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Europa: Past, Present and Future

What do you have to achieve to make it into an International Who’s Who? How is Europa making use of online publishing? We talk to Editorial Director, Paul Kelly, who answers our questions on Europa's editorial processes, prestigious history and plans for 2014.

What have been the most significant changes in Europa’s history since the publication of the first Year Book?

From the original Europa Year Book in 1926 we have expanded to publish about 25 annual reference products. Still the most visible symbol of our effort is the large reference volume, but alternative publication formats have evolved from book to loose-leaf, back to book, and now to online via a brief dalliance with CD-ROM. I think we are far enough into the internet age now to say that it has brought the most significant of changes to us, both in publishing strategy and in our own research methods.

Who uses
Europa products, and how?

Academic, public and corporate libraries, government, international organizations and the diplomatic world, the media. Reference librarians and other information professionals use Europa products to answer their clients’ questions, and generally their members to the vast range of authoritative information to be found therein.

Each Regional Survey is revised annually by the editorial team. Can you talk us through the process for compiling the most up-to-date information?

The Editor of each Regional Survey considers recent and emerging developments at the regional and national level, and commissions experts, mainly from the academic world, to write and update the articles which appear in the volume. In addition, there are separate research teams who are constantly working at keeping the international organization, statistical and directory content up to date. All directory entries are contacted and invited to update the information about their own organization, and this is supplemented by our own research.

The past year was particularly eventful - the death of Kim Jong Il,  uprisings in the Middle East and the continuing Eurozone crisis. How have the most recent editions of the Surveys and the World Yearbook reflected these changes?

One way of answering this is to say that we took these, and all other significant developments, in our stride and recorded their impact in our regional and national coverage. We are at a constant state of readiness to respond to political and economic change wherever it occurs in the world! Given the ongoing strategic sensitivity of the Koreas, there is an article on The Korean Peninsula: Conflict and Dialogue in The Far East and Australasia, and in the 2013 edition this will examine the impact of the new Kim Jong Un regime on relations between North and South. In the Middle East and North Africa 2013 we will have a new article on Democratization in North Africa written by Dr Larbi Sadiki of the University of Exeter, who has been studying Arab democratization for over a decade. There will be articles on the Euro crisis in both Western Europe 2013 and in the European Union Encyclopedia and Directory 2013.

Europa’s Biographical Reference series includes The International Who’s Who, Who’s Who of International Affairs and the International Who’s Who of Popular Music, amongst others. What are the criteria for entry to one of these titles?

In some cases this is determined by occupancy of a particular position, such as head of state or prime minister, chairman or CEO of a Fortune 500 company, a key diplomatic post, the leadership of a religious organization, or a major bank, or university, etc. In the fields of academia, the arts and sport, for example, we are guided by the awarding of prizes (Nobel, Pulitzer, Goncourt, Oscars, Olympic gold medals, etc), and by things such as conductorship of a leading orchestra or opera company, musical or theatrical performances at prominent venues, team captaincy. So, underlying entry in a Europa Biographical Reference Who’s Who there will always be a history of achievement or influence.

Europa products are now available both online and in print. What would you say are benefits of each format?

Among the advantages of the online products are their searchability, their greater frequency of update, and the flexibility of subscription models. For many users Europa products in print retain the authority of permanence which they require for academic citation, and are the continuation of long series of published reference sources.

Can you tell me a bit more about Europa's plans for 2014?

We do intend to develop content in the Europa Regional Surveys of the World so that it is more accessible to students, or to those with a particular interest in a country, group of countries or theme within a region or across regions. Beyond that, we keep our decisions on editorial changes as closely aligned to international developments as we can, so watch this space!