ESO for the EDC Network

Cardff EDC

European Sources Online (ESO) and European Documentation Centres (EDCs)

In 2012 a new stage in the evolution of European Sources Online (ESO) is beginning. A pilot project for the period July to December 2012 has been launched whereby a group of twenty EDCs from across the EU will explore ways for ESO to evolve into an EDC Network information service.

The editorial base for ESO (and its predecessor information services European Access, European Access Plus and KnowEurope) has always been the European Documentation Centre (EDC) at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom.

The Executive Editor of ESO is Ian Thomson, who is also the Director of the Cardiff EDC and President of the European Information Association. Until 2006 ESO was published by the commercial publisher ProQuest. Since 2006 ESO has been published on a non-profit basis by the Cardiff EDC. Over the years, a small number of colleagues working in other EDCs in the EU and elsewhere have helped with some of the editorial work of ESO.

Many EDCs throughout the EU subscribe to ESO. There are various ways to find information about the European Union and the issues, regions, countries and other international organisations of Europe. However, ESO is particularly suited to helping the users of EDCs find relevant, specialised, up-to-date information from a very wide range of quality information sources. In addition, the unique ESO Information Guides created by ESO editorial staff are also particularly aimed at EDC users. They can be used to answer enquiries and aid revision for many users of EDCs throughout the EU.

Click on the link below to find presentations describing the content and features of ESO. These guides are available in a number of European languages in addition to English.

Guides to using European Sources Online

ESO, EDCs and the future

EDCs face a challenge in the 21st century to retain their relevance as more information is freely and easily accessible electronically. In addition, the staff responsible for EDCs in university libraries and other organisations often have very limited time to develop new services for their users. Consequently, the EDC Network is at somewhat of a crossroads.

Nevertheless, many students, researchers and others can benefit from the expertise of EDCs in new and innovative ways. EDCs could co-operate together across national boundaries, for example, to produce added value pan-European information services. By working together as a functioning EDC Information Network on various co-operative initiatives, individual EDCs can add value to their work and more effectively help their users.

In this context, Ian Thomson, Executive Editor of ESO and Director of the Cardiff EDC, would like to see ESO evolve to become a model of a pan-European added value EDC network information service.

ESO can be seen as an ideal prototype of such EDC network co-operation. It is already a fully functioning, up-to-date and large European information service. To have a significant number of EDCs throughout the EU (and the related EU-i information centres outside the EU) actively contributing to ESO with a small amount of editorial work would:

  • significantly enhance the editorial quality and quantity of ESO.
  • indicate that the EDC network can adapt to changing times and show its continued relevance.

In return, ESO would be freely available to all users of the institutions of the contributing EDCs.

What type of editorial input could EDC personnel contribute? Editorial work might include:

  • creating index / bibliographic records to relevant information sources, with hyperlinks to the full text of the information.
  • creating and / or revising ESO Information Guides on a regular basis
  • dealing with broken hyperlinks in the service
  • translation work

This would be an ambitious project, which will need careful consultation, planning and implementation. Inevitably, there will be challenges and issues to deal with. One issue is language. ESO has always been an English language service, albeit offering access to information and perspectives from all of Europe. Whether ESO should evolve to embrace other European languages is inevitably an issue to be discussed. Already in 2012 some ESO Information Guides have been translated into other European languages and Guides to ESO are available in over twenty languages.

It is proposed that a new ESO Editorial Board be established to reflect the wider EDC network contribution to ESO.

Pan-European Working Group on Electronic Repositories

In 2010 the department within DG Communication of the European Commission responsible for the Europe Direct Information Network established three new Pan-European Working Groups (PEWGs). One of these PEWGs was tasked with investigating the issue of European Electronic Repositories and the potential of EDCs in this area (PEWG-ER).

ESO Executive Editor Ian Thomson became a member of this PEWG in the summer of 2010. Following an initial overview of the existing situation during the autumn of 2010 a first meeting of the PEWG-ER took place in Brussels on 17-18 November. Five existing ‘repositories’ with varying EDC involvement were examined, one of which was European Sources Online.

Work Plan for 2011

Out of the meeting came a Work Plan for 2011 which said:

The Pan-European Working Group on European Electronic Repositories (PEWG-ER) considers it worthwhile to further explore the potential:

  • to give the EDC Network a much needed renewed relevance for the 21st century
  • to develop pan-European co-operation across the Network
  • to create new added-value European information services for researchers and citizens in Europe

whilst recognising the need for any proposals to be

  • pragmatic and practical in their resource needs
  • sensitive to existing repository projects
  • collaborative in nature
  • aware of the multilingual dimension of the EU.

To explore the potential of creating an EDC Network Information Portal (ENIP) comprising:

  1. Access to a repository of relevant information for the EDC Network utilising existing partial repositories such as ArchiDok, Portuguese European Gateway, Ketlib, Archive of European Integration (AEI), European Research Papers Archive (ERPA), CADMUS, and to consider the future relationship between this initiative and ECLAS, DRIVER and the EUI.
  2. An EDC Network European Information Service based upon the evolution of European Sources Online (ESO) becoming a free access service serving the entire EDC Network.

To explore the editorial, technical, economic, copyright, managerial and linguistic aspects of this proposal, acknowledging the resources constraints within which EDCs work.

To invite a member of the European Commission ECLAS Team to work with the PEWG-ER to explore the potential for collaboration between ENIP and ECLAS to realise the aspirations of the PEWG-ER.

To establish two Sub-Groups of the PEWG-ER to work on developing the two strands of ENIP. The members of the two groups would work virtually utilising the Europe Direct Intranet Forum to produce two papers to be submitted to the entire Group by 11 March 2011.

Following consultation of the entire PEWG-ER the proposals would be submitted for comment by the full EDC Network during May-June 2011 through dissemination of the finding through the Intranet and by members of the PEWG-ER speaking at EDC national Meetings and disseminating information to EDCs in their country.

The objective would be to be able to bring to the Second Annual Meeting of the PEWG-ER in the autumn of 2011 a firm set of proposals to establish ENIP for consideration.

Developments in 2011 and 2012

EDCs were circulated with a questionnaire in the spring of 2011 seeking their opinions on the concept of a greater EDC Network involvement in ESO. The results showed that a number were interested to explore the potential and implications of such a project. The results of the survey can be seen by those with access to the Europe Direct Intranet

The proposal was discussed at a meeting of the members of the PEWG-ER, the EDC National Co-ordinators and DG COMM in Malta on 8 November 2011. Out of that meeting came a decision that a pilot project should be planned for 2012. A group of twenty EDC documentalists joined Ian Thomson in Brussels on 22 May 2012 for a training session on contributing to ESO and a discussion as to how the project should evolve. The ESO training was intended for people who are interested to take an active part in the next stage of the pilot project.

The objectives of the training were:

  • to learn in detail about the features and functionality of ESO
  • to learn in detail how to add data to ESO (creating index records / creating and revising ESO Information Guides, etc)
  • to form a provisional new ESO Editorial Board, which will discuss the future evolution of ESO and what type of work contributors will be asked to to undertake in detail. It will also decide on the future inclusion of non-English information in ESO.

Since then, twenty EDCs have signed up to contribute to the Pilot Project in the period July – December 2012.

Further information

If you would like any further information on the ESO - EDC Network Pilot Project please contact us at

Ian Thomson
ESO Executive Editor
Last revised: July 2012