This report describes a British Library funded research project which investigated the provision of European information in public libraries in the United Kingdom, and in particular the implementation of the Public Information Relay - a European Commission initiative designed to bring EU information closer to the British public through the existing public library network. The key elements of the project included: a questionnaire-based survey of all public library authorities participating in the PIR (response rate: 117 out of 154, i.e. 76%), which examined past and present levels of European information provision, the manner in which the PIR service was being implemented, and any potential problems and solutions; a series of 8 case study visits to a representative sample of PIR members; and a survey of the European information needs of over 370 users in Aberdeen City, Glasgow City and Moray District Libraries. In addition, the project team organised a seminar, which was held at the Representation of the European Commission in London on 25th June 1996, and was attended by some 47 delegates from UK public library authorities and other interested parties, including the Society of Chief Librarians in England and Wales, the Scottish Library and Information Council, and the Library and Information Commission. The purpose of this event was to allow feedback and qualitative response from practitioners on the results of the project to date. The report discusses the background to the PIR and the literature to date, as well as the project's methodology and major findings. The project found that libraries were making very positive efforts to develop their European information services, but that there were concerns about the future development and resourcing of membership of the Relay. While the support of the European Commission was seen as valuable by respondents, the majority of libraries served a wider community of need than was envisaged by the remit of the PIR, in particular being heavily used for educational and business related purposes.
MARCELLA, R., BAXTER, G. and PARKER, S. 1996. European Union information in public libraries in the United Kingdom. British library research and innovation report number 19. London: British Library.