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Keeping the Ministry on the Right Page
On the 14th floor of an office tower at the heart of the Hague’s political district, Ronald Loeff and Els Alebregtse are on the hunt for fresh insights.
As information experts at the special library for the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sports, their task is to provide input to ministry civil servants so they can live up to the ministry motto: The Netherlands Healthy and Well.
“We read a lot. We have to find the right input: new findings, reports, books, statistics and academic papers,” Els Alebregtse explains.
The Ministry’s mission is to keep everyone healthy as long as possible. It’s an important job – encompassing serious issues such as alcohol and drugs, drug approval policies, food safety, quality in healthcare delivery, the rights of children and young people to a healthy development – all of it, and more, aimed at proactively promoting a healthy lifestyle.
Ministry civil servants can subscribe to more than 400 special subjects from the digital special library. Els, Ronald, and their six colleagues search for, update, and add new material daily. Papers added to the catalogue are displayed as headings directly on a portal, with the subject linked to the user’s profile.
This leads to a dramatic increase in efficiency, giving users quick access to whatever they’re looking for.
Civil servants, the House of Representatives, the state secretary and the minister herself, Edith Schippers, also submit queries on specific issues to the special library, via her subordinates.
Els and Ronald are currently stationed at the Ministry of Education while their building across the street is undergoing renovations. However, their meticulous efforts to generate input for civil servants, in many cases for important political decisions, are continuing at the same rate online.
“We not only need to find the icing on the cake, we have to find the right cake,” says Els Alebregtse, who is pleased that everyone now has a completely different overview, accessibility, and faster lead-times.