LIBECON is a project funded by the European Commission DG Information Society http://www.cordis.lu/ist/ka3/digicult/home.html under the 5th Framework Programme for research. It is currently funded until July 2004.
LIBECON works through a network of country coordinators to collect statistical data on libraries of all types in a standardised way using its own questionnaire which is based on the ISO 2789 standard International Library Statistics  and ISO 11620 [Library Performance Indicators]. LIBECON works closely with other stakeholders in the field including EBLIDA, ISO, IFLA, UNESCO and EUROSTAT. LIBECON surveys by statistical questionnaire responsible national statistical and professional bodies to obtain data aggregated at national level. The data is validated, standardised for an international audience, rapidly published on the web, commentated to draw attention to key trends and publicised widely.
The study adds value to the original source material by making it accessible, transparent and useful. The source material is often obscure and unknown outside its country and sector of origin so that researchers, policy makers and other users cannot easily obtain it. It is often available only in the original language which makes it inaccessible for many users. It needs to be as up to date as possible. It needs to be formulated to a common standard and free of errors. It needs to be grossed up in appropriate cases to produce valid trend lines. For financial data, currencies need to be standardised to allow comparisons between countries and over time. Producers and users of the data are relatively few and far between and benefit from contacts with each other which the web site facilitates. Above all, a commentary is needed which interprets the data and clarifies key trends.
LIBECON traces its origins back to 1986 when the [then] Directorate General 13 of the European Commission was undertaking the policy analysis which led to the Telematics for Libraries Programme. At that time there was no easily available source of up to date statistical and economic data on libraries in Europe. Accordingly, a study was commissioned and produced called “A Study of Library Economics in the European Community.” This was updated and extended to include not only EU countries but EFTA too in a publication entitled “Library economics in Europe: An Update-1981-90” [Ramsdale, Phillip. Library economics in Europe: An Update-1981-90. Luxembourg, Office for Official Publication of the European Communities, 1995. ISBN 92-826-9197-7.] As plans for enlargement of the Union gathered pace in the 1990s and DG13’s interest in the countries of Central and Eastern Europe grew, the study “Library Economics in Central and Eastern Europe” [Ramsdale, Phillip and Fuegi, David, Library Economics in Central and Eastern Europe. Luxembourg, Office for Official Publication of the European Communities, 1997. ISBN 92-828-1562-5.] was commissioned and published, providing data and commentary for an additional 10 countries. LIBECON2000 extended its scope to 29 European countries. Currently coverage is being extended to any country willing and able to provide data.
The contractor for LIBECON is IPF [Institute of Public Finance] http://www.cipfastats.net which undertakes a wide range of work including compiling and publishing statistics of all local government services in the UK on behalf of CIPFA [Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy] http://www.cipfa.org.uk/ which is the leading accountancy body for the public services in the UK. David Fuegi of MDR Partners http://www.mdrpartners.com/ assists IPF by providing commentary on the data and advice on professional developments. David is a Chartered Librarian and specialist in library statistics and performance and works on a number of European projects in the library field.