Special user groups: an impetus to development
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Being the only veterinary library in a country means that all users involved in any aspect of animal health turn up in the library with their special needs. A university library is calibrated for the needs of professors and students, but it is far from satisfactory for other user groups: researchers, dealers of veterinary drugs or feeds, officers of the animal health administration, zoologists, or even the practicing veterinarians. Results of a pilot survey will be presented that was made in preparation of a more wide scale investigation into the information needs and use of various groups of users and (even more important) non-users to be carried out in October-November 2003. Reference questions, received personally by the Reader's Service during the past three years, or through the homepage integrated search engine are also analyzed. The library has been building a homepage with an increasing amount of information content for three years, and has elaborated its digitization strategy taking the intentions of authorities (the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, and the Ministry of Informatics and Communications) into account. We try to match or confront the two sides: needs and possibilities in order to find ways to improve our electronic services and to increase their use. Our homepage is the most important means of providing electronic services, we focus on its (bilingual) development. Electronic services are rather expensive in terms of money or labour, and the use groups requiring some of them may be small, costs and benefits should always be considered carefully. However, the cost/benefit ration may be improved by good marketing.