January 2010

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A step forward: from the physical to the digital library

Albert Basart Capmany and Lorena Pérez Méndez - Project manager of AQU Catalunya and collaborator of AQU catalunya

The new models for working with and producing information, influenced by a spectacular increase in electronic documentation and in digital publication and dissemination media, are causing organisations to undertake initiatives addressed to the management of documentary resources beyond the traditional library.

In recent months, AQU Catalunya has been preparing a repository of specialised electronic documents dealing with university quality which we have called the Digital Library. AQU Catalunya's Digital Library is integrated into the Agency's website and offers open access to the full text of all its documents.

Biblioteca d'AQU Catalunya

The contents of the Digital Library have been selected and organised in a structured way in order to be an indispensable source of information for everyone who is interested in the quality processes of AQU Catalunya. Moreover, it seeks to be a useful tool for the design of new activities and for training and the creation of knowledge within this field. Beyond the uses which are directly related to the activities unfolded by the Agency's staff and collaborators, it should be pointed out that the Digital Library probably represents the first resource of its kind in the field of university quality with open access to its documents. The aim of this is to make the AQU Catalunya website a reference in both our own most immediate sphere and in the European sphere at large, and to strengthen its visibility through new quality services.

At present the library is formed by 593 documents in diverse electronic formats, including 144 in Catalan, 225 in Spanish and 223 in English. To a lesser extent, the library also contains documents in French, German, Italian and Galician. In the first instance, Digital Library users will find all the electronic documents generated by AQU Catalunya as well as a large part of the content of other agencies, mainly from the European area. Other sources that have supplied documentation to the Digital Library are public administrations and governmental authorities (both domestic and international) and universities. This collection is totally integrated into the system and each item has an associated description and a preliminary analysis of its contents which allows its subsequent retrieval.

Users can access the documents in three different ways: by means of a simple search, using keywords; by means of an advanced search, which allows searching by title, author, document language, etc., or by means of a thematic taxonomy or classification that permits users to browse through categories and to access documents according to a thematic arrangement, providing them with an idea of the contents to be found at the library and an understanding of its organisation. This device is very useful for persons who are not acquainted with the library's holdings or who have difficulties in expressing their information needs.

The library will be accessible to everyone through the AQU Catalunya website. Nevertheless, the process of building this tool will not come to an end since it entails a substantial ongoing task of maintenance and improvement. Indeed, keeping the Digital Library updated is a major challenge, considering the output of new contents in the quality assurance sphere in our area. Notably included among the improvements envisaged in the short term is the thematic indexing to be made of the documents, which is necessary in order to allow the performance of advanced searches on the documents' subject matter. Actions are also foreseen to improve the simple search function and to broaden the availability of documentary resources through other electronic document formats.

The Digital Library is mainly addressed to the technical and academic personnel who carry out tasks relating to quality assurance in the fields of activity of the universities and of the university quality agencies. Consequently, it is our hope that the library will provide effective support for the work of all the people who are engaged in these fields and that it will grow through this collective endeavour over the course of time.


Generalitat de Catalunya

Via Laietana, 28, 5a planta 08003 Barcelona. Spain. Tel.: +34 93 268 89 50

© 2010 AQU Catalunya - Legal number B-21.910-2008