I was recently reading the EDINA Newsletter. EDINA, a JISC-funded national datacentre based at the University of Edinburgh, has announced its strategic plan for 2008-2011(PDF) and amongst its priorities are “improving engagement with our user communities” and “appropriate use of Web 2.0 social media and collaboration tools“.

It seems that EDINA has already started implementing these plans, as the newsletter also describes the EDINA Digimap blog which has been launched as a way of “exploring alternatives to email for distributing information about the service“. It is interesting to note that the blog is hosted on Blogspot. This strikes me as a sensible – rather than having to find technical expertise in-house to install and maintain blog software EDINA are using a well-established and mature externally-hosted service. It was also interesting to note that they are using Blogspot rather than WordPress. I suspect that, after lagging behind a few years ago, Blogspot may have caught up with WordPress in its functionality and ease-of-use.

The newsletter also mentioned that the Suncat service (the Serials Union Catalogue for the UK research community) now has a “search application that anyone on Facebook can easily add to their profile, enabling them to search for journals held in over 60 UK research libraries” – and if you have a Facebook account you may wish to try the application.

Externally-hosted blogs and Facebook applications – it does seem that EDINA is embracing Web 2.0. And reading the strategic plan for 2008-2011 (PDF format) it seems this decision was made in order to enhance accessibility of its services.  The plan describes how “EDINA recognises the growing user-base arising from delivery of service to a widening client community and integration with other environments, especially those using mobile technologies. In addition, the growth in popularity of Web 2.0 social media and collaboration tools is important for the support of learning and research activity.” I was also pleased to read that although EDINA is committed to improving the utility and usability of its services for “the full range of its users, including those with disabilities” EDINA has acknowledged that

adopting too conservative an approach risks disenfranchising many users and therefore EDINA will evaluate how its services can be presented and personalised to address changing information-seeking and user practices, including access through devices other than computer screens, such as PDAs and mobile phones.

It is good to see a national JISC service such as EDINA embracing Web 2.0 and making a commitment to enhancing the accessibility of its services by providing personalised services and supporting a variety of devices (and it is noticeable that no reference is made in the plan to achieving such accessibility be simply mandating WAI-compliance).