University of Leoben

Using standards quickly and easily

Together with Austrian Standards, committed representatives of the university library developed an innovative solution for optimally integrating a great number and variety of standards into university operations.

When they hear about libraries, many people think of dignified "temples of knowledge" that collect, preserve and manage staggering amounts of books, folios and documents. However, a modern library, especially a scientific university library, has much more extensive tasks. Owing to the fundamental change in media and information technologies, libraries successfully transformed into customer-oriented service centres whose core task is to organize and provide access to knowledge.

The library of the University of Leoben located in the city Leoben in Styria, is such a modern institution. Established in Vordernberg (Styria) in 1840, "Alma Mater Leobiensis" is Austria's only university for mining, metallurgy and materials. Around 3,500 students are enrolled in ten fields of study. The spectrum ranges from mechanical engineering to metallurgy and from mineral resources engineering and materials science to petroleum engineering and finally, from industrial energy technology to industrial environmental protection. The quality of the education provided and the career opportunities of the young engineers are regularly given top ratings both by students and employers. That is definitely owed to the expertise of the scientific staff of around 800 people. Easy access to knowledge certainly also makes a major contribution to this achievement.

Slamenik and Knabl from university Leoben.

"The library of the University of Leoben currently has 270,000 monographs, 560 printed and 4,100 electronic journals. In addition to the main library, we manage the geoscience library, the plastics library, the library of the Raw Materials and Materials Science Centre as well as 27 other department libraries."  This offering is used with great interest by teachers and students alike. "Being knowledge managers, the librarians of my team are responsible for administration and for ensuring quick, user-friendly access to the library's content," explains Dr. Christian Hasenhüttl, the head of the library.

"Apart from personal queries, we recorded almost 220,000 visits to the electronic resources of the library. Journals were accessed 125,000 times, almost 40,000 e-books were retrieved and more than 52,000 database searches were performed," says Christian Slamenik.

Standards for education and research

The technical focus of numerous degree programmes also necessitates that students are familiar with current standards and regulations. Due to the complex requirements of education and research tasks, numerous standards have to be acquired. In the past, the individual institutes usually purchased the standards they needed on an ad-hoc basis and archived them on their premises. As a rule, the library was not involved so that the standards were not accessible for "outsiders". Targeted version management was indeed impossible. "Of course, this situation was inacceptable for the scientific activities at the university in the long term. Therefore, we contacted Austrian Standards in order to find a modern solution," explains Dolores Knabl.

The first solution was the Reading Room. This software offered by Austrian Standards allows users to search for standards and read the documents in a new way. Moreover, it enabled the University of Leoben to compile its own standards portfolio covering diverse subject fields and to have it automatically updated on a regular basis. It gave everybody working and studying at the University access to the national, European and international standards they needed. So far, so good. But the Styrian customer wanted to have more.

"Our campus is rather small. Therefore, we know the needs of our students and staff very well. Very soon, we noticed that our requirements exceeded the capabilities of the Reading Room and communicated this issue to our partners at Austrian Standards. In fact, our (standards) portfolio continuously grew and also extended to international standards that are not included in the Reading Room," states Dolores Knabl.

Reading Room plus "effects"

"This functionality is available in effects 2.0," explains Andreas Cepnik, key account manager at Austrian Standards. "At that time, however, there was no link between the Reading Room and effects 2.0. We defined that connector together with our customer and subsequently developed it." The solution currently used by the University of Leoben hardly leaves anything to be desired. "On the one hand, we have the Reading Room ensuring fast and broad online access for students and, on the other hand, we can offer the university's teachers and researchers further options through 'effects'," Christian Slamenik expresses his satisfaction. "The success of this service shows that we were right. This offering has become well-established and is highly appreciated, which is evidenced by the high number of people using our tailor-made standards service every day. Again and again, the users tell us how great it is to access standards in such an easy and uncomplicated way and to know that everything is perfectly legal."

The University of Leoben is a successful example illustrating how Austrian Standards co-operates with its customers in finding the optimum solution. Of course, such applications are "work in progress" also in the field of standardization, and the future will bring numerous requests and new challenges. Therefore, awareness of mutual requirements needs to be improved.

For this reason, Austrian Standards will provide information on the fundamental principles, development processes and the future of standardization at the University of Leoben at the beginning of the academic year 2013/2014.