Located in Santa Maria da Feira, a city and municipality of Northern Portugal, the Biblioteca Municipal de Santa Maria da Feira serves a community of 140,000 citizens and is part of the Portuguese National Network of Public Libraries. Recently, Library Director Etelvina Araújo developed a strategic plan to strengthen the library's digital services and expand its target audience to include academic and professional users.
To support this goal, the library began subscribing to three EBSCO databases — Academic Search Complete, Business Source Complete and Engineering Source — and three EBSCO eBooks™ subscription collections.
A key goal in the library’s strategic plan is to respond to the needs of both actual and potential users. For this reason, Araújo and her team looked to acquire a comprehensive set of bibliographic resources targeted to academic users, such as university students and faculty, as well as professionals working in local and international enterprises. For example, the University of Porto and the University of Aveiro are located approximately 30 kilometers from the library, and Santa Maria da Feira itself offers higher education opportunities.
"Public libraries are support centers for formal and informal education, so the library collection has to reflect that mission,” said Araújo, pointing to the missions described in the IFLA-UNESCO Public Library Manifesto. “They should serve as spaces for not only reading and learning, but also culture, creativity and community.”
After conducting extensive user research, the library team developed a profile for potential academic and professional users. They then used the profiles to inform their e-resource evaluations. The team analyzed the database and e-book collections of several library vendors, in search of high-quality multidisciplinary content that would address the wide-ranging research needs of potentials users.
Ultimately, the library chose to subscribe to EBSCO’s Academic Search Complete, Business Source Complete and Engineering Source databases as well as three EBSCO eBooks subscription collections: Academic eBook Collection, Business eBook Collection and Engineering Core eBook Collection.
“EBSCO had the content and subjects that met the needs of our target group,” Araújo said.
For the next several months, librarians promoted the new EBSCO resources to library users and potential users through various institutional channels, including targeted email blasts, local news media announcements, social media posts and word of mouth.
After one year, Araújo looked at usage statistics and new reader registrations to see if the EBSCO resources were being used.
"We detected good traction with the target audience," Araújo said.
Benefits & Results
The success experienced by Biblioteca Municipal de Santa Maria da Feira, which was published on the National Network of Public Libraries website, has led other libraries in Portugal to contact Araújo and ask for her insights. Several have since become subscribers of EBSCO resources, too.
Araújo welcomes the idea that Biblioteca Municipal de Santa Maria da Feira can serve as a model for other libraries in Portugal.
“As public libraries, we should expand and diversify our information resources to align with the needs of our communities,” she said. “Libraries should be the local gateway to access information. They must fulfill the missions inscribed in the IFLA/UNESCO Manifesto — to facilitate access to all their services either through digital platforms or through outreach projects.”