. The Kindle provides free Internet access (in some countries) as an enticement to browsing and downloading fee-for-use e-books.

The Sony Reader. This reader can play audio books and view PDF and word documents.

The Apple iPad. Larger than the Sony and Kindle readers, the IPad is a multi-function tablet computer that supports PDF, EPub and other formats.

Android-based devices. Googles Android operating system has become a further popular platform for delivery of e-books across a range of tablet-style devices.

The laptop and desktiop. The traditional laptop and desktop remain ubiquitous and important devices for discovering and downloading or reading e-books.

Mobile phones and mobile computers. Mobile access to news, tweets and electronic resources as well as social networking sites has made the mobile platform an important entry point for many to electronic resources.

The Parliamentary Library may need to support a number of platforms to meet the needs of parliamentary researchers and staff.

Resources - provides low cost access to e-journal, e-book and open access resources for developing countries in Africa, Asia and Europe. They support a number of programmes in facilitating promote access to knowledge through licensing arrangements, open access infrastructure, copyright guidance and advocacy and promoting the adoption of open source. - Wiki Books - contains a large collection of books free for download. - Project Gutenburg has 36,000+ e-books for free download. A number of e-book formats are supported. - Google Books has full and partial contents of e-books, some for purchase, some free for access.|French e-books. - Gallica is a major project by Bibliotheque nationale de France, with French, English, Portuguese and Spanish interface with a broad collection of French books, manuscripts, maps, images periodicals and sound recordings. - Digital book index is an index of English language e-book titles. - Librostauro Spanish e-book index Many books has > 25,000 e-Books, across 36 languages DOAJ is a directory of Open Access Journals- a directory of more than 2000 scientific and open access journals across 111 countries and many languages. Registry of Open Access Repositories (ROAR) a directory of open access repositories. The directory has more than 1,500 repositories. Highlights the importance of inter-operability of online electronic resources. It is International in scope. Scirus is a specialized search engine form Elsevier focused on scientific research and researchers. It has has faceted searching that can filter on Digital Libraries.

Standards EPUB (Electronic Publication) is a free, open e-book standard promulgated by the International Data Publishing Forum Portable Data Format (PDF) is a widely used format for digital e-book distribution. It includes some capabilities for rights management. The specification is managed by Adobe but made available free of charge Text encoding initiative (TEI) - a markup standard for texts in the Humanities.

Alerting services and News feeds

Parliamentary members and their staff rely on access to current information on news and developments. Typically news feeds will be sourced by commercial news gathering agencies that provide selective dissemination of information relevant to organisations. For Parliaments this may include:

  • news items on or about parliamentary members,
  • press releases,
  • journal publications and parliamentary publications in their interest areas.

NewsML ( is the most commonly used XML interchange standard for disseminating the metadata associated with news items ( Selective dissemination agencies will typically provide the full text news content and associated NewsML metadata to subscribing agencies, sometimes with associated full text or PDF images of the articles.

The role of the Parliamentary Library can be to disseminate this information, and possibly also to aggregate this information in a Digital Library. Typically this process will entail:

  • receipt of data feeds for dissemination agents comprising NewsML metadata and the text or PDF versions of the articles,
  • workflow processes to ingest this information into a local Digital Library store - for instance of member press releases,
  • dissemination functions (through the intranet, extranet, website and RSS) to deliver this information to Parliamentary members and library clients.

Some content (such as news feeds) may be subject to licensing restrictions that limit the extent to which content is disseminated. In this context it may be necessary to limit access to the electronic repository or Digital Library in which this content resides. Many Digital Library systems provide the workflow processes for ingestion and selective access to digital content.

Alerting services, including push methods (routing lists, email) and pull methods (such as RSS) can provide targeted information delivery to Parliamentary Library clients. Routing lists are a standard process available in most ILMS to distribute print serials on a selective basis.

Google news ( is a free source for international news that allows regional and topical based news feeds.

News bulletins and feeds

The library should develop a communication strategy around the needs of Parliamentarians and their staff. Where the library undertakes significant research, this information can be communicated through e-news letters or Web 2.0 dissemination of information (see Chapter Five).


  • NewsML is the most commonly used XML interchange standard for disseminating the metadata associated with news items ( Selective dissemination agencies will typically provide the full text news content and associated NewsML metadata to subscribing agencies.
  • RSS RSS is a popular syndication format. Many web content management systems provide RSS capabilities to provide a syndication-based alerting service for clients when web pages or web resources change. It is an alternative way for the distribution of news feeds.
  • XML At the core of all syndication systems is XML, a standard for the Markup of text and data.

Case Study

Member communication

The Parliamentary Library in Australia provides independent research to members and the general public with detailed briefings on current issues before Parliament and affecting the nation. These briefings are published on the website and through news bulletins. The following is a sample of their e-news briefings.

Whats new e-newsletter from the Parliamentary Library of the Australian Federal Parliament

Further information:

Parliamentary libraries are actively engaged in activities that enhance democracy through engagement with digital services. The Legislative Yuan, Taiwan, China published an profile of their engagement with electronic services in their country report “The Role of Parliamentary Libraries in Enhancing Democracy in the Digital Age” for the 7th Biennial Conference of APLAP, 9-14 September, 2002 available at

(1)A Chinese E-paper for Library Clients

Our current information delivery service is a daily (in weekdays) electronic newspaper published by the Parliamentary Library and distributed to the public as well as library clients. Beginning on July 1, 2000, it had published five hundred twenty issues by August 8, 2002. Items in our e-paper include: (a) daily legislative news; (b) the latest laws; © legislative summaries; (d) a record of general policy questions (interpolations) to the government in the Legislative Yuan; (e) a parliamentary forum; (f) committee reports; and (g) a report from our international legislative awareness service.

(2)Multilingual Legislative Awareness

Our multilingual, international legislative awareness service, or Dispatch of Current Legislative Information, is a daily report service providing major international news and updates on the status of legislation around the world. Translated from reliable sources in eleven countries, this report provides a Chinese edition of news and other materials which originally appeared in the Chinese, English, Japanese, German, Spanish and Russian languages. It is one of our most rewarding and popular services.

(3)Library E-mail Distribution Service for Press Clippings

News and commentary about the parliament & legislators from sixteen local Chinese or English newspapers will be selected and filed electronically each day through an extension of the Legislative Yuan News System. These electronic press clippings on parliamentarians are automatically send out to each legislator’s individual e-mail box within the day.

(4)Information and Knowledge on Demand

The new system of our library automation project (or LA II) at the Parliamentary Library of the Legislative Yuan features an on-demand Internet information dissemination service on topics chosen by our clients. Users may easily select topics of interest and construct a research profile from our subject thesaurus. Then the LA II system will compile all the current website resources related to the chosen subjects and e-mail site references to users promptly. This subject access to websites is an individual subscription feature of our web library

(5)Subject-oriented Information Packages

The subject-oriented information package service of our web library draws on a well-organized and comprehensive online collection of web resources arranged by subject headings. 1 The service collates and stores links to previously prepared research materials under an online menu, and thus makes them available for use by everyone, whether as a direct reference or as background for further research.

Single sign-on

As the number of electronic resources managed by the library grows, so does the complexity of accessing these resources. Many subscription providers of electronic resources will have different sign-on methodologies to access their resources. In this context the library faces the challenge of providing simple access to underlying resources that are delivered in quite complex and different ways.

IP address authentication is offered by most providers. This entails providing access to the underlying electronic resource based on the Internet address(es) of your library. This allows your library clients to access these resources without sign-on, but only when used locally at the library. This approach requires no further authentication by the user. The solution has one principle weakness: remote users cannot access the service unless they gain access through a VPN (Virtual Private Network). This weakness is sometimes address by adding a further layer of software: the proxy server. The role of the proxy server is to locally authenticate users and then pass their web page requests through a local “proxy” service which fetches the web pages from the remote service on their behalf.

Another approach widely used by libraries is Single Sign-on. Users of your service authenticate only once (for instance through your library management system or through your intranet sign-on). This authentication automatically provides the necessary authentication to remote electronic databases. Two systems have gained acceptance in libraries:

  • Athens - a commercial single sign-on service that has a wide number of relationships with existing electronic database vendors
  • Shibboleth - an open source framework for developing your own single sign-on service.

The choice of service depends a great deal on your current infrastructure and capabilities. While Shibboleth is gaining acceptance it requires local development and integration work to enable. Athens authentication is often already integrated in existing library applications.

In addition to the ILMS catalogue, the library may have access to several Online databases of electronic full text content (such as journal subscriptions). The library may also have specific journal subscriptions separate from these consortia database subscriptions. This is often managed by a “databases” reference page on the local intranet or website. This requires the reference services and library clients to discriminate the most appropriate electronic resource for a given query. The library may also have a subscriptions to a variety of online database resources. It is not always easy to know which of these resources is relevant for a particular information requirement. The federated search solves this dilemma by bringing many of the library resources together in a single search. As the complexity of these resources grows, federated searching becomes an important factor in your library architecture.

Commercial providers such as Serials Solutions provide software such as “Summon” which provides a single search platform across both the local catalogue and electronic subscription content.

Some open source library management systems can also provide a platform for federated searching. For instance, Koha provides search capabilities through the Zebra search engine. This engine can itself index different types of resources (such as your Digital Library content). This opens the possibility of making your catalogue not only a portal to the physical assets managed by your library but also a metadata hub to the wider electronic assets managed by the library.

There are alternatives to managing your own federated search software. Google has focused on providing a “single” search framework which is in fact a heterogeneous set of search engines, including:

  • Google Search
  • Google Scholar search
  • Google Maps search
  • Google “my library”

Google scholar allows direct linking to your own library collection (see making it a viable low-cost framework for federated searching.

Another impressive resource that also searches to the article level and can link through to your library is OCLC's WorldCat. Membership of OCLC allows you to make your collection visible in WorldCat, and the WorldCat search includes some article-level searching.

Regional groups have also established their own unified searches. An example of this is the Federated Parliamentary Library System (FPL) established by the African Parliamentary Knowledge Network (see the case study below).

Case Study

Federated Parliamentary Library System (FPL)

The Federated Parliamentary Library System (FPL) is an initiative of the African Parliamentary Knowledge Network. It provides a unified search across 18 African Parliamentary libraries using the Koha library management system as the search framework. This resource is available as a public catalogue at A Google-style search can be used to discover resources across all member libraries with four language interfaces implemented.


Single Sign On

Digital Library and Digital asset management

  • DSpace. DSpace provides an integrated solution to the Digital Library. It has a built-in workflow for document ingestions. Its presentation layer is highly structured, allowing content to be divided into collections, sub-collections and communities. It is very widely used, internationally and as a result support exists. It has a strong support for language internationalisation. DSpace has 96 language packs.
  • EPrints. EPrints, like DSpace, has a wide installation base, and is popular as a method for digital resource delivery. It has a smaller base of language internationalisation and is more focused on the presentation layer/user interface than DSpace. It is an integrated solution. EPrints has 19 language packs.
  • Fedora Commons. - Flexible Extensible Digital Object Repository Architecture (FEDORA) Fedora provides a systematic tool for management of digital archives. As such it is not an integrated Digital Library solution such as E-prints or DSpace, but provides the archival base for a Digital Library system. It can therefore serve a role as the core component of a Digital Asset Management system, Digital Library system or archive for a Content Management system. DSpace and Fedora have announced a project to work together on an approach that allows a DSpace front-end to a Fedora archive.
  • Greenstone. Greenstone was developed by the New Zealand Digital Library Project at the University of Waikato and has been supported by UNESCO. It has a strong base of implementation in Non-Governmental organisations and has four core language packs: English, French, Spanish and Russian.
  • Kete . . Kete is a further contribution of the Horowhenua Library Trust and Katipo Communications Ltd. funded to the open source community. Like core#software|Koha., it has a good presentation layer and is more focused on the user interface than the underlying archival management of the digital resources. Kete has 21 language packs.
  • Knowledge Tree. Knowledge Tree is a document management system that uses the Amazon S3/Cloudfront to store data.
  • Activae. Activae is a robust and scalable Spanish-language digital asset management system. Activae is an open source product of Cenatic. It is Python based DAM (like, Notre DAM and some proprietary DAM solutions such as AssetBank).It includes a transcoding server. Like DSpace it has a strong built-in workflow and is Dublin Core-based.
  • EnteMedia. EnterMedia is an integrated digital asset management system with some capability is for transformation and extraction of embedded metadata, written in Java with an XML metadata framework (rather than a database back end).
  • FocusOPEN. - FocusOPEN is a product with an “open source” version and a commercial version with a range of support options. The free for distribution option includes a wide range of strong digital asset management functions. Written in for Windows servers.
  • TRIM. TRIM. One of the earliest and best known commercial enterprise Records Management systems, supported by Hewlett Packard.

Aggregate Electronic Resource Providers

  • Zebra. “Zebra is a high-performance, general-purpose structured text indexing and retrieval engine. It reads structured records in a variety of input formats (e.g.. email, XML, MARC) and allows access to them through exact boolean search expressions and relevance-ranked free-text queries.”
  • Summon. Summon is designed to provide access to the entirety of a library's collection, be it journal articles, books, or media clippings, through a single search that provides relevancy-ranked lists of results. This is a product from the Proquest family and is integrated tightly with their databases.
  • EBSCO Discovery Service. Another all-in-one package, integrated with EBSCOHost's large number of databases.
  • Google Search, Google Scholar & Google Books. & & http:// As it creates more specialized features, like Google Scholar, Google Maps and customized Google indexes

Reference and Information Services

An important role of the Parliamentary library is the provision of information and research assistance to Parliamentary members and their staff. This service may be integrated with the library or operate as a parallel service. The advice given through the Reference service is the keen edge of the library interface with the Parliament, and as such is the most affected by changing trends in information seeking behaviour.

The advent of Web 2.0 and Social Networking brings tools of extraordinary depth and sophistication at no charge to the fingertips of the library clients. The proof of the relevance of the library therefore relies on the ability of the Parliamentary library to fulfill its role in provision of an impartial, authoritative, and timely information service.

A number of ICT systems can facilitate the work of information research and provision. The traditional ICT tools supporting reference services have been request tracking, database research and document delivery systems. Request tracking systems provide a workflow for submission, tracking and fulfillment of client requests, as well as statistical reporting for purposes of periodic reporting. Database tools have traditional been the means by which reference services have extended the reach of research beyond the core library collection. Document delivery systems formed the means by the results of research could be fulfilled for the client by use of other libraries resources.

Parliamentary Libraries share some characteristics with Law libraries in their need to build a knowledge base off known information requirements of the Parliament. As reference queries are resolved they can form the basis of a knowledge base. They may also be used in a web-based FAQ to assist others following the same information path. Reference tracking systems naturally form an element of the library knowledge base. However, this knowledge base can include the provision of alerting services to target the information needs of members (such as news feeds). A further element of effective Knowledge Management by the library is the evolution of a profile of the specific information needs of clients - potentially through an appropriate Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. While Web 2.0 could be seen as presenting a challenge to the traditional approach to information service delivery, it also provides an opportunity for very personal service provision. This can include the substitution of web-based forms for information service requests with email or instant messaging.

The reference services should also inform the collection building activity of the library. As one of the principle interfaces with the library clients, the types of requests placed and the relationships established with clients can give guidance and direction in the priorities for print and electronic collection priorities.

As with Integrated Library Management Systems, reference tracking systems (such as the well-known RefTracker software), have an implicit workflow. This includes:

  1. Reference request submission forms and request services- (including email and Mobile device submission).
  2. The request is recorded in the reference tracking system.
  3. Reference tasks are allocated where appropriate and a confirmation of the task request is provided to the client (usually by email).
  4. The request is researched. As part of this process the resources used are recorded.
  5. Client response prepared: electronic resources collated and supplied.
  6. Feedback is requested (often as part of the response to the client).
  7. Automatic or manual review of response for inclusion in FAQ and knowledge base.
  8. It should facilitate a periodic review of requests for purposes of collection building - with statistics on resource usage and library KPI's.

The reference services of the library are one among many information sources that members and their staff will draw on. The library is in a unique position to provide a well researched and informed advise on issues raised. Awareness of this service can be enhanced through marketing techniques and a high level of accessibility of the service. Marketing is an important element of the reference services. Marketing can include:

  • Presence in relevant Web 2.0 forums for visibility of the library services and also for placement of requests
  • Indication and training programmes for incoming parliamentarians
  • Current awareness bulletins in areas relevant to parliamentary members
  • Newsletters
  • Visibility and promotion of the service through the intranet

The delivery of these services therefore needs to balance timeliness with relevance

Reference tracking systems

The starting point for effective management of client information needs is an analysis of the system requirements to track client requests. The growing set of tools that the library can draw upon, and the increasingly complex information requirements of clients, can make the process of tracking requests quite complex. Apart from the benefits to the client of efficient fulfillment of their requests, the effective tracking of requests can enhance the library's ability to analyse the areas of most need and demand. There are a variety of tools that can be used to effectively track requests. A starting point, for instance, is to use the productivity tools at hand to build to-do lists and integrate with calendar functions to provide event alerting. Open source (Open Office), commercial (e.g. Microsoft Office) or Web 2.0 (Google Docs) all provide extensible tools for tracking requests that can provide the initial core of a reference tracking system.

The systematic management of the workflow around reference requests may, however, go beyond the capabilities of standard productivity tools. The use of software designed for reference tracking will typically provide a structured workflow around the reference tracking process. A simple reference tracking system will include:

  • Online request forms, email or Instant Messaging for submission of information service requests.
  • Resource management tools to allocate the request.
  • Request tracking tools to allow management of the request through to fulfillment (through internal resources, databases or document delivery systems).
  • Providing the results to the client.
  • Recording the results in order to build up a knowledge resource over time of requests.
  • Statistical reporting.

The use of Instant Messaging or SMS for interactive response to service requests has an immediacy that can be attractive to clients. Staff resourcing (and training) for such a service needs to be sufficient that client scan trust that it's use will elicit a timely response. There are many commercial and open source Instant Messaging solutions available, some design for library requirements. Some of the aspects that may be important in selection of an Instant Messaging solutions can be:

  • Capability for integration with your reference tracking system/knowledge base.
  • Ability to save sessions, review session transcripts.
  • Capabilities for anonymous operation where relevant.
  • Ability to route requests between staff.

The extension of the instant messaging approach to SMS offers the ability for Parliamentary clients to submit requests “on the fly”.

Client Relationship Management (CRM) & Knowledge Management

In the introduction to this handbook we discussed the need for the library to focus on the information requirements of members and their staff, and to provide impartial information from disparate sources that service their needs. Some libraries are moving away from the concept of the “Reference Desk” as a point of information delivery. They are moving to a more personalised service management that may be framed around concepts of client relationship management. An effective CRM can encompass elements of event management and information needs analysis. It may also feed into and draw on a knowledge management resource to facilitate effective response to client information needs. The information for a Client Relationship Management (CRM) may emerge from the implicit knowledge of staff as well as the information captured in the reference tracking system. The CRM model should include the elements of knowledge management that will allow effective fulfillment of known information needs and a history of questions asked and resources commonly used. This information can also inform the direction of collection building.

The CRM should capture:

  • Member/staff contact details,
  • Their information needs,
  • Contact history,
  • Report and request history,
  • Syndication preferences and interest areas, and
  • Key events (to allow alerts for followup and escalation of issues).

Reference tracking and Client Relationship Management software

Examples of Instant Messaging platforms (there are many more)
  • Library3lp. A commercial solution that can be added to websites with a range of add-ons covering a broad range of platforms.
  • Pidgin. - A popular Open Source IM solution with a large range of plugins.
  • LiveZilla. LiveZilla is a free solution with extensibility through commercial extensions (for example statistics). Script-able and flexible.

Software for SMS Reference

Online sharing or video based support

Office productivity tools and simple Client Relationship Management

Reference Sources

Reference Tracking


Guidelines for Behavioural Performance of Reference and Information Service Providers (Reference and user Services Association board of Directors)

Document Delivery

No matter how well resourced your library, the number of books, journals and electronic resources published is much greater than the capability of any individual library to build a complete collection representing all these resources. Libraries have a strong history of collaborative sharing of resources. Document Delivery systems allow libraries to draw in the wider network of libraries to prepare a more complete response to information requests. Document delivery systems rely on aggregation of the holdings of regional, national or sectional groups of libraries into Union Catalogues. These Union Catalogues are an essential element for discovery and supply of holdings and can extend the research reach of your library through access to a national, regional and global resources. The fulfillment of requests for resources in another library is called an inter-library loan (ILL). Standards for fulfillment exist, and there are also standards for electronic workflow management of the inter-library loan process – the International Standards Organisation (ISO) Inter-Library Loan standard ISO 10160 and ISO 10161 are relevant (Interlibrary Loan Application Standards Maintenance Agency 1997) and the electronic placement and fulfillment of ILL requests is common in some regions.

Electronic delivery is rapidly becoming the favoured means of inter-library loan fulfillment, especially when the source material is already in digital form. However such fulfillment may be constrained by licensing and copyright restrictions. For instance, some consortia limit electronic delivery to non-profit research organisations only.

A number of commercial and government delivery services (such Infotrieve) can provide documents on a per-item fee basis in a more timely manner than traditional inter-library loan systems, where speed of delivery is critical.

Document Delivery workflow

Document delivery systems facilitate the workflow management of inter-library loans. Libraries have a long history of collaboration through inter-library loans, and the national and international processes for fulfillment are well understood by libraries. While document delivery systems can vary in capabilities, the key functions they can support are:

  • A request form, sometimes integrated with your search engine, to enable your clients to raise document delivery requests, or possibly part of the reference tracking system.
  • A submission function to allow discovery of libraries with this resource and to place an ILL request
  • A tracking function to track the request through to fulfillment
  • A delivery function to deliver the item to the client
  • Management of the loan to the client and recall at the relevant due time for return (sometimes integrated with your ILMS)
  • Reporting for copyright and management reasons of ILL requests
  • Where applicable, billing and voucher management systems

Similarly, your library will receive ILL requests from other libraries and will a workflow system to track this loan through to return. Key functions for this element of the document delivery workflow are:

  • Receiving a ILL request
  • Discovering the resource and arranging document delivery to the requesting institution
  • Tracking the loan through to return
  • Where applicable, billing and voucher management systems
  • Reporting for copyright and management reasons of ILL requests

Document Delivery Standards

  • ISO 10160:1997 Information and Documentation - Open Systems Interconnection - Interlibrary Loan Application
  • ISO 10161-1:1997 Information and Documentation - Open Systems Interconnection - Interlibrary Loan Application Protocol Specification
  • ISO 10161-2: Information and Documentation - Open Systems Interconnection - Interlibrary Loan Application Protocol Specification - Part 2


Content Management: Intranet, Extranets & Websites

The Parliamentary Library may be responsible for part or all of the management of the intranet, extranet and website of the Parliament. The starting point for evaluating the role of the Parliamentary library in this context is the development of a content strategy. The content strategy can help determine the focus of content presentation in each of the three modes of information delivery. Above all the content strategy should be directed to the needs of Parliamentary members and their support staff.

The Intranet (for service delivery of resources provides the means for focused delivery of resources to the Parliamentary members and their staff. Elements of the content strategy relating to the intranet might include:

  • A focus on news feeds and access to current information and briefings targeted to the members and their staff.
  • Access to digital resources that are available only to members.
  • Access to research and reference services.

The extranet extends the visibility of the intranet to remote users.

  • Virtual Private Network access provides a framework for secure authenticated access for those not using services locally in the Parliament.
  • Single-sign-on or proxy systems to provide web-based access to members without multiple passwords.

The public website provides the means for more widely reaching interested communities: such as schools, universities and the general public. In additional to information about the role and function of parliament and parliamentary democracy, the library can provide valuable information on its collection and resources.

Please refer to the following detailed guidelines on content management for Parliamentary websites:

Guidelines for Parliamentary Websites: a document prepared by the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations Department of Economic and social Affairs, through the Global Centre for ICT in Parliament, March 2009.

Getting started

Minimal infrastructure approaches

There are several approaches to building an intranet that require minimal existing infrastructure. Wikis provide a simple, quick and low-investment approach to presenting content online. Once familiar with the Wiki syntax they can be an effective method for information presentation. An example of an internal wiki tool for documentation is DocuWiki ( Google provides a free hosted facility for document management that allows forms-based scripting and collaborative document preparation (

Managing your own web server

There are a multitude of web and wiki-style content management systems available in Open Source. Two that have a large international installation base are Joomla and Drupal. Joomla has some nice existing modules that suite libraries getting started in document management, such as DocMan ( and has a good language support (


Most public and corporate entities are under an obligation to ensure that their websites fulfill at least the minimum requirements for web accessibility, especially for public-facing websites. The most commonly accepted standard for accessibility are the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which can be found at The thrust of this guidelines is sensible and practical. They are divided into four categories of perception, operation, understandability and robustness. First and foremost, websites should provide text alternatives to all non-text content and time-based media. Content should be amenable to presentation in different ways (for example a simplified layout for website readers). WCAG guidelines have quite practical implications in site design that can readily be implemented with new websites, although retro-fitting existing web applications may be difficult. They include:

  • The use of style-sheet based design and DIV's rather that tables for layout to facilitate representation with different readers
  • For web pages with forms to fill out, all forms items should have labels.
  • All images should have descriptions (the “ALT” tag)
  • Redirection to an external website without warning
  • Strong colour contrast on pages and avoiding flashing images
  • Good use of metadata, especially the title tag and the language attribute
  • Good page organisation - for example the ability to skip past navigation and layout structure directly to the content of a page
  • More recently, the captioning of all video where relevant supporting text is not provided.

Your websites can be tested for practical compliance using one of the screen reading applications available (see software below).



Website content management
  • Joomla. Joomla has good language capabilities and a wide range of “plugins” that support functions such as document management for simple document repositories
  • Drupal. Drupal has strong language capabilities but less “off the shelf” setup
  • Sharepoint. - Microsoft's popular corporate intranet and web content management product
  • Google Docs. Google Docs is Googles newest contribution to their fold - a simple easy web site development tool that includes document collaboration capabilities and some scripting for forms handling.
  • Wordpress. A tool that allows rapid development of well styled sites.
  • MediaWiki. MediaWiki has limited styling by effective development of collaborative documentation sites.
  • DokuWiki.|DokuWiki]] - DokuWiki is a good tool for documentation sites.
  • Kete. Kete is from the originators of the open source Koha ILMS, Kete is a “wiki-inspired” content management system with more natural support for multimedia than most wiki software. It is open source.
  • PHPBB Forums. PHPBB is a bulletin board system. It integrates with many content management systems as a tool.
  • vbulletin. vbulletin is a proprietary bulleting board system.

Accessibility testing

Chapter 4: Archives & Records Management

This chapter will discuss the role of libraries in archives and records management. Not all libraries fulfill this role for the Parliament. Where they do, this chapter outlines the role of ICT in facilitating the archiving and records management process, including Records Management systems. Records are an essential tool for organisations in preserving their history and culture, and form a base of information for planning and decision making. They can also be evidence of accountability for government organisations. For Parliaments, the records of parliamentary debates, media releases and publications by Parliament and Members may be an important role of the library. Where no such record keeping is currently maintained by the Parliament, it may be an area of initiative by the library.

Archives and disaster recovery

Several well-known disasters have impacted Parliaments and their archives. Most notably:

  • The 1834 fire in the UK Houses of Parliament which destroyed most of the records of the House of Commons prior to that date. The records of the House of Lords located in a tower that survived the file, and many document of the House of Lords were saved due to the brave actions of the clerk of the house in throwing papers out the window to preserve them.
  • The burning of the Parliament buildings in Montreal in 1849 during rioting.
  • The 1916 fire in the Parliament of Canada (the library survived).

Fire, earthquake, and simple deterioration can all pose threats to library collections. A plan to ensure that the most important historical are adequately managed. From a systems point of view this can include the proper technical housing of the materials in conditions that ensure their long term preservation, and periodic inspection and review. A policy of digitization can enhance the preservation prospects by ensuring that all valuable physical assets have an equivalent digital copy which can be kept locally and in networked copies. Typical issues for archival maintenance include environmental control, building maintenance (fire and flooding controls), storage, handling and access controls, security and acquisition policies (and in particular retention rules to ensure that required items are marked and retained for archival purposes).

Review of current record keeping capabilities

The first step in assessing the library capabilities to support archives and records management is an assessment of current practice and capabilities to highlight areas of high risk were records and information management procedures are required. It is important to prepare a business case for establishing a robust records management framework. This business case should include an assessment of current capabilities and the steps needed to achieve a robust records management and archival preservation system. This can form the basis for a business case to present to management and to assist in developing the institutional capabilities in this area. This audit should also be focused on highlighting the preservation of the unique physical assets held by the library.

The assets that may be unique to a parliamentary library include:

  • Transcriptions, audio and video records of the houses/chambers of parliament, including acts.
  • Media releases by members.
  • Transcripts and minutes of parliamentary committee meetings.
  • Private papers deposited by parliamentary members.
  • Collections of private political papers and records of political bodies and pressure groups.

However the scope of the record-keeping by the parliamentary library may be broader than this. The International Standards Organisation definition of a “record” includes “recorded information in any form, including data in computer systems, created or received and maintained by an organization or person in the transaction of business and kept as evidence of such activity” (ISO 15489).

Records management systems principles

The role of the library in managing assets may encompass both physical and digital assets. Records management of IT assets can include documents produced and distributed through desktop productivity systems, emails, financial reports, and of course the correspondence and output of parliamentary committees and of course of the Parliament itself.

The proper archival management of these resources needs to achieve several goals. From a documentary point of view they need to be able to demonstrate:

  • that the documents are genuine and original.
  • are accurate and can be trusted (that is they are authoritative copies).
  • that they are complete and unaltered (or at least alterations are annotated and understood).
  • are secure for relevant level of authorised access, alteration or removal.
  • can be discovered effectively through search tools. and
  • are organised coherently with other relevant records.

The management of archival copies of physical assets requires asset management policies that are different from normal library lending policies. For instance, the library should identify the “authoritative” copy of the item, which normally will not be lent. To this end, any system developed to support records management needs to follow consistent processes for asset management. These processes include record capture, registration, classification, security management, appraisal and review, storage, tracking and disposal steps, all as a part of a life cycle of records management, as follows:

  • Record Capture processes– a set of rules governing what records should be kept.
  • Registration - the processes whereby records identified for preservation are assigned a unique identifier and basic description information (such as the date of capture, time, title of the item and source). Classification and indexing – the secondary processes whereby more extensive metadata capture occurs, including information on retention.
  • Access and security – the definition of levels of access, usage restrictions for items. This may include information capture on cultural usage rights and policies.
  • Appraisal – integration of the record into review processes for preservation and, where relevant, disposal.
  • Storage – maintain, handle and store records in accordance with their physical and digital preservation requirements for as long as legally and culturally required.
  • Use and tracking – processes to ensure that only those who are allowed have relevant access and that such access is tracked where relevant.
  • Disposal – processes for review and identification of items that can be disposed of, and the migration of data across formats for longer term retention (for example physical to digital).

Across the breadth of these steps metadata is vital to ensure the management and accessibility of records. Both document management systems and digital library systems will typically have elements of these processes integrated in their workflows. See the previous chapter for more details on the characteristics of these systems and their associated workflows.

Developing an Archives management plan

The business plan for archives management should plan can be formulated which includes the workflow processes, training requirements for staff and environmental changes necessary for good archives management. Associated with this plan should be a disaster recovery assessment which evaluates the risks and associated actions for ongoing records management and preservation. The disaster plan should include the physical and technological elements for recovery from disaster, and should be stored in locations accessible other than on the parliamentary network and include the following information:

  • actions for relevant staff during and after a disaster (for example safe communication capabilities in case of flooding).
  • insurance where applicable.
  • contacts for organisations to act on technological recovery (for instance contractors to freeze-dry books and media to prevent damage from mold).
  • contacts for recovery of information technology assets (the website, the library management system, the digital library) including system recovery documentation.

Where the parliamentary library has a specific responsibility in this area, the designation of an archives office may be necessary whose responsibility will be to ensure that processes for record keeping and preservation are sustained in the Parliament and to sustain ongoing staff development in record keeping policies.

Record keeping metadata

There may be specific national metadata standards for record keeping that meed to be maintain. For instance the AGLS Metadata standard is used by Australian Government agencies as a standard for description of records and archives ( Dublin Core is an important metadata framework that can be expressed as Open Archives Metadata ( Many of the digital library systems discussed in the previous chapter include capabilities for metadata enhancement of records and objects stored in the system. METS is as well-known schema used for many records and archives and designed for digital libraries (

Policy decisions around record management

It is important to document the policy decisions around record keeping, including retention rules, transportation, storage and destruction.

Record keeping systems

Refer to the previous chapter for discussion of records and digital library systems that can support archives management. Core technologies that support good records management are barcoding and RFID. Barcoding of physical assets is cheap and durable and simplifies the process of undertaking periodic stocktakes/reviews of assets. RFID can be useful both for tracking and asset review where tracking of items is more critical.


Digital Library for Digital asset management
  • DSpace DSpace provides an integrated solution to the Digital Library. It has a built-in workflow for document ingestions. Its presentation layer is highly structured, allowing content to be divided into collections, sub-collections and communities. It is very widely used, internationally and as a result support exists. It has a strong support for language internationalisation. DSpace has 96 language packs.
  • Greenstone Greenstone was developed by the New Zealand Digital Library Project at the University of Waikato and has been supported by UNESCO. It has a strong base of implementation in Non-Governmental organisations and has four core language packs: English, French, Spanish and Russian.
  • DLXS - a hybrid open source/commercial Digital Library system also used for document management.

Records Management software

Chapter 5: Current developments in social media and Web 2.0

This chapter presents an overview of social media and web 2.0 developments and the common technologies. It explores the ways in which social media is relevant to the Parliamentary library both as a tool for research and as a means of outward projection of the library services.

One of the phenomenal developments of the last decade has been the acceptance and transformation of the web from a purely informational resource to a two-way, highly engaged medium of communication. This has occurred across cultural, national and economic boundaries. Web 2.0 and Social Networking have been the buzz-words underlying this transformation. Web 2.0 refers to a “second generation” of web-based services typified by two-way engagement, collaboration and information sharing.

Web 2.0 is not a single concept. Rather it is a metaphor for the convergence of technologies that enables rich participation in and remixing (mash-ups) of applications. The element of participation is most richly expressed in the emergence of blogs and other vehicles for personal expression on the web. The ease with which personal narrative can be interwoven with other websites and other information sources was a key transition point from the web as a one-way information source to the web as an interactive discussion place. Social networking (Facebook, Twitter and others) has extended this further by providing immediacy to personal expression in a context of networked relationships.

The library no longer stands as the principal reference point for accumulated knowledge of an organisation. It remains, however, one of the trusted sources of knowledge. This presents both opportunities and challenges for the library. Amidst the diversity of rich information sources now available to anyone with an Internet connection, the Parliamentary Library itself must assert its role as:

  • a trusted source of impartial information,
  • a source of advice and training for those navigating these diverse resources,
  • a point of reference to facilitate understanding and filtering these diverse resources, and
  • a reliable point of permanent record and potentially also a distribution point for resources that contribute to these wider resources.

This presents a professional development challenge for libraries: to be conversant and even situated in the middle of these new tools while maintaining a firm grip on the responsibilities for trustworthy management of information resources on behalf of Parliamentary Libraries.

Leveraging Web 2.0 for research

The physical collection of the library is only one of the reference points for research to meet the needs of parliamentary libraries. In addition to being a unique new phenomenon of communication between groups, it also presents additional opportunities for research by the library on behalf of its members and clients. For the parliamentary library the research may begin within the bounds of the library but it will certainly extend beyond that. Many of the resources now available for research are free, and are being used by library clients themselves. The role of the information professional here is important, as key concepts in searching remain important:

  • Exhaustivity: the degree to which your research touches on the full range of information resources and search results that meet the clients needs
  • Specificity: the degree to which your research is exactly what the client needs

The research may have to mediate information already obtained by the client that is of mixed quality and reliability. Just as doctors face the phenomenon of patients coming with their own Google search results on their ailments, so also information professionals must help to analyse and integrate information from quite disparate sources. Michael Sayers neatly encapsulated the new generation of research tools available to the library in the term “Searching 2.0”. Beyond the borders of the library and its traditional research databases and catalogue, lie a rich set of resources available in the Web 2.0 domain.

The research process itself is changing with the “quantum affect” of web 2.0 participation - the research may itself leave a trail of participation behind through tagging, reviews and blogging that enrich in the overall information resource.

The following are some of the key Web 2.0 resources available to the researching in the Parliamentary Library:

The Google Gaggle

Google search - still the pre-eminent search engine. The ranking algorithm, based on frequency of links to a given page has proven effective over time, even when distorted by Google's sale of keywords and strenuous efforts by others to distort rankings to their own ends. However, the Google search is not the only rich resource provided by the imaginative crowd at Google. Probably more important for research purposes are the new members in the Google fold.

Google scholar ( - indexes research articles, legal patents legal opinions and journals, providing a free vehicle for citation-based searching. While a big draw card for academics, this can also be a useful method for background research on key topic areas of interest to parliamentary members.

Google books ( - is the latest Herculean effort by Google to become the hub for discovering all publications. While faltering on the copyright front, it still represents an extraordinary research resource. A result page in Google books is an example of the mash-ups possible in web 2.0 - with reviews, cover art, related works, tag clouds of terms in the work, bibliographic information (including subject relationships) sample pages of scans, links to commercial providers of the work and “find in a library” - linking to WorldCat.

Google maps ( - by providing Google maps as an online resource that was simultaneously accessible as a web page and as a tool for others to mash-up with geographical information, Google has provided an immeasurably effective resource. Google maps is itself replete with metadata and therefore represents a search tool for not only location discovery but also for searching about places, people and things.

Google blog ( - provides a search engine indexing blogs specifically.

Google news ( - a news feed - that can be regionalised and taken as an RSS feed (for example all news items mentioning a given person).

Google+ ( - Googles' latest response to Facebook, following their failed Wave product, with video chat (hangout).

There are potential privacy with Google services as there are with most major search engines. The IP address, search keywords and sites visited may all be tracked. Alternatives such as Scroogle ( & leverage Google to yield search results that preserve privacy and without advertisements. They do not pass through to external sites search times used and insulate the searcher from logging and local recording of search terms used. Other search engines such as ixquick ( attempt to protect the privacy of the search process.


WorldCat ( , managed by the library Goliath OCLC, complements rather than competes with Google. Representing an aggregate collection of OCLC members around the world it sports > 1.4 billion items. Among the interlinking functions are “Ask a Librarian” which links through to a librarian in affiliated libraries.


Wikipedia represents a phenomenal resource. Established in 2001, it has carved out a unique place in the web. Its content may often be of questionable authenticity, and can be fraught with misuse and inaccuracy. Nevertheless, its sheer scope makes it unequaled in breadth of content. Irrespective of whether the information professional disdains or lives by Wikipedia, it is important to be aware of its presence in the information sphere. This awareness for the parliamentary library can include:

  • establishing a profile on Wikipedia for the library
  • becoming familiar with its search and alerting capabilities.

Wikipedia has a free-text search similar to Google, including the ability to qualify search terms. For instance parliament -Westminster will search on articles with the term parliament and without the term Westminster. The wiki includes a useful pseudo-authority for commonly used terms - searching on “Parliament (disambiguation)” will illustrate this concept - giving alternative semantics around a wider term.

Parliamentary members may be interested in references to themselves or to topics they are interested in. Registering on the wiki is the entry point for contributing and editing articles. It also allows the registered client to mark pages to “Watch”. This will result in email alerts when there is activity on a topic that is of interest.

Facebook, YouTube, Flickr

Social networking allows individuals to describe their interests and activities and develop a community of common interests. The core group of social networking tools represented by Facebook, YouTube and Flickr represent a vast, raw, resource of content and information. Each of these resources has a separate search engine, and most have a form of advanced search which at least allow searching by types of media and recency of publication (for instance the “search options” in YouTube). As with Wikipedia, YouTube has a subscribe option to monitor particular pages or “channels”. Yahoo's Flickr also has an advanced search allowing filtering by media type or date, and a range of functions to annotate through tagging or “favourites”. Unlike Flickr and YouTube, Facebook requires sign-in for searching. The search options are limited. The importance of Facebook is networking and “presence”, and the integration of Facebook with other Web 2.0 functions such as Twitter.


While Blogs are a common method of outward communication by the library (see below), they are also an important resource to be tracked and monitored by the library. Parliamentary members may maintain blogs, and the indexing and referencing of these by the library can provide a valuable resource on the intranet or extranet. Similarly, when researching issues for members, reference to blogs as well as media releases may be important. Google blog search may also be a useful service in this context.

Regional and function-specific search engines

Social Media as a marketing and information channel about the library

Opportunities for the utilisation of social media as an information channel about the library and for alerting services/dissemination of information.

The library is for and about its current and future clients and their information needs. The information professionals that are part of the library and and research services are situated in the midst of a complex network of information and communication. It is important for the library to be aware and situated in the midst of the information and communication channels of its clients. For this reason, if no other, the Social Network toolkit is an important part of the resources used by the library.


Wikipedia is just one in a class of web based documentation tools that enable quick, often participatory, development of web content in a simple, rapid manner. Wikis are characterised by a simple writing syntax that (after a short learning curve) allows simple collaborative development of web-based information. It can complement an intranet for purposes of documentation and information delivery. The software supporting Wikis is light-weight - DokuWiki ( for instance requires no database and has a very simple install, but is complemented by a wide range of “plugins” than extend its functionality. The wiki can be used for a broad range of task support in the library, from documentation to knowledge management.


The blog is probably the first, easiest and most personal Web 2.0 presents the Parliamentary Library can establish. The library is the conduit of news on information, events and resources that are very suitable to blogging and can attract a considerable following. Types of news suitable for a blog include:

  • New titles and resources available through the library
  • Summaries of news feeds relevant to members
  • Book reviews
  • Events and activities


Libraries are great content creators as well as content managers. The Parliamentary Library may be the custodian of a range of information resources that members are vitally interested in. This may include current news feeds, new publications, media releases from other members. In addition that the library may be responsible for managing the intranet, extranet and web presents not only of the library bat other sections of the parliament. RSS (definition here) represents a simple means of distributing this information to others on a selective or wholesale basis. The technology for RSS syndication is already integrated into may library and information applications. Clients can consume RSS syndicated feeds easily through standard web browsers and email clients. Moreover they can, as with all Web 2.0 resources, reshape these feeds themselves in different ways. Blog updates can be syndicated through RSS.


Twitter is a vehicle for very short, and very immediate communication to a wider audience. A “tweet” is a short communication (of no more than 140 characters) that can be “followed” by others that may be interested. Tweets can be an effective tool for communication between information professionals. It can be a means of researching and tracking developments and announcements by members and others of interest to the Parliamentary library and the Parliament as a whole. The draw card of the “tweet”, as against RSS, is the personal nature, the immediacy and the brevity of the communication. Along the theme of rich inter-networking of social media tools, tweets can themselves feed from (and to) other social media tools, such as Facebook and Blogs. They can be a rich means for keeping abreast of developments at conferences that you are interested but cannot attend - through the use of hashtags and other “back channels”.


Why does the library need to have a presence in Facebook - where they already have a web page presence? The significance of a Facebook page for the libraries lies in positioning the library in the midst of the discourse and information networks of the clients themselves. A presence in Facebook is a portal not only to communication with clients, but also with other libraries. A presence there should be judged on a mature assessment of:

  • the capability of your library to maintain and keep relevant this presence
  • the degree to which your members and staff are themselves using Facebook (you may be surprised)

As with tweets, the attraction of Facebook lies in the sense of personal engagement that it represents, and therefore the outward expression of the library in the community.


Tagging is the means by which your clients can interact with your information systems. Tagging allows the client to create topic phrases that express their particular interest, and share these “tags” with others. It is one of the ways in which the catalogue and other resources can be opened up to the dynamic nature social networking interaction.

Tagging transforms an otherwise static resource into a dynamically evolving and inter-connected resource. The ILMS software for the library catalogue may already support tagging. Similarly, many of the news and information resources that the library engages with in research and support activities will already support tagging. By engaging actively with tagging - and by tagging the results of existing research, the process of information engagement with members can be extended by contributing to the readily accessible pool of information that is directly relevant, by experience, to members and their support staff. There are risks associated with tagging and inappropriate usage of tags. This risks balanced by the additional utility offered by the ability for your clients to select particular resources from your collection and share these selections with others.

Contributing to Web 2.0 - Inter-operability

As well as engagement through in the Web 2.0 social networking sphere, the library can engage in a more fundamental way by open up its own unique services to the web through web services. The library can be a rich aggregate resource of useful information by and about the members it serves. Enabling web services that others can consume is a way of going beyond the vicarious engagement using others tools and contributing to the information admixture of the web.

To be useful, such services need to be built in a metadata framework that facilitates interoperability. Services can be delivered through a set of functions or “Application Programming Interfaces” (API's). These may be implemented through:

  • Web services - programmatic interfaces between a client system and a web server
  • AJAX and other Javascript-based services - such as used by Google maps to provide simple mapping services using Javascript.


Standalone software
  • Mozilla Thunderbird. Mozilla Thunderbird supports an RSS feed. Indeed most modern email clients now have an RSS reader built in. Mozilla Thunderbird is the most popular open source alternative to Microsoft's Outlook.
  • Tweetdeck. Tweetdeck is a program for organizing and posting to various social media services including Twitter (who now owns Tweetdeck), Facebook, FourSquare, LinkedIn and anything with a Twitter-compatible API (though they haven't integrated Google+ as of this writing). Software like this allows easier monitoring of hashtags and lists as well. It is available for desktop clients as well as mobile devices.


Google Products

  • Google Reader. Google Reader is web-based RSS reader, with support for organizing and sharing individual articles and RSS feeds. It's useful for accessing RSS feeds away from the desktop.
  • Google Scholar. Google Scholar indexes research articles, legal patents legal opinions and journals, providing a free vehicle for citation-based searching.
  • Google Books. Google Books provides access to books, with reviews, cover art, related works, tag clouds of terms in the work, bibliographic information (including subject relationships) sample pages of scans, links to commercial providers of the work and “find in a library” - linking to WorldCat.
  • Google Maps. Google Maps provides a search tool for not only location discovery but also for searching about places, people and things, including an extensible API that allows integration with your own website.
  • Google Blog. Google Blog. - provides a search engine indexing blogs specifically.
  • Google News. Google News provides a search engine and news feed from news sources around the world.
  • Google Plus. Google Plus is Googles' latest foray into social networking.


  • Scroogle. Scroogle leverages Google to yield search results that preserve privacy and without advertisements.
  • Ixquick. This search engine has protections for the privacy of the search process.
  • Ning. Ning is a (commercial) tool to create your own social networking site.
  • WorldCat. WorldCat is OCLC's interlinking catalogue of books.


  • OStatus. OStatus is an open standard for distributed status updates. It is currently used by StatusNet, the software behind the open-source Twitter alternative (

Social media for democratic engagement and participation

Social media has been revolutionary in the full sense of the word. It has changed the ways in which the citizens engage with their government, and also opened up new channels for two-way communication between individuals and also between organisations and individuals.

There is considerable room for risk, mistakes and failure in an area for which there are poorly defined rules for etiquette and behaviour. The Parliamentary library has the potential to play a role in facilitating the effective introduction and use of these tools in the Parliamentary environment and to make resources available to Parliamentary members and their staff to use and understand these services.

Chapter 6: Impact measures and statistics

Library statistics are an important means for library self assessment and performance management. Methodologies for gathering and harnessing library statistics have a long track record in major western countries. The EU project LibEcon2000 ( set a regional direction for consistent data collection for library statistics, which itself facilitates measurement of performance at the national level through the use of consistent statistics. The Global Centre for ICT in conjunction with the Parliamentary Libraries Section of IFLA has similarly undertaken regular surveys of Parliamentary libraries whose information provides valuable feedback for libraries in setting their direction. The recently promulgated Manifesto for Statistics published by IFLA clearly sets out the importance of statistics in supporting the library within the Parliament. Statistics serve several purposes: to provide evidentiary support of the ways in which the library fulfills its role, to guide the library in decision making about investment in service delivery (and budgetary planning), and to guide progressive improvement of service delivery.

Performance measurement of libraries is not simply about collecting usage statistics, collection sizes and budgetary information on staffing, acquisitions and electronic resources. It also entails a continuous process of assessment that involves eliciting the end users opinion of the library performance. Roxanne Missingham's paper discussed in the introduction on the changing role of reference services in libraries highlights the importance of understanding and adjusting service delivery based on the current needs of the Parliamentary members and their staff.

The ISO 1160 standards also affirm the measurement of the quality and effectiveness of the services delivered as well as the goals and objectives of the library.

Current standards for the collection of statistics in libraries are proposed by ISO TC46/SC8, section of the International Standards Organization (ISO 2789 and ISO 11620) in Europe, and the National Information Standards Organization (ANSI/NISO Z39.7) in the United States. Major projects such as LibEcon2000 have illustrated the strategic benefit of having global statistics consistent across libraries regionally and nationally, and have informed subsequent efforts toward consistent standards for statistical gathering. Organisations such the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC -, JSTOR Web Statistics Task Force (, and the D-Lib Working Group’s Digital Library Metrics ( demonstrate the considerably interest in improving standards for library measurement.

An important resource for the library is the IFLA Library Statistics Manifesto (see Resources below).

Measuring resource use

Most integrated library management systems come with a suite of tools for reporting on collection usage by categories of patrons and items. The types of statistics that should be collated and tracked monthly and annually are:

  • Acquisitions by type of patron and type of item against budget
  • Circulation statistics (reservations/holds and borrowings)
  • In-house usage statistics (many systems will allow tracking of usage by checking in items left on desks and stacking trolleys by checking these in before shelving. This can provide a valuable measure of in-house usage).
  • Overdue rates and return rates
  • Search statistics (what subject and keywords are searched)
  • Web-based statistics - what parts of the library website are most frequently used
  • Digital library usage statistics
  • Reference queries by client and by type of query and resource used

Measuring electronic collection

The breadth and diversity of electronic systems presents specific challenges to gathering common statistics across divers platforms and services. Different suppliers, where they supply usage statistics, may do so in a variety of different ways. Nevertheless, assessing electronic usage as part of statistics gathering is most critical for libraries at a critical juncture of transition in the use of library services. An important task of the library is to assemble best equivalence measures of usage taking different source figures. For instance, while one vendor might provide statistics on searches undertaken and downloads made, another might break this down to collection or title categories.

There is no question that electronic systems can extend library services beyond the normal opening hours. Where these services are delivered through an internal library “proxy” some tracking is possible of these resources. Some vendors may provide information on when the services are being used. For instance JSTOR is provides reports detailing the breakdown by hour of access and services used. The library will probably have to use a combination of information elicited from web server logs, its own internal systems and vendor provided reports to glean a clear picture of electronic systems usage.

Website usage statistics

Usage statistics can give you a good indication over time of the important parts of your websites (intranet, extranet and Internet). There are many tools that allow you to analyse these usage statistics (see the resources section below). The following are some guidelines on reviewing these statistics:

  • Page hits are useful as a relative measure over time and to measure the relative popularity of different pages and sections of the site. They are not an indication of the number of users, since much usage may be masked by web site caches.
  • Customer visit figures are an approximation of the number of unique customers visiting your site. They rely on the web server logs to give sufficient information to estimate which pages a single customer has used over time (as distinct from usage by discrete different customers).
  • Usage by hour of day - this information can be very useful in measuring times during which your website receives peak usage during the week.
  • Referring information - when provided by your web logs can give useful statistics on where customers came *from* to reach your website
  • Search keywords and phrases - gives an indication of topic areas used by customers using your site

It is particularly worth reviewing changes in statistics usage patters before and after major website changes.

Measuring customer satisfaction

The measurement of customer satisfaction is newer territory for libraries, but provides important feedback that can be particularly valuable in judging strategic directions. Statistical and Qualitative research methods are part of the basic research toolkit. Quantitative methods are applied to the analysis of population data, controlled trials, surveys census taking, econometrics, ratings analysis and many other areas. Quantitative research involves population sampling techniques which give the capacity to analyse and the ability to generalise theories. There are many texts on the most effective approaches to Quantitative research.

The mission of Qualitative Research is the discovery of new phenomena through careful in-depth examination of the results of non-quantitative investigation. The scope can be anything from the detailed study of a single case to the textual analysis of large amounts of free-form survey data. Approaches to Qualitative Research include:

  • Focus groups
  • Case Studies
  • Delphi Method
  • Content Analysis
  • Action Research

Case Studies

The in-depth analysis of a particular organisation, situation or environment can highlight possible cause/effect relationships that are not otherwise apparent. They represent Max Weber's “typification” - the realisation of generalised models through the detailed understanding of specific cases. They are, of their very nature, open to interpretation, and subjective. A case study may involve re-interpretation of existing data in a new way.

Focus groups

Quantitative analysis can be an effective tool for the analysis of specific opinions and issues. However, Focus Groups can be an efficient way of rapidly gathering many different opinions in a relatively short space of time. A selected panel of users discussing issues in an environment controlled by an interviewer, potentially involving a series of iterations on questions, can provide immediate feedback on questions being tested. With an experienced interviewer, follow-up questions can arise immediately to reveal aspects of a question that have not yet been considered, and in this way key issues can be identified quite early.

The risk of focus groups is the potential domination within a selected group of strong individuals, whose opinion tends to occupy the discussion space. Similarly, interviewer bias can subtly be communicated to the participants. Typically, the Focus Group is useful for measuring consumer reaction, evaluating consumer-purchasing decisions, and measuring the use of products and services. They can be an effective approach to measuring the potential target audience reaction to a proposed idea.

The question design for focus groups yields best results when the target group are taken through several phases in the development of their ideas leading to the central question of questions. Characteristically the focus group will go through four phases:

  • Introductory questions. These introduce the broad interest area. Their main purpose is to stimulate the initial discussion among the participants.
  • Transitional questions. The group should be led through more concrete questions, examples or case studies, which focus the discussion in the interest area.
  • Key Questions. The key focus group questions are introduced by the moderator when the group has reached a suitable level of discussion and engagement in the interest area. The key interest areas should be directly addressed. Feedback, discussion and the following of interesting aspects of the discussion are a key role of the moderator.
  • Final Questions. A final series of questions can be used to wrap up the discussion and give a sense of closure, as well as exploring ancillary topics of interest arising from the key questions of the focus group.

Results are gathered from four or more focus groups and these are compiled using a Qualitative Data analysis tool such N5.

The Delphi Method

The Delphi method is an approach to forecasting using expert panels. Like a focus group, discussion and panel sessions are used to elicit opinion and ideas regarding developments that may be on the horizon. This is an iterative process, that may see several groups exchange their ideas as they work to a consensus on key future trends, issues or research directions. In the nature of these panels, very strong facilitation is necessary to avoid an early convergence to consensus or the domination of one individual or theme. In the final round of a Delphi session, questions are often ranked in priority or probability. Such techniques are often a useful approach to formulating options in cases of high uncertainty. The work by Lindstone and Turnoff (1975) presents a comprehensive appraisal of the Delphi approach.

Content Analysis

In many cases researchers already have a rich resource of content available for textual mining. Content analysis looks at trends and occurrences and meanings in such texts. Word frequency, contextual analysis, semantic analysis of texts, clustering and other analysis methods now rely heavily on Information Systems. Software tools such as ATLAS*TI and NUD*IST are particularly strong in methods for content analysis using Grounded Theory. Other packages focus on thesaurus based and probabilistic analysis of texts: Semio Taxonomy and Intelligent Miner for texts being two examples. Hamlet is a software tool that focuses on various techniques for word frequency analysis. Linguistic analysts also have at command a range of software applications focused specifically on lexical analysis: such as Interlinear Text Processor and Shoebox.

Action Research

Finally, Action Research is an immensely popular method for situationally based research. Rather than attempting to compartmentalise the researcher and the subjects of the research, Action Research assumes the active engagement of the researcher in the problem and its resolution. It is focused on applied research, and continual refinement.


Consistency over time is important in the use of both qualitative and quantitative statistics, particularly where they are used to measure key performance indicators and strategic decisions for the library.

Reporting and Key Performance Indicators

Libraries in most organisations are now subject to a level of scrutiny as to their role and relevance unlike any time before. Parliamentary libraries are not exempt from this scrutiny. It is important therefore that the library begins to prepare the statistics that demonstrate its utility in the daily life of the parliament. For management reporting these statistics are often presented in terms of KPI's or Key Performance Indicators. Groundwork with management is needed to ensure these indicators reinforce the relevance of the library service. Ground work is needed in the library to ensure these KPI results are truly reflective of the breadth of service delivery.

The purpose for gathering these statistics is to keep the Parliament informed of the ongoing contribution and value of the library and to facilitate the direction of resources where they are most needed. The library should prepare an annual report on the activities of the library which brings together the achievements and activities of the year. KPI's should be developed in conjunction with the Parliamentary management to reflect priorities for the library in supporting the work of the Parliament. An example of the annual report from the House of Commons Parliamentary Library in the United Kingdom can be found in the case study below.

The annual report can present:

  • the Key Performance Indicators - these might include:
    • collection usage statistics
    • collection development statistics
    • research service statistics (requests, reports)
    • training delivered
    • website usage and statistics
  • the major projects and achievements for the previous year
  • the major tasks facing the library for the forthcoming year

An example of an annual report is presented in the Case Study below.

Case Studies

The Parliament of Australia library undertook a Delphi study as a means of assessing current perceptions and expectations for their Reference services. The report was published in the IFLA journal in the following report:

<blockquote>Missingham, Roxanne. “Parliamentary library and research services in the 21st century: A Delphi study”. doi: 10.1177/0340035210396783. IFLA Journal March 2011 vol. 37 no. 1 52-61.

The House of Commons in the United Kingdom provides an annual report which includes a detailed report on performance, activities and forward plans for the library.


Message from the Librarian and Director General Research and Information Services for Members

  • Introduction
  • What We Said We Would Do
  • Activity & performance
  • Other developments

Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology (POST) Public Information Directorate

  • Introduction
  • What we said we would do
  • Activity and Performance
  • Developments in 2010/11
  • Other developments

Information Management Directorate

  • Introduction
  • What We Said We Would Do
  • Activity and Performance
  • Other developments


  • Introduction
  • Developments in 2010/11
  • What We Said We Would Do

Departmental Services Directorate

  • Introduction
  • Activity and Performance
  • DIS Structure (April 2011)

Read the report





Web site statistics measurement
  • Google analytics - - Google analytics is a popular tool for measuring website usage statistics. By use of a small piece of Javascript embedded in your web pages it gives good tracking reports.
  • Piwik analytics - - An open source alternative to Google analytics. This may require a little extra installation time on your servers, but has quite powerful reporting capability similar to Google analytics.
  • AWStats open source log analyzer - - AWStats is an powerful open source log analyser. Your IT area should be able to assist you in providing log files from your intranet and extranet. This tool requires some initial configuration time, but has strong reporting capabilities, including keyword search usage. Since it operates off your log files, it is not restricted to showing only public web site usage statistics.

Examples of statistics gathering approaches

  • LibEcon.|LibEcon. A European initiative to gather consistent individual and regional statistics on libraries.
  • LIBQUAL. LIBQUAL is a not-for-profit structured set of services to “to solicit, track, understand, and act upon users’ opinions of service quality”. The merit of the system is its widespread base and the ability to asses individual library results against a large performance base gathered over time. It is managed by members of the Association of Research Libraries (principally large university libraries). The approach an methodology are strong, and could form the basis for similar regional evaluation arrangements for parliamentary libraries.
  • International Collections of Statistics. A useful reference resource provided by the Council of Australian University Libraries.


The IFLA Statistics and Evaluation section has published the:

IFLA Statistics Manifesto.

The manifesto includes a model questionnaire.



ASCII - American Standard Code for Information Interchange: Along with EBCDIC an early English-language character encoding system for digital text encoding. Most text editors can save content in ASCII form.

ASP (server) - Application Service Provider: A particular business model for licensing of applications using a centralised server delivered over an Internet framework.


Bandwidth: The rate at which information can be passed between computers. A wider bandwidth means more content can traverse the network in a shorter amount of time.

Book: An analog device for random access to printed multimedia content. An information storage device which is portable, requires no power supply, and has minimal issues of obsolescence.

Browser: software for navigating the Web, retrieving documents and other files, commonly in HTML mark-up format.


CMS - Content Management System : - software for managing intranets, extranets and public websites (sometimes also Customer Management Systems).

CRM - Customer Relationship Management - software for tracking customer preferences, interests and requirements.

Codec: The compression and decompression algorithm for audio and video content.

CSS - Cascading Style Sheet: The CSS defines rule-based presentational instructions for HTML content mark-up. The Style Sheet has the merit of gaining a greater freedom from the specific encoding of procedural mark-up within the text itself (with the <font> tag and others).


DAM- Digital Asset Management: A class of software for managing multi-media resources, from capture through to retrieval and presentation.

DCMI - Dublin Core Metadata Initiative: A standard for consistent meta-identification of website publications.

Digital (content): Information that is encoded in binary (discontinuous) form particularly and mediated by computers.

Digital Watermarks: A unique digital signature is embedded in the document, image or multimedia item – in a manner very similar to the traditional watermark on paper. Digital watermarks however, can contain meta-data about the content or the content creator. This meta-data might identify:

  • Ownership
  • Extra data and information
  • Embedded hyperlinks.

Document Delivery: The workflow process for managing Inter-Library Loans (ILL’s).

DOM - Document Object Model: The strictly hierarchical specification for the ontological structure or organisation of a document. HTML is an example of a DOM.

DTD - Document Type Definition: The specific set of rules defining what elements and attributes may be used in SGML and XML.


EDI - Electronic Data Interchange: The exchange of business documents (and financial transactions) in the course of business operation.

EDIFACT: A business document exchange ontology. Favoured by European businesses.


Facebook: An example of a Web 2.0 social networking platform that allows members to load their profile of interests, hobbies and to communicate and inter-network with other members.

Flash: An animation component from Macromedia for use in web Browsers. Open source documentation for the Flash document format has been released.

FTP - File Transfer Protocol: One of the earliest file interchange protocols on the Internet. Still a very popular protocol. Generally passes passwords in free text and so has major security limitations.


Host: Any computer that is the central point of connection to run an application or obtain information (eg a Web server). In the Internet a Client Web Browser connects to a Host Web Server to exchange HTML and other information.

HTML - HyperText Mark-up Language: A set of mark-up instructions for creating documents for use on the World Wide Web. The HTML standard is defined and controlled by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). An SGML-compliant DTD for HTML (XHTML) has been published by W3C.

HTTP - Hypertext Transfer Protocol: This defines the communications protocol by which Web Browsers and Web servers communicate.

Hypermedia: The general conceptual approach to interlinking multimedia documents through all forms of object links (including text hyperlinks).

Hypertext: the specific implementation of hypermedia in text form. A particular word or phrase is made active (through mouse click or keyboard action) to launch another related document. The term was coined by Ted Nelson in 1965. The HTML “a” anchor tag is used for hypertext formatting in the World Wide Web.


IEEE/LOM - The IEEE Learning Object Model: An ontology for describing learning objects. Popular in the IT community for describing IT technical/theoretical literature.

IFLA - International Federation of Library Associations The international body representing libraries and the library profession. ILL - Inter-Library Loan: Provision of an article or book by another library for use by your library on a loan basis.

Internet: An internet is a group of networks of computers that are connected by a common protocol. The Internet refers to the global connection of computers using the TCP/IP protocol.

IP - Internet Protocol: A protocol defining the numerical addressing and routing rules on the Internet.

IP - Intellectual Property: The tangible output of creative intellectual activity in a particular expression – eg, a book, a programme, a piece of music, a poem, an invention.

ISO ILL: An international standard for Inter-Library Loans workflow management. Used by Document Delivery Systems.

ISO 639-2: An international standard for country codes. Used by XML and HTML for country definition.


Java: a high-level, object oriented programming language developed by Sun Microsystems. A “p-code” language, it is designed to be portable across most operating platforms through the use of a small “virtual engine” specific to each operating system. That portability and its object-oriented design has been a factor in its popularity.

Javascript: A popular scripting language developed originally by Netscape Communications in order to animate HTML pages. It is only loosely based on Java.


KM - Knowledge Management: The class of software and domain of research concerned with the encoding and discovery of knowledge as a resource.

KWIC - Key Word In Context: A search result display which shows the keyword searched in the sentence context in which it occurs.


LAN - Local Area Network: A group of computer connected together for high-bandwidth file and application sharing.

Library 2.0: A term describing library systems that are enabled for collaboration and interation in a Web 2.0 style and the use of Web 2.0 functions by the library.

LDAP - Lightweight Directory Access Protocol: A commonly used protocol for single-signon to systems.


MARC - Machine Readable Cataloging: A metadata ontology for exchange of bibliographic information – note also MARC XML.

Mark-up: The placement of identifiers in text from which can be inferred information regarding the presentation, formatting and structure of the text or which adds additional commentary regarding the text (but not part of the text). Procedural Mark-up

Multimedia: Any combination of text, audio animation and video content in a digital form.


NewsML - News Mark-up Language: A content exchange framework specifically designed for XML interchange and syndication of news items.


Obsolescence: Specifically in the context of technology: the way in which computer hardware or software becomes out of date in a way that renders its use progressively more difficult or costly.

Ontology: A formal definition of the relationships between content “objects” and framework for describing these content “objects.”

Open Source: The Open Source & Free Software Foundation is a trust-based means of developing high quality software. Distribution of the source code is free, and redistribution on this same basis is mandated through a licensing agreement. The economic argument for such an approach depends on the “reputation value” of the product leading to income through services and as a means of ensuring that a particular software product remains and develops in the open community of developers.


Parser: An application that semantically deciphers content according to specific rules or structures. An XML parser facilitates the hierarchical exploration of an XML document. A language parser may attempt to discover the grammatical constructs in a sentence or computer algorithm.

PHP - PHP Hypertext Processor: (yes, the definition is self-referential, or recursive).

Perl - Practical Extraction and Report Language: A scripting language with strengths in text parsing and processing. Perl is an interpretive language.

Persistence: Establishing a reliable and long-term (rather than transient or anonymous) presence that can last beyond a particular interaction. URL persistence concerns the availability of a web page over the long term at a known location. Session state persistence relates to the use of Cookies to maintain a specific information relationship over time between a browser and a web server.

Protocol: The formal set of rules for communication between network devices or applications. Protocols are generally managed and published by international standards organisations.


RAD - Rapid Application Development: The use of a heterogonous mix of software development tools and development methodologies to accelerate the design process.

RDF - Resource Description Framework: The RDF specification (Lassila & Swick, 1999) aims to provide a formal model using directed graphs to describe the semantics of metadata and of cataloguing web-based resources.


SLA: Service Level Agreement

SCORM: Similar to the IEE/LOM, but providing a richer framework describing the metadata ontology describing educational objects and resources.

Script: a loosely timed, often interpretive, computer programme. Often embedded within an application framework to add user control or dynamic functionality to an application.

Search Engine: a means of cataloguing, classifying and searching based on ranking rules for content on the Web.

SGF - Structured Graph Format: Defines an XML metadata format for exploration of overlapping hierarchies of content - especially websites.

SGML - Standard Generalised Mark-up Language: A universal syntax for defining mark-up language. A “meta-language”.

SOAP - Simple Object Access Protocol: A protocol, now integral to Web Services, for process interaction with a Web site over standard HTTP communication channels.


TCP/IP - Transmission Control Protocol/Internet Protocol: The protocol-level for communication on an Internet. Defines the addresses to be used, the routing rules for traversal of the network and the protocols for file and data interchange.

TEI - Text Encoding Initiative: A key text mark-up standard for SGML mark-up of texts in the Humanities.

Twitter: A Web 2.0 social networking function allowing very short messages to be sent out from multiple devices and subscribed to by an interested audience.


Unicode: An international standard for binary character set encoding of text in different languages.

UNIMARC A variation of MARC sponsored by IFLA - the IFLA Universal Bibliographic Control and International MARC Core Programme (

Unix: An operating system developed in the 1960's and a popular platform for Internet applications. Linux is closely modelled on Unix.

URI - Uniform Resource Identifier: A generalised format for resource identification. A URL is a specific implementation of a URI.

URL - Uniform Resource Locator: The address of a document or other Internet resource. A particular instance of a URN for purposes of web-based addressing.


W3C - The World Wide Web consortium: Responsible for publishing the WWW standards.

Web 2.0: The class of web-based services that deliver social networking and collaborative services on the web. This embrases a broad range of platforms such as FaceBook, Twitter, mash-ups using Web services.

Web Services: That set of protocols called “Web Services” which enable the discovery and integration of business functions (for use by applications) and accessible through the internet.

WSDL - Web Services Description Language: An ontological specification language for Web Services.

WYSIWYG - What You See is What You Get: Multimedia content is edited on-screen with the mark-up hidden and presented as it would be finally published.


XSL: A set of standards for transforming XML into some final form. XSL defines a scripting language for style sheets (XSLT) that can transform an XML mark-up format to another format based on transformational rules, with the source XML and XSLT style sheets defined by XPATH (the workflow language of XSL).

XML – Extensible Mark-up Language: A popular implementation of SGML used for information exchange.


Z39.50: A network-aware OSI-based search engine used to share Digital Library collections. It defines query language properties and methods for persistence of searches.

Further Reading and Resources

Document Delivery

Library Management and Services

  • AGORA (2011), Portal for Parliamentary Development, AGORA Partners, viewed 18 October 2011,
  • Alford, D. (2002), 'Negotiating and Analyzing Electronic License Agreements' Law Library Journal, 94(4): p. 621-644.
  • Ayre, C., & Muir, A. (2004), 'The Right to Preserve: The Rights Issues of Digital Preservation.' D-Lib Magazine, 10(3)(March).
  • Balnaves, E. (2008), 'Open source library management systems: a multidimensional evaluation.' Australian Academic and Research Libraries, 39(1): p. 1-13.
  • Cuninghame, K. (2009), Guidelines for Legislative Libraries, 2nd edition, De Gruyter Saur, Munich.
  • Ellis, S., Heaney, M., Meunier, P. & Poll, R. (2009), 'Global Library Statistics' IFLA Journal 35(2), p. 123-130, viewed 18 October 2011,
  • Keast, D., & Balnaves, E. (2009), 'Open source systems bring Web 2.0 to special libraries.' In International Conference of Medical Libraries, Brisbane, viewed 19 October 2011,
  • IFLA Statistics and Evaluation Section (2010), IFLA Library Statistics Manifesto, viewed 10 October 2011,
  • Missingham, R. (2011), 'Parliamentary library and research services in the 21st century: A Delphi study' IFLA Journal 37(1), p. 52-61.
  • Reference and User Services Association (2006), Reference and User Services Guidelines for introducing Electronic Info Resources to users, American Library Association, viewed 18 October 2011,
  • RUSA MARS/RSS Virtual Reference Committee (2010), Implementing and Maintaining Virtual Reference Services, American Library Association, viewed 18 October 2011,
  • Watt, I. (2010), 'Changing visions of parliamentary libraries: From the Enlightenment to Facebook' IFLA Journal 36(1), p. 47-60.


Cataloguing & Metadata


Electronic Resources

Library registries


Reference Desk Management



Service delivery

Software and resources

Digital Libraries

Document Delivery

Library Software and Systems

  • Balnaves, E. (2008), 'Open source library management systems: a multidimensional evaluation' Australian Academic and Research Libraries 39(1), p. 1-13.
  • Bülow, A.E. & Ahmon, J. (2011), Preparing Collections for Digitization Facet, London.
  • Breeding, M. (2008), 'Major Open Source ILS Products' Library Technology Reports 44(8) p. 16-31f.
  • Breeding, M. (2008), 'Open Source Library Automation: Overview and Perspective' Library Technology Reports 44(8) p. 5-10.
  • Breeding, M. (2011), Library Technology Reports, viewed 18 October 2011,
  • Chalon, P. X., Alexandre-Joaquim, L. et al. (2005), 'Open your mind! Selecting and implementing an integrated library system:the open-source opportunity' 10th European Conference of Medical and Health Libraries, Cluj-Napoca , Romania, 11th-16th September 2005.
  • Dorman, D. (2004), 'The Case for Open Source Software in the Library Market' Ubiquity 4(47).
  • 'Emilda' (2008), Realnode Ltd, viewed 18 January 2008,
  • 'Evergreen' (2008), Georgia Public Library Service, viewed 18 January 2008,
  • 'Gnuteca' (2008), Cooperativa de Soluções Livres, viewed 18 October 2011,
  • 'Koha' (2008), Koha Development Team and Katipo Communications Ltd, viewed 18 January 2008
  • 'PMB' (2008), PMB Services, viewed 18 January 2008,
  • Stevens, D. & Stetson, M. (2008), OpenBiblio, viewed 18 January 2008,

Reference Desk support

E-Resources and Open Access

Records Management software

Tools for the Systems Librarian

Single Sign On


Project management

Web 2.0 & Web Content Management

About Web 2.0

  • Ally, M. & Needham, G. (2010), M-libraries 2: A virtual library in everyone's pocket, Facet, London.
  • Blowers, H. (2007), Learning 2.0 : 23 things you can do to become web 2.0 savvy, viewed 19 October 2011,
  • Sayers, M. (2009), Searching 2.0, Facet, London.
  • Theimer, K. (2010), Web 2.0 Tools and Strategies for Archives and Local History Collections, Facet, London.

Web 2.0 Searching and RSS

Website content management


Accessibility testing

Export page to Open Document format

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