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Telematics for Libraries - Projects


Updated: 23 APR 98

Project Number and Title
3012 - Decision making in libraries; decision research for the development of integrated library systems
Programme/Action line Call Topic(s) Start End Project Duration
in Months
FP 3/ IV Theme 18 bis January 1995 May 1997
decision support system; performance measurement/indicators; library management

blue bullet Additional Information is available from the DECIMAL web site . (

Models and tools to support decision making in libraries (Theme 18 bis)
Project description
The aim of the project was to develop a commercially viable decision support module for integration into established library management systems. The partners undertook a programme of collaborative research investigating the needs and practices of decision makers in small to medium size libraries in a range of sectors and cultural milieus. A user requirements specification (URS) was developed from this research, followed by a design for a technical architecture and the development of an integrated decision support module. The module was evaluated for its effectiveness in supporting the decision making processes in small to medium size libraries.
Technical approach
The approach involved a basic research phase followed by prototyping and product development and concluding with a structured evaluation phase. The harmonisation and convergence of national and Europe-wide policies for decision support for libraries was also encouraged through the project.
The work was undertaken in three main phases:
  • RESEARCH PHASE to assess the requirements and use made of decision support systems, management information systems, quality assurance methods and performance indicators in European libraries;
    • Needs analysis;
    • User requirements specification;
  • TECHNICAL PHASE including the specification and development of the prototype;
    • Design of technical architecture;
    • Development of decision support modules;
    • Evaluation and testing;
    • Project reporting.
Information was disseminated at specially convened workshops, at conferences and at other events, throughout all project phases.
Key Issues
The project complemented other ongoing work on performance indicators and built on research (oriented towards exporting data to external packages and providing analyses) in large academic libraries by:
  • Addressing decision support needs in libraries, particularly in the more fragmented small to medium sized sector;
  • Examining the usability of operational transaction processing data fed into library management systems, in enhancing the decision making process at all levels;
  • Determining the more qualitative requirements for incorporation into a decision support module, taking into account how and why librarians make decisions, what decisions they have to make and how they are affected by social, political, financial, human and environmental problems;
  • Undertaking the project in three member states, to give a cross-cultural perspective and provide a comprehensive approach to requirements.
DECIMAL adopted appropriate open standards for database development, prototyping tools, interface design and for querying functions.
Impact and expected results
Through the development and testing of a decision support module for integration into an established library management system DECIMAL has added to the understanding of operational, tactical and strategic decision making in libraries, notably in those of a small to medium size.
It also provided an opportunity for enhancement of management skills in libraries throughout Europe.
In addition, it implemented decision making modules in a prototype system with commercial potential.
The primary deliverable is the decision support module prototype. The technical specification and evaluation of that module are classified as restricted, but within the public domain are:
  • State-of-the-art review;
  • Integration research report;
  • User requirements specification;
  • Technical design document;
  • Final report.
Documentation is available from the contact below and from .


Name of Institution/Organisation Postal Code / City Country
Manchester Metropolitan University UK - MANCHESTER M15 6LL UK
Title, First Name, Name Ms J.Siân Lambert,
Address: Department of Information and Communication
Geoffrey Morton Building, Rosamond Street West, off Oxford Road
Tel: +44-161-247-6157 Fax: +44-161-247-6351
E-mail 1: E-mail 2:
for documentation

Other Partners

Name of Institution/Organisation Country Role
Inheritance Systems UK P
University College, Oxford UK P
Universitat de Barcelona ES P
Università de Parma IT P

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