Staff from EDCs around the UK gathered on 31 October for their annual meeting, held at the Representation of the European Commission in London.
The UK still has thirty two European Documentation Centres but only about fifteen of us were represented this year – perhaps reflecting the challenging times we live in. Indeed, we discussed these challenges in depth in the morning session – the outcome of the Pan-European Working Group report published in February 2016 on the Future of the EDC Network, the significant evolution of staffing activities, resource pressures and objectives of university libraries and, of course, possible implications of the UK leaving the EU in a year or two.
Despite these challenges, there was agreement that there were also opportunities for expert subject librarians who could help their users through the complexities of European information. In particular, that the process of the UK leaving the EU and the nature of our future necessary relationship with the EU would lead to much research and investigation by academics and the professions, which could profit from the expertise of EDC librarians. There was also a continued desire to network and cooperate within our UK EDC Network, as well as with our colleagues in other EU Member States.
In the afternoon we had a presentation from Jennie Grimshaw, the EDC Librarian at the British Library, about the desirability of setting up a UK EDC Network project to ensure the long term availability of a comprehensive paper collection of EU documentation in the UK, either centrally or on a dispersed but co-ordinated basis. This is a very necessary project, which goes in parallel with the recognition that EDCs in the future will be focusing more on offering ‘European information expertise’ rather than managing paper collections.
The Cardiff EDC offered two training inputs into the afternoon session. Frederico highlighted the value of the information products of the European Parliamentary Research Service. Ian discussed other current EU information developments, including features of the ‘new’ EUR-Lex, new services such as ORBIS, URBIS and FIND-eR, some proposed new information services being discussed within the EU Institutions such as new monitoring tools for legislative initiatives and delegated acts, and ended with the interesting new title called the EU Disinformation Review and Digest.