Monday, 8 March 2010

Access to Business Information 2

I recently blogged about the Business Information Resources Report funded by JISC as part of its Business and Community Engagement programme.

I mentioned that JISC has issued a call for projects which will demonstrate good practice in access to information resources for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and entrepreneurs, and also other individuals and organisations.

One concern I have is that the Business Information Resources report by Nigel Spencer points out that "The business information landscape is confusing and it is not clear where a business can find information." Public Libraries and business support agencies are already important sources of information and although I welcome the efforts of JISC to improve services to SMEs from higher education bodies I was worried that this might just increase the fragmentation. Simon Whittemore, Programme Manager, Business and Community Engagement at JISC has reassured me on this point. Pointing out that JISC of course can only directly fund HE/FE institutions he says:

'[W]e wouldn't have invested in this had we not believed that there are wider benefits in HE having a leading - or better termed 'facilitating' role in this joined up provision'

He continues:
"As you will have noted, the Access to Resources bids need to be collaborative, and need to put forward credible functional balanced partnerships which will deliver defined info and knowledge services in a controlled context. So we do expect public libraries and business support agencies to be strongly reflected in these partnerships, and certainly in the actual provision (potentially a 3 level model along the lines the Report suggested.)"

In our region we are fortunate that we have a local partnership in place that can respond to this sort of initiative. I have been in touch with the three Founding members of SINTO, (Sheffield Libraries, the University of Sheffield Library and Sheffield Hallam University Learning Centre) - and also the Department of Information Studies at the University of Sheffield, to suggest that we consider putting in a bid under this call. Obviously SINTO already exists but I think there is great scope for expanding what we do and presenting this as an exemplar project. I have not had a response yet but I do feel we are in a strong position to develop a service locally that could act as a guide nationally.

If any other SINTO members are also interested in this call please contact me.

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