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Creating a Successful e-information Service

Sheila Pantry and Peter Griffiths


Facet Publishing (formerly Library Association Publishing)



192 pp


ISBN 1 85604 442 4

North American Edition

Edited by William Oldfield


Scarecrow Press, Inc. (Rowman & Littlefield, Inc.)

October 2003


160 pp


ISBN 0-8108-4778-7


All successful LIS practitioners need constantly to reassess how effective their information services are and to ascertain if they are really delivering the services which are needed by users. This book is essential reading for anyone wishing to establish an electronic information service whatever the LIS background or size. It is also essential for those who wish to revamp an existing traditional service into an e-information service.

Because of new technology it is no longer necessary to think of an information service in a particular physical location with staff actually working at that location, or open during set hours. Instead the book will give ideas and examples of how an e-information service can be created, maintained and succeed in a cost effective way.

The book’s content covers these key areas and questions:

  • introducing the concept of the e-information service
  • what kind of information service do you want to provide?
  • where are the customers?
  • what kind of information do they need and in which format?
  • creating your e-information service and ensuring accessibility
  • budgeting for your e-information service
  • keeping in touch with the customers
  • keeping one step ahead of the competitors
  • training of users and meeting user needs.

This book is a must for any LIS professional who needs to implement and deliver a successful e-information service.


This is yet another paperback recently published by Facet Publishing – formerly known as Library Association Publishing. Facet Publishing aims to understand “the importance of providing dynamic, relevant and up-to-date books for information professionals wherever they may be” and the current glut of useful books emanating from this publisher certainly seems to bear this out.

Creating a Successful E-information Service has been written by two people with a wealth of experience in managing library and information services and their experiences have been distilled into the text of this book. Pantry now runs a consultancy service and electronic publishing business, having worked for many years in the UK’s Health and Safety Executive, and Griffiths is Assistant Director, Communication Directorate at the UK Government’s Home Office. Pantry and Griffiths have collaborated on a number of other books also published by Facet, including Becoming a Successful Intrapreneur and The Complete Guide to Preparing and Implementing Service Level Agreements.

As stated on the back cover of Creating a Successful E-information Service “to be successful, LIS managers constantly need to reassess the effectiveness of their information services and to be sure that they are really delivering the services needed by their users”. With the massive developments in electronic information sources this is more relevant today than ever. The aim of this book, therefore, is to provide the reader with useful ideas, hints and tips to be used when developing electronic information services (EIS).

The book is structured into eight chapters entitled: Introducing the concept of the e-information service; What kind of e-information service do you want to provide? Where are the customers? What kind of information do your customers need? Who needs to be involved in your plans? Budgeting for your e-information service; Keeping in touch with your customers; Keeping ahead of your competitors. Each chapter also has a clear structure which is outlined at the start of each chapter and so the whole is commendably easy to read and work through. I was, however, surprised not to find much information included in Creating a Successful E-information Service on the provision of e-information services to visually impaired and other disabled users.

Following the main text (of 134 pages) there is, to my mind, a rather strange section entitled Glossary of sample electronic services – note, these are confusingly not called e-information services. The chosen services include a number which are provided nationwide for the UK higher and further academic community via the Joint Information Services Committee (JISC) such as:

  • Athens (, which is an authentication management service.
  • DNER – Distributed National Electronic Resource (, which was a “vision” of the JISC and which has, since the book has been published, changed direction.
  • HERON – Higher Education Resources (, a service for copyright clearance, digitisation and delivery of book extracts and journal articles.
  • NESLI – National Electronic Site Licensing Initiative ( for providing an e-journal service to the UK higher and further academic community.

It might have been more useful to have had case studies of specific e-information services in organisations which were the result of a reassessment of previous information services rather than brief descriptions of UK-based national services.

The final 12 pages cover a good set of current references and further readings from a range of sources (including Program) to support statements made in the text. There is also a subject index.

This book certainly keeps up the Facet aim of being dynamic, relevant and up to date.

Lucy A. Tedd, Lecturer, Department of Information Studies, University of Wales Aberystwyth, UK
Program: Electronic Library and Information systems, Vol. 37, No. 2, May 2003

When thinking about this review I started by jotting down a list of words to describe the book. Included in this list were: practical, informative, clear, useful, interesting, and concise. As a Librarian in the process of attempting to create an electronic information service I found this text an invaluable resource. In terms of layout, each chapter begins with a list of objectives and issues that will be covered, and ends with a clear and concise summary. This enables the reader to dip into the book, selecting sections or issues that are more relevant to their particular situation. The book does not cover one particular sector of the LIS world, but provides general frameworks and raises issues that are relevant across the board. The book starts by introducing the concept of the e-information service and forces the reader to ask a number of questions, such as ‘what type of e-information service do I want to create?’ and ‘what do my ‘customers’ require?’ A section I found really useful provided basic tips on how to undertake an information audit and how to utilise the results. The book moves on to look at issues such as how to involve other key players in the e-information service development, how to put together a business case and budget to achieve your goals, how to market and implement your service, and how to monitor and evaluate the end result.

Overall this book provides an excellent framework for creating and maintaining an e-information service. It provides a practical step-by-step guide, raising questions that need to be asked and warning of problems that, if ignored, could result in failure. It is full of examples and case studies of existing electronic services and useful references for those who want to investigate further. The only negative point I could find was the fact that some of the electronic web resources listed in the references were no longer active. Although frustrating, this just reinforces the fact that the electronic information world is a fast moving place. This book is definitely a great starting point for anyone interested in creating an electronic information service. It is not a heavy text, but more a ‘how to’ guide, which provides useful and practical advice and tips. It is something that will be on my desk for a long time to come!

Clare Swanson, General Teaching Council
ELG News, Spring 2003

Developing an e-information service

This could almost be categorised as an addictive read. Clear and concise, yet with sufficient detail, it presents new ideas – and old ones in a different style. The authors manage to capture the needs of large and small services.

It is essential to define the alternative strategies and the skills required to build an e-information service. We need to analyse where the customers are, what they need, and who else in the organisation should be involved. Ways of maximising budgets are suggested. Keeping in touch is part of customer service and staying ahead of the competition is the final necessity.

Each chapter is clearly presented and has a summary. The whole is based on pointing you towards good practice, not telling you how to do it. This is more an ideas book than a text but anyone reading it will finish with a clear concept of how they should approach the task, in their organisation.

Whether the guidance will allow them to meet customer requirements more rapidly, without increasing costs, is arguable, but it will certainly assist the busy information manager pick up and implement new ideas. Well worth the money.

Valerie J. Nurcombe, Winsford, Cheshire
Update, Vol. 2, No. 3, March 2003, p. 61

THIS IS a useful practical text aimed at anyone who is considering establishing an electronic information service. It is appropriate for the practitioner librarian, information professional or any manager who can see the potential benefits to be gained by providing electronic access to information. It will also be of interest to students studying information and business related subjects.

Although the book is clearly about creating and providing an e-information service, the emphasis is not simply on libraries. Interestingly, the book has a strong business focus and this is effectively established in the first two chapters and sets the scene well for what is to come. The need to consider the potential users of the e-information service is emphasised and also the role it can play in helping achieve business objectives. It is therefore relevant to any organisation of any size, and although perhaps more easily applicable to those wanting to develop an existing information service into an e-information service, this book is also a useful tool for those creating an e-information service from scratch.

A breakdown of the chapters reveals the focus of the book clearly, considering such issues as: what type of e-information service you want to provide, who are your customers and where are they, what information do they need, who needs to be involved in the nitty-gritty of setting up and implementing your e-information service, budgeting and costs, monitoring the service, customer care, and how to keep ahead of your competitors.

One of the strengths of the book is that the authors focus on the different elements that are involved and what must be considered in order to establish an effective e-information service, and so it has a very practical ‘how to’ feel about it. The issues covered are effectively underpinned with practical guidance and advice, such as how to devise a business plan and how to conduct information audits and user studies to enable you to develop a successful e-information service. Although the authors consider what might be included in such an e-information service (things like e-journals, e-books, databases, multimedia products, image collections, reference sources like directories and encyclopedias, current awareness, news, financial data, legislation and access to software packages), it is the ‘how to’ approach that makes it a really useful book.

The book is written and presented in a very simple and clear way. Usefully, each chapter begins with a concise summary of its content, making it easy for the reader to determine the relevance of each section, and thus quick and easy to use in the everyday chaos of our working lives. The index is very small but as chapter summaries are provided, it is less likely that you will need to use it to any great extent. A detailed bibliography is included which is clearly structured by chapter and subject and is useful, enabling the reader to investigate related issues. However, some references are a little vague and there are also quite a few web sites listed (without details of when they were accessed) and it is likely that a number of these will undoubtedly change over time. A glossary is included which introduces a few real life examples of e-information services and investigations and these are useful to provide context.

All organisations are information based and so this is a handy practical guide which will be extremely useful for anybody (literally) who is considering making information available electronically and establishing an e-information service.

Sarah Rudge, Lecturer, School of Information Studies, University of Central England
Managing Information, Vol. 10, No. 1, Jan/Feb 2003, p. 53


Sheila Pantry OBE BA FCLIP manages an independent information services consultancy and electronic publishing business, including websites. She has had a long and varied career in information management in a range of industry sectors, and also in government as Head of Information Services for the Health and Safety Executive. She specializes in worldwide occupational health and safety information and is an experienced trainer, writer, editor, lecturer and conference organiser.

Peter Griffiths is an independent information specialist with particular interest in library and information services, knowledge management and wider aspects of information management in the public sector. He was previously Head of Information at the Home Office, a role that included being head of profession for librarians, information scientists and latterly records managers across the Home Office group. He is an experienced trainer, writer and speaker. Peter is currently 2009 President of CILIP, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.

Available at a 20% discount to Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals members.
Remember to quote your Membership Number if claiming the discount.
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