Web Magazine for Information Professionals

FIDDO: Focused Investigation of Document Delivery Options

Anne Morris, project manager, describes a project from the Supporting Studies area of the eLib programme.

The FIDDO Project is studying options, methods and the management of document delivery. The principal aim is to disseminate reliable and objective data to enable library and information managers to make informed decisions about the feasibility, selection and implementation of electronic and other document delivery services within their own institutions.

A range of issues, challenges and decisions confront the manger of the modern library and information service. The pressure to use dwindling resources more economically, the growth in numbers and variety of information users, and the demand for a 'customer based culture' all converge to present a formidable burden. Moreover, what is almost always lacking for effective management is reliable, timely and complete information on which to base judgements.

Within this context and the growing power and availability of information technology, various forms of electronic document provision have been developed, ranging from single article delivery to complete electronic journals. The technical feasibility of electronic document delivery is no longer in doubt - the technology exists to enable a variety of delivery mechanisms not only to libraries but, increasingly, direct to the end user. However, while technology has forged ahead, economic and human factors considerations have lagged behind. FIDDO seeks to redress this imbalance.

The project will include a comparative assessment of existing and potential services together with 'traditional modes'; evaluation of their impact on library policies and operations, and the response of end-users. In addition to desk research, the project will be undertaking 'live' testing of services. The testing will initially focus on the delivery of engineering documents in four collaborating academic libraries acting as test sites but this will be later extended to cover a range of subjects and sites.

The project began on November 1st 1995. Research so far has included surveys and an extensive literature review to identify the document delivery services currently available together with past and present research projects in this field. The information available to-date can be found at the FIDDO General Advice Point which is located at the following URL address:


In addition to a project description, the General Advice Point currently contains detailed information about commercial document delivery services, projects and services under development, relevant discussion lists and FAQs. The contents will be expanded, to contain a 'what's new' section, for example, and up-dated throughout the life of the project. Specific questions, queries or comments relating to the Advice Point should be sent to either Sandra Price (s.p.price@lboro.ac.uk) or Mandy Webster (m.webster@lboro.ac.uk).

A workshop/ seminar for library managers on document delivery, offering practical advice on setting-up and developing services, will also be held in Autumn 1996. This will be followed by other workshops and the preparation of a set of guidelines for library managers intending to implement electronic document delivery services.