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 Ian Thomson

Ian Thomson

Director, European Documentation Centre


I am a librarian and European information specialist who has worked in European affairs for over thirty years.

Currently, I am the Director of the European Documentation Centre at Cardiff University (Cardiff EDC) and Executive Editor of European Sources Online.
Until the end of 2012 I was also a Consultant to the Enterprise Europe Network, Wales and President of the European Information Association.

Whilst working as a researcher to a Member of the European Parliament in 1980 I created European Access, which became the leading bibliographic service for European information in the 1980s and 1990s. 

Later, under my continuing editorship, an electronic version, European Access Plus, was launched, as was a new information service called KnowEurope (now known as European Sources Online).

European Sources Online, a web-based European information service, is a leading specialist information service that focuses on providing information about Europe. 

Originally published by ProQuest Information and Learning until June 2006, it is now published by Cardiff University Press as an activity of the Cardiff EDC within the University Library Service. Since 2014 ESO has been a free access service.

I am the author of the standard reference book 'The Documentation of the European Communities' (Mansell, 1989). I have also published a large number of articles in professional journals during my career.

Consultancy work

I have carried out consultancy work for the Wales European Centre, the International Monetary Fund, World Bank and European Commission. During 2009 I acted as an 'Expert' for the European Economic and Social Committee advising on the development of the EESC Library. In December 2010 I advised the multinational pharmaceutical company MSD on EU information matters, and has carried out a similar activity for PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

Ian was invited to present a paper ‘50 Years of European Documentation Centres’ at the EDC Training Seminar in Brussels in December 2013 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the EDC network in 1963.


Honours and awards

I was winner of the European Special Librarian of the Year Award 1994, presented by theEuropean Chapterof theSpecial Libraries Association.

Professional memberships

In 2010 I was selected to join the European Commission DG Communication's new Pan-European Working Group (PEWG) looking into the issue of electronic depositories and the potential for the network of European Documentation Centres to cooperate on initiatives in this area. 

As an outcome of the PEWG I am now leading a project involving EDC personnel from across the EU contributing to the editorial work of ESO. 

A second PEWG for EDCs was established in 2012 and I was selected as a member with a particular focus on the role of social media in the work of EDCs. 

I was also selected to be the UK representative on the Third PEWG in 2015, on the future of the EDC Network.

Speaking engagements

I was invited to present a paper ‘50 Years of European Documentation Centres’ at the EDC Training Seminar in Brussels in December 2013 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the EDC network in 1963.


I direct and present papers at a large number of training courses and conferences on European topics throughout the world, in the United States, Canada and Australia and in most European countries. 

I have regular teaching and training assignments at the College of Europe, Natolin, Poland and the European Institute of Public Administration, Maastricht, the Netherlands. I have also worked at the Universities of Zagreb in Croatia and Örebro in Sweden. 

In March 2015 I spoke to graduates at the 10th Annual Graduate Student Conference on the European Union held at the University of Pittsburgh, USA.

I also provide information training and lectures for the European Commission in Brussels and throughout the rest of Europe. Since 2005 I have lectured and trained in Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Spain and Sweden, as well as the UK.

Since 2013 I have particularly focused on providing training to legal practitioners and law librarians. This has included workshops for the Scottish Law Librarians Group in Edinburgh in 2013, in Ireland forBIALL Ireland and The Law Library in 2014, and to the American Association of Law Libraries in Philadelphia in 2015. I have been asked to provide workshops in March 2016 for BIALL in Bristol and for the Irish law practice Arthur Cox in Dublin. I have also provided bespoke courses for international law practice DLA Piper in Manchester and Germany’s leading research organisation, the Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law in Heidelberg.

In the United Kingdom I have directed courses for many organisations, including BIALL, ASLIB, the Network of Government and Library Information Specialists (NGLIS), the National School of Government, the Standing Committee on Official Publications (SCOOP), as well as the European Information Association (EIA).

Training journalists

The training of journalists and student journalists in European affairs has also become a particular focus of my activities over the years. 

For many years since 2006 I have been asked to present the EU module on a Masters in Global Journalism for journalists from across the world at the University of Örebro, Sweden. This is now a regular biannual assignment. 

In the summer of 2008 I trained young journalists from Northern Europe at the European Summer Academy held at the Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania. 

I also contribute to a course for trainee journalists and media professionals at the School of Journalism and Media Studies at Cardiff University and have taught at the European Journalism Centre in Maastricht. A number of interns at the Cardiff EDC have also gone into media-related careers.