International Network for the Availability
of Scientific Publications

Newsletter

INASP Newsletter No. 23, June 2003 ISSN: 1028-0790  
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© International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP), 2003. No parts of this publication may be reproduced for commercial use. Reproduction of articles for educational purposes is permitted only with acknowledgement of the source.

Newsletter Editor: Pippa Smart

Layout & artwork: Ard Jongsma

Address:

INASP 27 Park End Street Oxford OX1 1HU, UK   WWW: www.inasp.info

 

About INASP

INASP is a cooperative network of partners whose aim is to enhance worldwide access to information and knowledge. It has three immediate objectives:

- to map, support and strengthen existing activities promoting access to and dissemination of scientific and scholarly information and knowledge;

- to identify, encourage and support new initiatives that will increase local publication and general access to high quality scientific and scholarly information;

- to promote in-country capacity building in information production, organization, access and dissemination.

INASP is a programme of the International Council for Science (ICSU).

Chairman: Kai-Inge Hillerud Director: Carol Priestley

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E-publishing and the Scientific Information Chain

by Prof. Sir Roger Elliott

Scientific information is increasingly being made available in electronic form on the World Wide Web. Several million articles are available - but how accessible are they to researchers across the developed and developing world? The possibilities offered by online publishing are offset by commercial and practical issues, and the concerns of the scientific community are leading to some radical changes to the information chain.

Scientists in general wish to make the results of their research widely and easily available to their colleagues because the whole edifice of scientific progress is built on the gradual accretion of information and ideas from the whole community. It also provides recognition and ultimately career enhancement for the working scientist.

Journal articles have been the traditional form of this dissemination and over time scientific journal publishing has become a sophisticated operation offering (in print on paper) quality assurance through peer review and effective distribution. It has become highly competitive with some journals commanding important positions in their field by using subjective criteria for material that is particularly important and topical.

The system has also become very expensive as journals have proliferated and print numbers declined, so that even the biggest libraries have found it impossible to maintain subscriptions to all the available journals, while smaller institutions and in particular developing countries have been effectively priced out of the market.

Electronic publishing provides a whole new range of opportunities to improve the scientific information chain, of which wide and apparently free dissemination via the internet is one of the most obvious. It has encouraged more and more self publication through individual web sites, through institutional information providers, and through subject oriented preprint servers. Such publication is, however, not subject to effective quality control, except by the choice of the reader.

More sophisticated forms of electronic publishing can provide much added value beyond the new form of dissemination - such as rapid peer review, additional supporting material which would be too expensive to print, sound and pictorial presentations, and easy cross referencing. However, such additional value comes at a cost. Most of the traditional journal publishers now provide electronic access to their material but it is usually subject to contractual restrictions, and in some cases to a requirement that the user buys access to a whole bundle of journals and maintains some print subscriptions. This allows the publisher to protect income and profits but is not necessarily optimal for the scientific community.

At least the marginal costs of providing electronic access to traditional journals is relatively small and this has been recognised by many publishers who are willing to allow such access at low or zero cost to workers in developing countries. This is only efficient if the user has access to appropriate equipment and communications, and ideally needs an intermediary to set up efficient arrangements. INASP's Programme for the Enhancement of the Research Information (PERI) is an excellent example of these initiatives.

Looking further into the future the new technology provides an opportunity for the scientific community itself representing as it does both author and user, to take greater charge of the publishing process. There have been several initiatives to encourage scientists to use electronic methods of distribution for their research which provides cheap and easy access for their colleagues. To date the impact has been limited but it seems clear that the climate is changing as scientists, their employers, and the funding agencies, take a greater interest in the efficiency and cost of the scientific information chain.

Prof. Sir Roger Elliott Theoretical Physics, Oxford Email: <> 

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Towards open access to scientific journals

by David Prosser

The development of the internet and new electronic publishing tools led many to predict that there would be significant changes in scholarly communication. However, to date we have mostly seen electronic versions of print journals, with access restricted to subscribers. Now, a new model is now being developed that could completely change the way that we access the scholarly literature.

'Open access' journals use the internet to make the papers published in them free to all interested readers, not just those lucky enough to be at an institution with a subscription. This immediately widens the potential readership of each paper and brings the literature to all researchers so accelerating research. Papers would continue to be peer-reviewed in the usual way and open-access journals would have the same quality as traditional subscription-based journals.

Discussions are taking place within the academic and library communities and the publishing industry as to how best to finance open access journals. Obviously, there are costs associated with the peer-review process and online-publication that must be met. Currently, funds are used to access the literature (through subscriptions), but the new model suggests that those funds could be better spent distributing research results. One of the most stable long-term models may be that authors use funds from their research grants to pay for publication. Alternatively (or in parallel to author payments) funds may come from institutions, foundations, or directly from governments to cover publication costs.

The open access model has obvious implications for researchers in developing countries. The benefits to readers of open access would be immense as they would have access to all of the world's science literature rather than just the tiny fraction they can currently access. Another benefit would be that non-western journals would become more visible. Often these journals are the first to be cancelled from western libraries and the research published in them essentially becomes invisible to western readers. If these journals can move to open access, the research published in them will become more prominent to all the world's researchers. The Indian Academy of Sciences recently made 11 of their journals open access over the internet in the desire to ensure that the authors in these journals receive enhanced international visibility. One possible disadvantage of the model is that many authors from developing countries may not have extra funds to pay for publication costs. However, those publishers who already produce open access journals (such as BioMedCentral <www.biomedcentral.com>) allow waivers of the fees for these authors.

The move to open access will take a large international effort. However, we are already seeing an increase in the number of new open access journals being launched. Over the next year many existing subscription-based journals will start to make the transfer to open access. The issue is receiving increasing attention from academics, librarians, publishers, and funding bodies as the benefits of making the science literature free to all is increasingly recognised. The transition will provide many challenges for us all, but the prize of free access for all the world's researchers makes it essential that we rise to the challenges.

David C Prosser Director, SPARC Europe Email:   Web: www.sparceurope.org

INASP Open Access Online Directory

This web page lists numerous free resources for scientists throughout the world, including Open Access Resources and related sites. The site gives a short description of the resource, with links to the relevant websites. See: www.inasp.info/peri/openaccess 

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Scholarly associations and the economic viability of open access publishing

by John Willinsky

This article has been abridged from the Journal of Digital Information, Vol 4, No. 2: 9 April 2003, see <www.pkp.ubc.ca> for the full article.

After a decade of Internet scholarly publishing, roughly 75% academic journals are online - as well as in print - while more than 1000 peer-reviewed journals are only online.

While most journals continue a version of print's subscription model (with pay-per-view and site license variations) into this new medium, some are pursuing a new model of open access - currently estimated to comprise 10-20% of online journals.

Scholarly associations are the key players in deciding the place of open access in the future of scholarly publishing. They are at the heart of academic journal publishing, and are concerned with the public face (and funding) of their various disciplines. They now face critical decisions on how best to use this digital medium to further the scholarly interests of their members.

Redundant economies

Take David Rusin's paper, "The Expected Properties of Dark Lenses" recently published in the Astrophysical Journal. When it was accepted in February 2002 he posted a copy to the arXiv.org eprint archive. He updated this version on 2 May 2002 with the comment: "Final version, minor corrections, 18 pages, ApJ June 20 2002". The paper was thus simultaneously available in both the University of Chicago Press' Astrophysical Journal (print and online) and in arXiv.org. Also remember that most AAS members have access to the article through their reduced membership rate and their university library. (There is similar duplication through open access and fee-based indexing research literature.)

This duplication means that the American Astronomical Society's electronic publishing strategy with the University of Chicago Press has been compromised by the presence of open access publishing of some of its content. Equally the Society's members and subscribers are paying for an exclusive service which they are no longer getting on an exclusive basis. The library would seem to bear the brunt of this redundancy, as it subscribes to journals and indexing services.


Open access

Open access may deprive scholarly associations of publishing revenues and memberships, but may further their mission by increasing journal readership, and providing public access to the benefit of research in developed and developing countries. The membership subscription model may not have much of a future, leaving associations with the question of how this revenue loss may be compensated.

During this transition period of both print and electronic publication - which makes open access far more difficult to sustain -the scholarly associations need to rethink their role and services, rather than holding on to a publishing model which may be passing. This is the time to bring the scholarly and economic, the ethical and intellectual, aspects before the membership, as the change in publishing mediums could well alter the nature of the scholarly association.

With print there was reason to make readers and libraries pay for elaborately published volumes, meant to stand as a permanent scholarly record of scientific and intellectual achievement. The Internet changes what it means to go public. Now is the time for scholarly associations to ask themselves how to use this new publishing medium to extend and advance the exchange of knowledge.

John Willinsky University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada Public Knowledge Project <pkp.ubc.ca> Email:

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INFORMATION MANAGEMENT TRENDS

In June, Peter Ballantyne joined INASP as Deputy Director. We asked him to share a few ideas about INASP's mandate and to briefly introduce himself. (A profile of Peter Ballantyne can be found on page 12.)

by Peter Ballantyne

We are seeing massive changes in the way that researchers in developing countries communicate with one another and in how they produce and gain access to information. If they are 'connected' to various information and communication technologies (ICTs), and have access to some essential skills, they can keep in touch with their peers at the click of a few buttons, rapidly publish and disseminate their own work, and browse through whole libraries of reports and data, downloading the latest ideas needed for their work.

We have also seen changes in the information management 'business.' Fifteen years ago, information 'handling' and its management was the job of professionals and specialists (in publishing, libraries, archives, computers). Usually located in specialist units inside organizations (sometimes specialist information organizations), these people tracked down and organized scarce information. They also worked with the results of research, packaging them into printed products to share with others. They 'served' researchers by providing tools to help them do their research better.

This situation is different today. More access to more powerful and easier to use ICTs has turned us all into information specialists, allowing us to handle our own information management needs. Around the world, researchers build websites, manage databases, publish newsletters, organize workshops, and find their own information. The old information professionals are still around, sometimes re-branded as 'knowledge' specialists, and struggling to provide services and products to people who appear to have their own access to the same technical tools. Similarly, as research has got connected, traditional centres of information management seem to have been left behind. Often, libraries do not seem to be essential ingredients in ICT-enabled investments and plans. The old information intermediaries, with their commitment to service are being replaced, it seems, by a set of information society tools and competencies that anyone can use.

However, the role of the intermediaries may be about to stage a serious revival. It is becoming especially clear that an individualized approach, while helping to empower and motivate individual researchers, also has high collective and organizational costs. As information in our new economy has become privatized, so costs have risen. In developing countries especially, most of this privatized information - in the form of journals or web sites - is unaffordable. Despite being technically connected, developing country research can be intellectually isolated.

Hence, people are now needed to track down and obtain this costly information; to negotiate and oversee collective access to this information; and to build joint ventures to ensure that viable local publishing mechanisms exist and to ensure that knowledge generated locally is accessible locally. These people will be different to our old information professionals. They are likely to act as 'infomediaries' - not so much between people and information as between information and information, and the owners of that information. They will have a key role in fostering effective networking relationships, in connecting organizational goals with information opportunities and possibilities, and in strengthening the capacities of organizations and people to work together to improve the contribution of information to development problems.

What does this imply for research in developing countries?

Roles for infomediaries?

To ensure that research and science is effective in addressing local and global development problems, I see five main areas where these new infomediaries, and by implication INASP, might be busy:

Publishing - Organizing to effectively generate or create content, in whatever forms. This is about research expressing its own knowledge, and being able to produce, 'upload' or contribute it to appropriate local or global knowledge systems and communities.

Sharing - Disseminating the information and knowledge that is generated; also archiving and organizing it for later use or re-use. This is also about research being able to 'upload' and store its knowledge, reaching the right audiences.

Accessing - 'Connecting' to electronic information and knowledge. This is about research getting technically connected to systems holding information, using whichever tools are locally appropriate. It also means intelligently selecting what needs to be 'downloaded' and being able to adapt and synthesize this for internal use.

Networking - Working with others in alliances, collaborations and joint ventures. This is about research creating or participating in shared community spaces or platforms where greater impact and effect can be achieved by pooling resources and sharing expertise.

Information - Focusing on content, applications and uses of information. Putting it together, this is about research building on the skills of new and old infomediaries so they and the organization can operate effectively in today's information and knowledge societies.

By an amazing coincidence, the initial letters of these challenges together are the same as those used by INASP itself!


Peter Ballantyne Deputy Director, INASP Email:

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WORLD SUMMIT ON THE INFORMATION SOCIETY

by Carthage Smith

To raise the profile of scientific issues in the information age, ICSU is taking an active role in preparations for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) (December 2003, Geneva). A major focus for the summit is the digital divide, an issue of immediate concern to scientists and the role of science in society.

ICSU's strategy for engaging the S&T community included hosting an online discussion forum in February this year.

This focused on four key themes: 1) Scientific data and information for decision-making and better governance, 2) Ensuring universal access to scientific knowledge internationally, 3) Scientific data and information as a global public good, 4) Using scientific data and information to improve all levels of education and training.

In addition, ICSU partnered with CODATA, the US National Academies of Science, and UNESCO to host an international symposium on Open Access and the Public Domain in Digital Data and Information for Science (10-11 March 2003; Paris), which brought together more than 140 scientists and science managers. ICSU also invited many of the participants and representatives from intergovernmental agencies to a special workshop (12 March 2003) designed to identify major issues for science.

As the principle outcome of the workshop, ICSU is now developing a series of documents (distribution target: early June 2003) to help National Members raise awareness of the importance of science to the information society and vice versa. An overall agenda for action on science in the information society is already available on the ICSU website.

Major WSIS events include: · A WSIS Intersessional meeting at UNESCO dedicated to refining the working documents for the Draft Declaration of Principles and Draft Action Plan: July 2003 · The 3rd Meeting of the Preparatory Committee for WSIS (PrepCom-3): Geneva, 15-26 September 2003. · The European Centre for Nuclear Research (CERN) is hosting a major event on the role of science and technology in the Information society: December 2003 ICSU will be providing input and representation to each of these events and we are currently developing and discussing with other partner organizations to make sure that the voice of science is loud and clear at the Geneva Summit.

Find out more: General information about WSIS is available through the International Telecommunications Union www.itu.int/wsis . Contributions to the online forum, as well as webcasts of the symposium, are available through the WSIS section of the ICSU web site www.icsu.org . Preliminary outcomes of the ICSU workshop are available. Contact Hervé Barioulet . 

Carthage Smith Deputy Executive Director, International Council for Science (ICSU) Email: .

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INASP and WSIS

The World Summit for the Information Society (WSIS), Geneva 2003 and Tunis 2005, will be the first worldwide attempt to understand and take advantage of information and knowledge in its broadest terms. WSIS has identified three main concerns to be addressed by the Summit: vision, access and applications - and PERI is a strategic project addressing these areas in an innovative way

A presentation on the PERI programme including case studies from collaborating countries (Bolivia, Ghana, Nepal and Senegal) was given at a round table meeting in Lugano, Switzerland, March 2003. A copy of the full ICSU/INASP WSIS report is available: please contact .

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INASP-Health     INASP-Health     INASP-Health     INASP-Health

About INASP-Health

INASP-Health is a cooperative network of more than 1000 organizations and individuals worldwide, working together to improve access to information for health professionals in developing and emerging countries.

Further details: Dr Neil Pakenham-Walsh MD Senior Programme Manager INASP-Health  


Supported by: BMJ Publishing Group CDSI (ICSU) Exchange IICD Wellcome Trust World Health Organization

INASP-Health: new publications and services

Join HIF-net at WHO ! 

Email your name, organization and professional interests to:  

Strengthening the local creation and adaptation of health information in Tanzania

by Neil Pakenham-Walsh (INASP) and Sarah Hammond (Healthlink Worldwide)

Picture: Tanzania INASP is working with the International Institute for Communication and Development, and a range of Northern and Southern partners, to stimulate the local creation and adaptation of health information in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda (see INASP Newsletter, June 2002: 'Creating and communicating local development content').

In collaboration with CEDHA (Centre for Educational Development and Health Arusha), COSTECH (Commission for Science and Technology) and Healthlink Worldwide, INASP organized two workshops in Tanzania to identify opportunities and explore potential capacity building ideas.

Community perspectives

The first workshop, held in Moshi, brought together a range of participants with community-level experience in the development of local health content, including doctors, nurses, librarians, community development officers, and traditional healers. The workshop identified the following key areas where there are barriers to creating and using local content in Tanzania: social and cultural issues; language and communication skills; economic status; infrastructure; lack of access to technology; lack of education; lack of leadership and trust; globalization; and low levels of confidence and motivation.

Local health content in northern Tanzania was seen to be important for many reasons, including relevance, affordability, cultural acceptability, effectiveness, positive impact on national and local identity, positive impact on confidence and motivation; and positive impact on local networks and sharing of information. Several project ideas were put forward, including web-based information, advocacy against genital mutilation, and synthesis of local and global content.

National perspectives

The second workshop was held in Dar-es-Salaam, and included government ministries, national NGOs, health professionals, lecturers and media organizations. Participants emphasized the following priorities to stimulate local content: (1) networking, collaboration and dialogue; (2) human resources, and (3) community participation.

Participants suggested the Government should increase its recognition and support for local resources, local institutions, and local expertise. The current emphasis on external expertise and information should shift to local expertise and information.

It was also noted that donors give inadequate support to human resources as compared with funding for physical items such as buildings and computers. More emphasis is needed on training, including ICT skills. Participants also discussed the related dilemma of the brain drain: trained people often move to other countries, or to richer institutions within their own country.

Workshop participants agreed on the need to embrace ICTs to move forward. 'It is the easiest way. That we are poor is not an excuse.'

Next steps

Similar workshops are taking place in Kenya and Uganda, and together will form the basis for a range of IICD-supported capacity building activities in the region in the second half of 2003.

All those with an interest in 'local content' are encouraged to join the 'Community content creation network' at www.dgroups.org/groups/c3net


CME for rural health professionals

Continuing medical education (CME) refers to the process of lifelong learning, after basic training, for health professionals to maintain and update their skills and knowledge. Health workers in rural areas of developing countries are often professionally isolated and demotivated. ICTs have a huge but unrealized potential to transform their professional development and the quality of healthcare they can deliver.

INASP has recently been working with a range of partners, including Cordaid, Exchange, FSG Communications, International Institute for Communication and Development, and the Uganda Medical Association (UMA), to help stimulate cooperation for CME in Africa. This has included three significant events:

1. 'East Africa Regional Consultation on CME', hosted by the UMA, Kampala, Uganda, November 2002

2. Health Information Forum on CME, at the Royal College of Physicians, London, January 2003

3. 'Using ICTs to enhance the skills of health workers in rural areas', hosted by Cordaid, IICD and CEDHA (Centre for Education and Health Arusha) in Moshi, Tanzania, in April 2003.

Some of the key messages emerging from these meetings are:

1. Current models of CME, based around off-site training courses, are often expensive, poorly coordinated, and duplicative. Most importantly, they take essential staff away from health facilities.

2. CME activities are often driven by the agendas of implementing agencies rather than real expressed needs.

3. Learning is most effective when it is problem-centred and 'on the job'. Availability of 'just-in-time' reference materials at the point of care is at least as important as 'just-in-case' learning materials.

4. Any new activities need to integrate with existing national CME structures.

5. Health workers should be more involved in policy making and materials development.

6. Individual CME learning plans, with personal goals, can be highly effective.

7. National CME programmes and coordinators can do the job effectively if given adequate resources and motivational support.

There are huge challenges ahead, which will require investment, but it is increasingly unacceptable to exclude ICT solutions as too expensive. Indeed, we cannot afford to exclude them - onsite learning is likely to prove increasingly cost-effective as compared with off-site courses, although a mix of approaches is likely to be best.

The medical boards and councils of Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda subsequently convened in March 2003, and agreed measures to harmonize policy for CME across the region, including training, accreditation and reciprocal registration of medical and dental practitioners.

National committees from Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia are now working on action plans to develop ICT-enabled CME programmes for rural health professionals.

The success of our collective efforts will depend largely on our ability to continue to promote collaboration and sharing of experience at international, regional and national levels.


For further information, contact Neil Pakenham-Walsh at


ICTs For Health In The Amazon Rainforest

by Andrés Martínez and Valentín Villarroel

Picture
A solar panel is erected to power the telecommunications system.

The Technical University of Madrid and the non-governmental organization Engineering Without Frontiers are developing low-cost telecommunication systems and information services for rural primary health care personnel in isolated areas of developing countries. In September 2001 the 'Hispano-American Health Link' programme (EHAS) was introduced in Alto Amazonas, in the Peruvian rain forest.

Alto Amazonas is a province twice the size of Belgium - but with rivers as roads. It includes one provincial hospital (Yurimaguas), 11 health centres (HCs) and 81 health posts (HPs). EHAS has deployed telecommunication systems in 40 establishments in the southern part of the province (one e-mail server in the urban hospital, 6 more in HCs, and 33 client systems in HPs). All the systems are powered by solar panels and use VHF radio-based voice and data communication technologies, which are easy to use, robust and inexpensive to run.

Before the project, only the hospital and two HCs had a telephone. 71% of the establishments had no communication system. The other 29% had a VHF radio, or a public telephone in the town. Only one HP had a physician in charge; nurse technicians headed the rest. The average time to travel from an HP to its reference HC was 11 hours (9 hours for urgent cases).

Evaluation has shown that the programme has been effective to:

  • provide voice and email communications (97% and 90%, respectively); · enable tele-consultations with reference sites (over 700 diagnostic or treatment tele-consultations were carried out in 9 months, of which 97% were successfully resolved); · improve efficiency of epidemiological data collection (75% reduction in number of journeys required to send reports, 50% reduction in report preparation time); · improve efficiency of urgent patient referrals (3 hours reduction in average transfer time, and advance communication between HP and health centre/hospital).

The vast majority of users found it easy to use the computer and email, after two training courses of 5 days each.

The system was readily accepted by health managers and administrators as well as users. 100% were satisfied with the voice system, 71% with the email and 93% with the computer.

Taking into account only direct tangible benefits (eg savings on travel and patient referrals) the complete system can pay for itself within two and a half years.

More information from: Andrés Martínez   or www.ehas.org.


WHO Collaborating Centres: International sharing of knowledge

by Evelyn Kortum, Occupational Health Programme, WHO

WHO policy on collaboration was defined in 1949, and has been followed constantly since then. It states that WHO should not consider "the establishment, under its own auspices, of international research institutions" and that "research in the field of health is best advanced by assisting, coordinating and making use of the activities of existing institutions". Hence the idea of WHO Collaborating Centres was born.

A WHO Collaborating Centre is a national institution designated by the WHO Director-General to form part of an international collaborative network carrying out activities in support of WHO's mandate. The activities may take place at the country, inter-country, regional and/or global level. Collaborating Centres also include departments within ministries, universities or national research institutes.

WHO Collaborating Centres work closely with WHO headquarters and regional offices to meet two major needs: to address WHO programme priorities and to strengthen institutional capacity in countries and regions. Their key functions include: collection, provision and dissemination of information participation in collaborative research education and training, including research training advice on scientific, technical and policy issues.

Exchange of experience and collaboration is facilitated by physical meetings, increasingly complemented by e-mail, online discussion groups and videoconferencing.

The WHO Occupational Health Programme involves about 70 Collaborating Centres worldwide. Additional support is provided by three non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in formal relations with the Programme: the International Commission on Occupational Health, the International Occupational Hygiene Association, and the International Ergonomics Association.

The Global Network of CCs in Occupational Health was established in June 1990 and meets every 2 years. The Network meeting in Beijing 1994 led to the WHO Global Strategy on Occupational Health for All, which outlines priorities and guides current activities. These include a large number of projects to benefit the developing world, as well as countries in transition. At the same time, industrialized countries benefit from new insights and approaches. The Network provides a range of publications and services, including training courses for occupational health personnel, establishment of guidelines, and direct support to projects in developing countries.

The Network has many successful examples of collaboration between centres in industrialized and developing countries.

At the last Network meeting in February 2003, members emphasized the importance of being part of a team of experts from various parts of the world, allowing them to see the world through the eyes of others and to exchange experience. The Network makes it possible to use and adapt experience to different situations.

Enthusiasm and perseverance are vital ingredients to achieve project objectives. The Collaborating Centres have actively participated in the Network and furthered the purpose of its existence. Also, the Network is constantly growing and attracting new centres of excellence. New Collaborating Centres are currently being designated in Benin, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Egypt, Japan, the Republic of Macedonia, South Africa, Spain, Ukraine and the USA.

WHO Occupational Health website: www.who.int/oeh 

For further information, please contact Evelyn Kortum at:

INASP-Health     INASP-Health     INASP-Health     INASP-Health

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Latin America and the Caribbean seek to meet the challenges of the information society

by Maritza Hee Houng

The Latin American and Caribbean (LAC) regions have recently held a number of meetings aimed at ensuring their inclusion in the emerging Information Society.

Under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), the Ministry of Science and Technology of Brazil, and the United Nations Task Force for Information and Communication Technologies (UN ICT Task Force), an International Forum: Latin America and the Caribbean in the Information Society, was held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil from September 26-28, 2002.

The objective of the Forum was to promote exchange of ideas and open debate among representatives of the public and private sectors, academia, non-governmental organizations and international organizations, within the framework of preparing an agenda for the region for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) that will take place in Geneva in December 2003.

The debates in both plenary and sub-regional working groups addressed the critical issues facing the region in entering the Information Society. Covered under the themes of regulation and infrastructure, contents and applications, open services, strategies and polices, the Forum established the Principles for the Information Society in the LAC.

While the deliberations of the Forum did reflect differences at national and sub-regional levels in the values, conditions, needs and aspirations, there was agreement on some common priority issues:

· Strengthening of institutional capacities · Increasing the contribution of the information society and the knowledge economy to sustainable economic growth · Strengthening the mobilization of resources and of all social sectors in order to create an institutional infrastructure for lifelong learning · Promoting the development and use of statistical indicators that will define and measure the information and communication sector in the economies of the individual countries, sub-regions and the entire region.

The report and recommendations of the International Forum: Latin America and the Caribbean in the Information Society are available at www.forumalysi.socinfo.org.br/docs

The Forum was also intended to assist in the preparation of inputs for the Regional Ministerial Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), for the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), that took place in Bavaro, Santo Domingo from 29-31 January 2003 under the auspices of the Government of the Dominican Republic, with the secretariat support of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), and the Dominican Telecommunications Institute (Indotel).

The mix of international agencies, donor agencies, Ministerial representatives and non-governmental organizations represented at the Conference provided participants with a perspective on the region's steps towards the Information Society and of the possibilities offered by international and other agencies in the transition.

Workshop sessions on universal access to telecommunications services, and ICTs at the service of development were supported by plenary meetings. A strong focus on the financing needed by LAC to bridge the digital divide at both international and national levels is expected to produce the specific recommendations which will lead to action from the WSIS.

The results and statement of the Regional Ministerial Conference of Latin America and the Caribbean for the World Summit on the Information Society held in Bavaro, Dominican Republic, January 29-31 can be accessed on the worldwide web at www.indotel.org.do/wsis 

More information from:

Maritza Hee Houng INASP Coordinator, Caribbean & Latin America Email:  

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Profile: INASP Deputy Director Peter Ballantyne

Peter Ballantyne Peter Ballantyne has experience in many aspects of information and its management, including its generation, production, editing, exchange and dissemination, and organization in databases and libraries. Peter joins us from the International Institute for Communication and Development (IICD) where he was responsible for 'knowledge sharing' activities. He was particularly involved in local content, knowledge management, support for information exchange and networking on ICTs in developing countries, and joint ventures on training (www.itrainonline.org), development dialogue (www.dgroups.org), and information dissemination (www.iconnect-online.org). 

Before IICD, he worked for the European Centre for Development Policy Management (ECDPM) where he was associated with joint ventures like Euforic (www.euforic.org), OneWorld Europe, and OneWorld's online 'thinktank'. In both organizations, he was involved in wider strategic planning processes as well as the setting up of information exchange programmes. Prior to that, he worked in agricultural information - at the International Service for National Agricultural Research, in Thailand as a VSO librarian, and for the World Bank and IMF.

Peter Ballantyne can be contacted at: Email: >

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INASP initiative to facilitate access to rural development information

Rural Development Directory Coverby Pru Watts-Russell

Whilst it is generally acknowledged that information and knowledge have a key role to play in ensuring sustainable development, the act of tracking down relevant information from an ever-increasing wide range of disparate and scattered sources is not always so easy a task. INASP, in an attempt to address this issue, has been instrumental in producing a comprehensive directory (May 2003) which aims to both identify and bring together the main protagonists in one place under the broad umbrella term 'rural development'.

In consolidating details of over 430 organizations and networks (some familiar like CTA, FAO, others lesser well known such as INFOPECHE, Partnership for African Environmental Sustainability) and their information activities, the main objectives of the INASP Rural Development Directory 2003/2004 are to: · promote the exchange of information between like-minded individuals and bodies - networks, research institutes, NGOs, national, regional and international organizations -involved in all aspects of rural development; · act as a key to much of the information on rural development that has emanated worldwide, allowing those with an interest in accessing it - be they decision-makers, professionals, grassroots workers - to now do so with greater ease.

In line with current trends for international communication on rural development, the main thrust of disseminating the directory's contents is to be achieved by electronic means. It is hosted on the Internet on the INASP website www.inasp.info/south, where it will be regularly updated, and due to generous funding from CTA is also obtainable on CD-ROM.

NB A copy of this disk is being mailed along with this newsletter to relevant organizations.

Undoubtedly the promotional potential offered by online accessibility is enormous; particularly if appropriate channels such as relevant listservs, mailing lists etc are taken advantage of to publicise the Directory's existence to interested parties. However, INASP remains mindful of the fact that the means to access the resources thus made available (both the Directory itself and the information put out by those included in it) are still likely to elude many of the intended target groups. The ICT sector in many parts of the developing world remains underdeveloped, with limited local capacity. Where access to and benefits from the use of ICTs are confined primarily to an urban elite at the expense of the rural communities.

Due to restrictions in funding INASP has been obliged to limit the Directory's initial print run to a mere 100. However, a quantity of these have specifically been set aside as complimentary copies (the others being available for sale) for donation at the discretion of INASP. They are primarily intended to benefit those rural development biased institutions and their libraries, which being without access to the Internet or computers, are unable to take advantage of its presence either on the web or on CD-ROM.

INASP Rural Development Directory 2003/2004: 464pp, £25 in print, £10 on CD-ROM, available from INASP

Pru Watts-Russell Programme Officer, INASP Email:

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Public Library Revitalization Programme: New publications

Reader Development CoverReader Development and Reading Promotion

Available from INASP: 96pp, £10.00

Imagine a library which not only stocks and loans books, but actively opens up reading choices, increases readers' enjoyment and offers opportunities to all people to share their reading experiences. This is what reader development and reading promotion is all about and public libraries play a crucial role.

The Carnegie Corporation of New York's (CCNY) current programme supporting the development of public libraries in Africa recognizes that it is critical to establish a reading culture in Africa and that reader development lies at the heart of the programme. An afternoon workshop, organized by INASP and funded by CCNY, was held at the 2002 meeting of the Standing Conference of Eastern, Central and Southern African Librarians (SCECSAL). Facilitated by Gauteng Library and Information Services, it showcased four of the reader development initiatives taking place in Gauteng Province, together with displays of reading and promotional material.

The enthusiasm generated by the workshop and requests for a follow-up has led to this publication. Among the programmes included are books for infants, reading competitions, reading tents, reading enrichment schemes, book-based literacy instruction, women's reading corners, promotion of reading to adult learners.

It is not easy to find out about library-based reader development activities taking place in Africa, but this book provides a small window.

One problem in Africa is the availability and accessibility of relevant and appropriate books and reading materials, and libraries need to consider forming partnerships, especially with commercial organizations, to assist them in fulfilling their programmes. More thought also needs to be given to the training of librarians.

Few programmes have been rigorously evaluated and most libraries have failed to establish reader development policies, so that initiatives tend to be one-off events.

It is hoped that these case studies and the sharing of experience will assist public libraries to move forward. INASP is also planning a reader development workshop at the forthcoming West African Library Association meeting, to take place in Accra, Ghana in November 2003.

Income Generation CoverIncome Generation: Experiences from public library systems in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa

Available from INASP: 72pp, £7.50

In August 2001, Mr Stanley Ng'ang'a, Director, Kenya National Library Services (KNLS), at the Carnegie Corporation of New York meeting for Grantees from the public library sector in Africa in Boston, suggested that INASP work on a volume of case studies on Income Generation in Public Libraries in Africa. He felt that KNLS had had several positive experiences in this area but would also like to learn from other services.

In response to this, INASP sent letters to 20 public libraries and national library services in those African countries in which Carnegie Corporation of New York is active. All major public library systems in were invited to contribute, but some felt they did not have any income generating activities about which to report, and several commented that legal restrictions prevented them from raising funds.

Many libraries become involved in income generation in a haphazard manner, and see that an idea works, so pursue it, and then convert that method of income generation to another area, until they have become involved in several income generation activities, without a plan for them or any clear expectation of income to be generated. This work offers some planning guidelines for those who would like to take a more cautious approach, but also shows the success of those who have taken the bold step and tried their own methods.

Issues covered include staffing of income generating activities, and the need for staff retraining, the real cost of income generating activities, who keeps the income and how should it be allocated, and publicity for income generating activities.

This work is intended to spark interest and generate ideas, and while no firm answers are provided, it is hoped that this small book will stimulate thought and discussion.

The Carnegie Corporation of New York Public Library Revitalization Programme is thanked for its support of both of these publications.

See: http://www.inasp.info/pubs/ for further information.

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Notice Board

The INASP Newsletter Notice Board is a public forum for organisations and institutions wishing to advertise their projects, activities, offers or requests.

Short contributions can be sent to the editor at INASP.

Library meetings

Standing Conference of African University Libraries - Western Area (SCAULWA) Accra, Ghana, 3-5 November 2003

Theme: Donor Support and Sustainability

Further information: Conference secretary  

West African Library Association (WALA) Accra, Ghana, 6-7 November 2003

Theme: Management of National Library Associations

Further information: Conference secretary

Sixth Standing Conference of African National and University Libraries in the Eastern, Central and Southern Region (SCANUL-ECS) Kampala, Uganda, 1-3 July 2004

Theme: User Information Literacy: a continuing challenge for national and university libraries

Further information: www.goatmm.co.za/scanul/

Sixteenth Standing Conference of Eastern, Central and Southern African Library and Information Professionals (SCECSAL) Kampala, Uganda, 5-9 July 2004

Theme: Towards a Knowledge Society for African Development Papers are now being invited.

Further information: www.geocities.com/scecsal

Project Muse

John Hopkins University Press have announced that they will no longer participate in the African E-Journals Project. The business model as outlined in Project Muse's contract with MSU Press is one based on timely availability of electronic journal content to libraries and patrons. The delays encountered in the provision of these materials from publishers to Project Muse resulted in the refunding of money to many libraries and hence a loss of revenues.

Consequently, Project Muse's advisory board reached the decision not to continue with its participation in the African E-Journals Project. However, Michigan State University's African Studies Center, MSU Press, and the MSU Libraries all remain committed to the African E-Journals Project. As a result, they are putting in place a separate e-journals database housed at Michigan State University that will comply with the vision set out in the original specifications of the U.S. Department of Education E-journals grant.

The African Studies Center/Press/Libraries program can be implemented quickly and will provide · ready access to African based scholars via the World Wide Web; · access to the database of African journal content to North American scholars for a fee; It is our intention to have this new site functioning by 1 July 2003.

If you have questions, please do not hesitate to contact the Director, Frederic Bohm   or Peter Limb .

The Aid Workers Network

The Aid Workers Network is an independent learning community of aid workers willing to provide mutual support and practical advice based on experience. It is managed by aid workers for aid workers. It is run by volunteers and membership is free. By subscribing you will receive Aid Workers Exchange, a weekly Email for knowledge sharing amongst field staff in humanitarian relief and international development.

The format of the Email alternates between questions/responses and short articles. You can also check the website www.aidworkers.net  and the forum <forum.aidworkers.net> that aim at encouraging and facilitating the exchange of knowledge and experience amongst aid workers all around the world.

Aardvark

Aardvark: Asian resources for librarians <www.aardvarknet.info> has loaded the entire ERIC database. Unlimited access and searching is free. More free access databases will be added in 2003.

New Directory of Open Access Journals

Lund University Libraries launches the Directory of Open Access Journals (DOAJ) see <www.doaj.org>, supported by the Information Program of the Open Society Institute www.osi.hu/infoprogram,  along with SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition) www.arl.org/sparc

The directory contains information about 350 open access journals, i.e. quality controlled scientific and scholarly electronic journals that are freely available on the web. The service will continue to grow as new journals are identified.

If you know a journal that should be included in the directory, use this form to report it to the directory: www.doaj.org/suggest

Information about how to obtain DOAJ records for use in a library catalogue or other service you will find at: www.doaj.org/articles/questions/#metadata.

Further resources from CABI available in PERI!

Topics in International Health

A new series of CD-ROMs developed by the Wellcome Trust, the world's largest medical research charity, for use as an educational resource in tropical and international health. TIH delivers a collection of interactive tutorials, complete with comprehensive image collection and an extensive glossary in an important range of healthcare areas. The series is designed for use by medical and life science students, researchers, and healthcare professionals.

CABI Compendia

CABI Compendia are encyclopaedic, multimedia tools that bring together a wide range of different types of science-based information. Each Compendium comprises information sourced from experts, edited and compiled by an independent scientific organization, kept up-to-date routinely and resourced by a diverse international Development Consortium. There are currently three compendia in the series, Forestry, Crop Protection and Animal Health and Production.

Go to www.inasp.info/PERI  for more information.

Electronic Publishing Trust for Development

For those interested in learning more about the growing movement towards Open Access, a new Frequently Asked Questions section on Open Access for scientists and publishers in developing countries is available on the EPT website. The URL for full details is: www.epublishingtrust.org

The next INASP Newsletter will be published in November 2003. If you would like to contribute to its contents, please write to the editor at the Oxford address. Contributions must be received by 15 September 2003.

International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications
Website: www.inasp.info
and also:

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