Denmark's Electronic Research Library (DEFF in Danish) is a co-operation organization for Danish reseach libraries. In early 2004 a new vision and mission formed the basis of a new strategy, and an action plan for 2004/5 was developed. DEFF's main target group is researchers, lecturers and students at institutions of higher or further education, and research institutions in the public sector.
One of the most important results of the activities over the years is the achieved level of library co-operation. All participants have learned to seek cooperation in areas such as operation and development in order to avoid duplicating work and to increase the value of individual efforts. An important area for co-operation is the evaluation of services through user surveys and usability tests, and these have been carried out for several years.
In the DEFF framework several evaluations examine the impact of electronic services on users, and this paper describes a large user survey from 2003 of three big Danish university libraries and usability tests of the websites of 11 of the biggest research libraries in Denmark.
The user survey exploits the European Customer Satisfaction Index (ECSI) model, which is a standardized instrument for measurement and can be used by different libraries across types and countries. At the same time it is a unique platform for benchmarking and a tool for prioritizing activities for improvement. It can even be used for comparison of results across libraries and other sectors (compared to banks, supermarkets etc.).
The usability tests of the websites of 11 of the biggest Danish research libraries are based on user interviews and user behaviour studies. Again the tests can give the individual university library important information about how to improve the value of the electronic library services to the users.
User survey and usability test co-operation
As mentioned above, one important area for co-operation is the evaluation of services through user surveys and usability tests. The specific reasons for co-operation are:
• Better exploitation of resources. There is increasing economy of scale in nearly all phases of the implementation of user surveys and usability tests. As an example, typically the libraries will get more value for money by co-operating on a standardized questionnaire with local adjustments.
• Better results. The libraries can demand a tailor-made product of higher quality, when the task reaches a certain size.