International Network for the
Availability of Scientific Publications
International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications
Number 8, May 1997.
Neil Pakenham-Walsh (INASP-Health section)
Contributors to this issue:
Ana Mar’a Cetto, Merle Colglazier, David
FitzSimons, Geoffrey Hamilton, Sheila O'Sullivan, Maxwell Oyinloye, Carol
Priestley, Diana Rosenberg, Liz Woolley.
University Libraries in Africa
IAI publishes 3-volume review
Although much international activity in support of African higher education has taken place in recent years, libraries have generally been neglected and are probably in a worse state than ever before. There is very little information about recent activities of these libraries; where the information is available it is rarely made public. In 1995 the International African Institute (IAI) in London undertook to produce a general overview of the current status of African university libraries. The resulting study was published earlier this year and reveals a gloomy picture of the situation in 18 university libraries in 11 African countries.
Although much international activity in support of African higher education has taken place in recent years, libraries have generally been neglected and are probably in a worse state than ever before. There is very little information about recent activities of these libraries; where the information is available it is rarely made public. In order to produce a detailed study of the current status of African university libraries, in 1995 the International African Institute (IAI) in London undertook to review the situation in 18 university libraries in 11 African countries.
Diana Rosenberg, former Dean of Information Sciences and Publishing, Moi University, Kenya, co-ordinated the exercise. Resource persons were commissioned in the 11 countries covered and librarians, academics, students and funding agencies were interviewed.
The resulting study - University Libraries in Africa: a Review of their Current State and Future Potential - reveals a gloomy picture of libraries, university administrators and donors alike. It is certain to make even the most experienced professionals in the field of African library support wonder how much more African Academia can take.
With some exceptions (e.g. the University of Botswana and the private universities in Kenya and Zimbabwe) the amount spent by universities on books and journals is pitifully low and decreasing. More than 80% of the average library budget is spent on staff costs. In a number of libraries, donations - frequently unwanted - account for 90% to 100% of acquisitions. Virtually all IT tools are acquired through external support.
The collections are poor, the area worst hit being current journal subscriptions. Lack of holdings and union lists, lack of active networks and high postage expenses are the main reasons that alternatives to large core collections, such as inter-library loan mechanisms, are sporadic and decreasing in number.
Benefits and maintenance bills
CD-ROM technology and E-mail have brought benefits and maintenance bills. IT and management skills are undeveloped due to lack of in-service training. Inability to meet users' needs undermines communication and dialogue with them. The mushrooming of departmental and faculty libraries has reduced the accessibility of available materials.
Finally, education systems as a whole do not support reading or independent learning. Teaching methods in universities often rely on internal reproduction of notes. Academics no longer undertake research. In this situation the role of the library is marginalised.
Individual and collective action
The recommendations proposed by the study require individual as well as collective action.
Librarians are urged to concentrate on users' needs, generate income, co-ordinate the development of information sources outside the main library and lobby their library's requirements more aggressively.
Donor agencies are urged to develop co-ordinated information policies, employ library/information qualified staff on information projects and help their partners plan towards self-sustainability.
University administrators are urged to stop neglecting their libraries, for example by learning from private university library strategies.
Academics are urged to encourage student-centred learning, communicate with their libraries and support requests for funding.
The Review was discussed by African university librarians at the second Standing Conference of African National and University Librarians in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa (SCANUL-ECS) held in Lesotho in December 1996. A report of this meeting can be found elsewhere in this issue.
The 361 page study is published in three volumes and costs UK £50. The first volume covers the analyses, whereas the second and third contain the 18 case studies. Indispensable reading for anyone active in the field of library development in Africa.
INASP is a co-operative network of partners aiming to improve world-wide access to information. It has three immediate objectives:
INASP is a project of the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) initiated with the support of the European Commission and UNESCO.
Chairman: K-I. Hillerud
Director: Carol Priestley
27 Park End Street
Oxford OX1 1HU
|News from INASP
1 April 1996 - 31 March 1997
With the INASP board members meeting late last month in Oxford, the time arrived to take stock of activities in 1996. Director Carol Priestley reports on project developments in the 5th year of INASP.
There have been several major developments in the past year. The most significant change is probably the opening of an independent INASP office in Oxford. A room in 27 Park End Street in Oxford - residence of among others the African Books Collective and the Bellagio Publishing Network - was chosen to accommodate two INASP staff desks.
From June 1997 INASP will, for the first time, have a full time director. Pru Watts-Russell, Programme Officer, continues to take responsibility for our work with partner institutions.
Dr Neil Pakenham-Walsh manages INASP-Health. For database maintenance, Newsletter production and support with the management of special programmes several staff are employed on a consultancy basis.
On 1 July 1996 INASP was appointed as the co-ordinator of the Sida Department of Research Co-operation (SAREC) Library and Book Support Programme. This includes substantial support to university libraries in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Nicaragua, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. Under the INASP-SAREC programme INASP has been asked to organise a Workshop on Statistics for Librarians (see elsewhere in this issue).
In December 1996 the University of Asmara, Eritrea commissioned INASP to undertake procurement of publications and related library equipment on its behalf. This has resulted in a two-year contract covering management and disbursement of funds provided among others by Sida, the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Italian Co-operation, Swiss Development Assistance and USAID. A similar, though smaller, contract has been prepared by the University of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
From the British Overseas Development Administration INASP has recently received a contract to undertake the co-ordination of the Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADAE) Working Group on Books and Learning Materials.
INASP continues to be a lively organisation that has consolidated its place at the centre of the dialogue on information provision for less developed regions of the world.
Vietnamese Union Catalogue
First step towards a national science information exchange system
Dwindling resources require closer collaboration between libraries, not least where the same expensive science journals are eating away large chunks of the budgets of several libraries in one country. In Vietnam, a number of attempts have been made since 1989 to link the various science information collections in the country. An IFLA project has helped the Vietnamese realise their ambitions.
A severe shortage of funds for the acquisition of foreign scientific and technical periodicals has in recent years forced the leading libraries of Vietnam to enter a dialogue on the opportunities for resource sharing. Many collections of books and periodicals in the country were poor and not regularly updated. There were significant gaps in collections. What was available was hard to access or even locate. Vietnamese libraries felt incapable of responding to the information needs of their changing society.
Comparable in size to Britain and Ireland together and bordering China, Laos and Cambodia, Vietnam is a country of some 330 thousand square kilometres. More than three-quarters of its 74 million population live in rural areas. Although Vietnam ranks among the poorest countries in the world, its development index of 0.54 compares favourably with other countries in the region. Following the adoption in 1986 of the plan for social and economic reform known as 'Doi Moi', the economy of Vietnam is being transformed from a centrally planned to a market-based system.
The government of Vietnam recognises the importance of science and technology development in general, and access to scientific information in particular, as a moving force in the country's development. The National System of Scientific and Technological Information (NSSTI) is a nationwide network of science information and documentation centres. It consists of over 350 units, attached to national and local governments, universities, hospitals, etc. The National Centre for Scientific and Technological Information and Documentation (NACESTID) with its Central Library for Science and Technology plays a leading role in this national system.
There are more than 100 university and higher school libraries throughout the country with average stocks of some 100,000 books and 80 periodical titles. Few institutions have very large collections. The Vietnamese Teachers' Higher School, Hanoi University and Hanoi Polytechnic Institute each hold over 500,000 book titles and 2,000 - 3,000 (not necessarily current) journal titles each.
Inter-library loan is the most commonly used method for surviving budget cuts by sharing resources among documentation centres. However, a reliable loan system could not until now be established in Vietnam. Most libraries carry only single copies of their books and journals, the security of materials despatched by mail cannot be sufficiently guaranteed, the transportation costs are too high and, perhaps most importantly, a central database covering the country's information stock was never available. The last of these hurdles was the first to be removed paving the road to a national information exchange system.
The last Vietnamese union catalogue on available foreign science and technology periodicals was produced in 1990. In the same period information technology started its introduction into Vietnamese libraries. The National Centre for Scientific and Technological Information and Documentation (NACESTID) therefore proposed to create an updated, computerised version of the catalogue. Initially the idea fell through due to a shortage of funds, but in 1992 the centre's library formulated the idea more concisely and submitted a proposal for funding to IFLA's ALP Programme. The project was approved in 1994 and Sida (Sweden) contributed to the funding.
Staff at the NACESTID library were trained for the task and the necessary equipment was installed. Because of its widespread use throughout the country CDS-ISIS was used to construct the databases and lengthy discussions about their structure and contents resulted in an agreed format which is largely similar to the international standard. Subsequently, a survey covering 120 libraries was carried out to establish the current status of foreign periodical stocks in the country.
The results of the survey and working visits revealed that only very little foreign currency from government and funders had made its way beyond the Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi city boundaries since 1990 (the last year for which data had been available). The gap between rural and urban Vietnam had increased further.
In 1995 two workshops - one in Hanoi and one in Ho Chi Minh City - were organised to discuss the plans with those involved in the development and updating of the database. Some suggestions on the compilation of hard-copies of regional, provincial and sector-specific union catalogues were adopted during these workshops. A manual was produced and tested on a group of NACESTID library staff. The manual has been translated into English in order to facilitate future regional co-operation.
The database has become one of the most advanced and largest projects of computerised science information retrieval in Vietnam. Due to the unequal computer capacity of the participating libraries, data editing and processing has until now been performed mainly by staff of the NACESTID library on the basis of periodically submitted forms. In the future participating libraries themselves will be able to input, edit and process their own data on-line. The system is technically ready for the move to national networking.
And what did it all cost? The total project expenditure was US$ 21,201. IFLA and Sida provided 12,500. NACESTID covered the remainder.
NACESTID address is:
The final report for the
project (IFLA/ALP 215) gives a detailed description of the
database structure and technical details on the way CDS-ISIS was
used to establish the database. Since a manual in English was
also produced, others interested in embarking on a similar
venture might want to consider calling in advice from the
NACESTID project consortium.
Chief of the project team is Mr Vu Van Son, Director of the Central Library for Science and Technology and Deputy Director of NACESTID.
Workshop on library statistics
Following up one of the recommendations of the Review of African University Libraries published earlier this year by the International African Institute in London, the Swedish development agency Sida has asked INASP to organise a workshop on the collection and use of library statistics for African university librarians.
Librarians have long recognised the need for adequate and accurate management of information. In the current atmosphere of diminishing resources, the need for hard, objective evidence for planning and for supporting arguments has become even more crucial. Statistical reporting is part and parcel of reporting on performance; views and impressions have to be confirmed with facts.
In the past two decades methods and standards for the collection of library data have been under almost constant review. However, African university libraries seem to have remained on the sidelines of these debates. The recently published University Libraries in Africa: a Review of their Current State and Future Potential (which is described earlier in this issue) underscored the urgent need for action to improve the collection of library statistics. During the research visits carried out for the study, it showed that many of the statistics requested were not available, not collected regularly, inaccurate, estimated or simply lost. Statistics were rarely used for decision making or lobbying. The report recommended that post-professional training in the area of statistics be organised for university librarians. The Swedish development agency Sida picked up the issue. INASP has been commissioned to organise the workshop for the librarians of those universities that receive support through its library support programme. Dr Stephen Town, University of Cranfield has been invited to be lead resource person.
The workshop will bring 15 librarians from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania and Zimbabwe together for 5 days to be trained in the definition, collection and use of library statistics. The Director of the Central Library for Science and Technology, Vietnam and the Librarian of Peradenya University, Sri Lanka will also participate. Case studies from specific university libraries will be presented and participants will carry out practical exercises on computerised methods of collection and analysis as well as interpretation and use of statistical data.
Photo: Computerised methods of collection and analysis (Photo: Diana Rosenberg)
Based on the consensus reached by the workshop participants, two publications will be produced and distributed to all university libraries in Africa: a Master Questionnaire with the details of core data to be collected and a guide to this questionnaire with a definition of the data and guidance on counting procedures, together with examples.
The workshop will be held in conjunction with the Zimbabwe Book Fair 1997.
More information can be obtained from the INASP secretariat.
INASP-Health is a co-operative network created by health information providers, for health information providers (HIPs). It has one purpose: to assist HIPs in the pursuit of our common goal.
The network welcomes all members of the HIP community: organisations and individuals who are involved in the provision of reliable information for doctors and other health workers in developing and transitional countries.
'Community' emphasises the interconnectedness of our activities as HIPs, whether we are health librarians, health professionals, non-governmental organisations, international health agencies, internet providers, or publishers - among others. As the number and diversity of HIPs increases, so too does the need for communication, co-operation and collaboration.
Participation is free of charge and without obligation. For further information, please see our recent editorial in the British Medical Journal (1997; 314: 90) or contact us at the address on the back page.
Towards our common goal
Universal access to reliable information for health professionals in developing countries
INASP-Health has just celebrated its first birthday - our warm thanks to the many people who have contributed to its success.
The core of the programme, the advisory and referral service, is based on a co-operative network that brings together representatives from all sectors of the 'health information provider' (HIP) community, North and South (see box right).
The INASP-Health network now involves over 300 organisations and individuals collaborating towards our common goal, universal access to reliable information for health professionals in developing countries. Their wide expertise has enabled us to provide individualised advice and assistance to more than 100 HIP organisations and health libraries, including 14 new health information programmes, targeting health professionals from South Africa to St Petersburg.
We are now ready to develop a range of new services to support the network. These will include the INASP-Health Directory of HIP Organisations, the INASP-Health E-mail discussion list, and the Needs and Provision Database of needs assessments, evaluations of different methods of provision and distribution, and related literature of value for the planning of HIP activities.
We shall continue throughout to advocate for health information to be at the top of the health development agenda. In collaboration with Action in International Medicine, we are taking our message to key players such as the World Health Organization and World Bank. We want to see a wide consultative process, involving representatives from all sectors, to define priorities and set targets. Only then can we hope to develop a coherent and balanced global framework that meets the varied needs of tomorrow's health care professionals.
From Brazzaville to Nairobi
CABI follows up on AHILA 5
David FitzSimons and Liz Woolley, both from CAB International, report on the Regional Health Information Exchange Workshop held in Nairobi in November 1996.
Organised by CAB International (CABI) and its Regional Office (Nairobi), the Regional Health Information Workshop was deliberately planned to follow and build on the achievements of the 5th congress of the Association for Health Information and Libraries in Africa (AHILA), held in Brazzaville, Congo [see report in INASP Newsletter, November 1996].
Taking the broad theme 'improving human health through information exchange', the workshop was aimed at library and information staff, researchers, planners and policy makers in Eastern and Southern Africa (budgetary constraints limited participation to these areas). Twenty-three participants took part, from Botswana, Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania,Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe .
Other organisations represented included:
The opening address and concluding remarks were given, respectively, by Hon. Gideon Mutiso, Kenya's Deputy Minister of Health, and Regina Shakakata, President of AHILA. The workshop itself was led by Stanley Mbagathi, a professional facilitator who used a participatory planning approach, allowing participants to share experiences of information management and technology and to agree on the framework and project planning matrices for regional health information projects.
Participants started with the central problem - poor access to health information in countries of Eastern and Southern Africa - and its consequences: poor planning and decision making; poor diagnosis and clinical management; duplication of effort; lack of co-ordination of information services; and low research output. The workshop then explored causes and actions required (see box).
further information, please contact:
CABI Regional Office for Africa
P.O. Box 76520, Nairobi, Kenya
Developments Project Unit,
CAB International, Wallingford
Oxon OX10 8DE
Tel + 44 (0) 1491 832111
Fax + 44 (0) 1491 833508
The final report will be taken
forward by the country representatives present at the workshop to
follow-up meetings in early 1997, in order to appoint national
project committees that will work on implementing the practical
steps identified. The report will also be distributed to donors
to seek financial support for projects.
Participants unanimously agreed that CABI should take the lead in the formulation of regional projects, in close collaboration with other like-minded organisations.
Please note that David FitzSimons left CAB International in February 1997 and is now working as a freelance consultant in international health information before taking up a post with UNAIDS in the Summer.
His address is:
10 Leinster Road, London N10 3AN, UK
Tel/fax: + 44 (0) 181 883 2693
|What are the causes
of lack of access to information?
What actions need to
Resource Centre Development Project
Sheila O'Sullivan from AHRTAG (Appropriate Health Resources and Technologies Action Group) outlines a major project to improve access to health information in Tanzania.
The Resource Centre Development Project aimed to support the Tanzanian Ministry of Health's Continuing Education Programme by improving access to health information in all six zones in the country, and also (at a more peripheral level) in selected districts.
Project activities included: provision of resource materials and equipment, assisting health librarians develop their training skills, designing and delivering a training programme for resource centre assistants (who had not previously had access to any training), and development of health learning materials.
In August 1996 an evaluation of the above project was carried out by an independent team of consultants. The main lessons learned from the evaluation include:
The evaluation emphasised that the project differed from many other approaches in that it started with needs analysis, training and infrastructural development, and only then moved on to provision and improved access to health information. Nevertheless, there was under-utilisation of resource materials,related to previous dependence on lectures and lack of opportunity for independent study.
further information please contact:
This emphasises the importance
of strengthening links with tutors and trainers to encourage
study and work assignments outside the classroom. Creating a
demand for information - and assisting capacity building to
respond to that demand - is as important as simply supplying
AHRTAG has now entered agreement with the Namibian Ministry of Health for a similar programme, Communications for Integrated Learning. The lessons learned from Tanzania will be translated to this new context; in particular, we shall put a greater emphasis on encouraging the use of health information by closer involvement with tutors and trainers, and development of study skills.
Providing medical journals to Bosnia and beyond
More Colglazier, Health Sciences Librarian for Bon Secours-Richmond Health System (USA), describes a programme to provide medical books and journals to countries affected by political or economic hardship.
As a medical librarian working in Richmond, Virginia, I was moved to action by the evident waste of medical and scientific publications, and appeals of desperate need from libraries around the world. As a result I founded JournalShare in 1992. Valuable medical and scientific journals in North America that might otherwise be thrown into landfills are now being collected, organised and dispatched to crisis situations.
In the last 3 years, JournalShare has supplied 20 tons of medical journals to recipient libraries in 6 countries: Egypt, Russia, Georgia, Moldova, Mongolia, and Belarus. Journals have been donated by hundreds of libraries, individuals, and publishers, and the providers are steadily increasing. There are now plans for expanding the programme in Asia, South America, and Eastern Europe.
JournalShare's strategy is to combine journal exchange activities with international library development in a self-sustainable nonprofit system, based on sharing of medical publications among libraries with funds and those without. Simply stated, libraries with revenue purchase journal stock from JournalShare, and the surplus journals are provided to libraries without revenue. On a revolving basis, a small amount of journal stock is sold in order to give away the bulk of journals. JournalShare acts as a nonprofit clearinghouse for surplus medical and scientific periodicals, selling only enough to cover operating costs and giving the rest to libraries in crisis situations.
Some computer experts ingenuously predict that the printed word, including medical journals and scientific publications, will be obsolete in the near future, and will be replaced by digital versions of books and journals. This speculation is nonsense! Advances in computer technology and communications serve only to intensify the demand for printed publications. The JournalShare programme is based on the conviction, informed by market research and common sense, that printed journals and books will continue to be in supply and demand for a long time to come.
JournalShare is currently working on a medical library relief project for Bosnia-Hercegovina in collaboration with the Emergency Medical Response Agency, Inc. Twenty tons of medical journals are being shipped to the University of Sarajevo in Spring 1997. On this landmark occasion, JournalShare will accompany the shipment to assess directly the needs of medical libraries in Bosnia. The visit will be reported in the next issue of the INASP-Health Newsletter.
JournalShare is striving to become established on a solid financial footing. Funding is needed to acquire operating facilities and equipment, increase journal inventory to meet library demands, produce a computer database for managing the journal inventory, recruit staff to support growth under the business plan, and increase journal donations to recipient libraries. JournalShare is registered with the United States Internal Revenue Service as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation.
further information please contact:
Merle Colglazier, MDiv, MSLS, AHIP
JournalShare has worked with other charities in arranging
shipments of medical journals, including the Emergency Medical
Response Agency, The Binational Fulbright Commission (Egypt), The
Denton Program (US State Department), Bless The Children, and The
American Friendship Library Project. Financial and operating
support has been received from the Soros Foundation and Bon
Secours-Richmond Health System. Promotional support has come from
the Medical Society of Virginia, Harvard University Library, the
International Cooperation Section of the Medical Library
Association, the National Federation of Catholic Physicians'
Guilds, Readmore Inc., and the American Friends Service
Science and technology information
in South Africa
New directions for library and information services
In 1996, the British Library Research and Innovation Centre commissioned a report on the status of Libraries and Information in South Africa. Geoffrey Hamilton, its author and formerly head of the British Library Newspaper Library, comments on the availability of science and technology information in the country.
South Africa has always exhibited extreme disparities of economic and social conditions. The policy aspirations of the government of the 'new South Africa' can have only a limited impact in the short term on the inequalities resulting from historical biases in resource allocation and former social and educational policies, together with an insufficient infrastructure of essential services and utilities.
A number of recent government initiatives have been aimed at identifying new directions and structures for library and information services. Particularly striking is the very positive way in which proposals are being pursued within the context of the ANC's Reconstruction and Development Programme, which emphasises equality in the provision of and access to services.
Substantial cuts in journal subscriptions
To date, scientific and technical information has been available in South Africa mainly through special libraries, serving industrial, commercial and governmental organisations. A notable example is the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), which serves external clients as well as internal users. Some academic libraries have important resources of scientific and technical literature, but in recent years funding restrictions have forced these libraries to make substantial cuts in journal subscriptions. Technikon libraries have a utilitarian approach to collection development and do not retain material which is no longer relevant to learning needs. The State Library in Pretoria is a national library which covers all subjects and runs the decentralised South African Interlending System, used mainly by academic and special libraries.
The National Department of Agriculture
Current developments in information technology are by no means passing South Africa by. Academic libraries are linked to one another by computer networks. Commercial services offering access to international and South African databases are available from private sector suppliers and from the CSIR. Satellite technology is seen as a solution to the difficulties of wiring up rural and economically disadvantaged communities.
CSIR is one of the organisations developing services for satellite transmission to community based kiosks using touch-screen technology. Such services should minimise difficulties related to the prevalence of illiteracy and very limited IT skills. As elsewhere in Africa, even the literate population does not habitually turn to written sources to satisfy its information needs. Easily accessible interactive services appear to offer the best prospect of supporting personal and community development in the new South Africa.
A green paper on science and technology issued by the South African Government in 1995, defines the appropriate information infrastructure for what it calls 'SET (science, engineering and technology) performers'. Information sharing and access to information are key areas, and central to this issue are an effective library infrastructure and electronic access to information.
The library system should play a significant role in addressing the need to democratise access to science. Overall co-ordination of acquisition of SET literature and of access to it is imperative. The green paper proposes a review of the existing structures' capability of delivering services to the SET information consumers. Services which provide the public with SET information should be redesigned to take account of IT changes.
To address these issues South Africa is increasingly seeking examples and inspiration from neighbouring countries in Southern Africa or even Pan-African experiences. The country participated in the 1994 Pan-African seminar on Information Provision to Rural Communities in Africa - organised by the IFLA Africa and ALP sections - and signed the Gaborone Declaration, comprising resolutions to facilitate access for rural communities to scientific, technical and cultural information. Aspects covered by these resolutions include funding for information services; training; research and evaluation; and the need for information sources which are appropriate for rural communities in terms of content, relevance and language.
African University and National
Librarians Plan for the year 2000
On 6, 7 and 8 December 1996, 52 librarians, mostly from national and university libraries in 17 different African countries, met together in Lesotho to participate in the second Standing Conference of African National and University Librarians in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa (SCANUL-ECS). Diana Rosenberg was present and writes about the meeting's results.
The theme of the conference was: Challenges for African University and National Libraries in the 21st century: the impact of the economy, structural adjustment programmes and information technology. Librarians from the region were joined by colleagues from West Africa, professionals from the library schools and a number of resource persons and interested observers from outside Africa.
Two keynote papers were presented on the first morning. One, by Dr Peter Lor, Director of the State Library of Pretoria, examined the role of national libraries and their relevance to Africa. It also looked at the impact of IT on national libraries. The second, by Diana Rosenberg, formerly of the International African Institute, summarised the findings and conclusions of a recent research project on the current state and future potential of university libraries in Africa (see elsewhere in this issue). These two papers provided the basis for group discussions over the next two days.
One participant captured the mood of the conference when he labelled the past ten years as a 'lost decade' for African library development. With the exception of South Africa, Botswana and some of the private universities, libraries in Africa are dying from lack of institutional and governmental support.
However, instead of dwelling on the decline of libraries, participants developed and discussed strategies and action plans that can reverse the situation.
Chief amongst these are:
A start has already been made on putting some of these plans into action.
A clearinghouse is being established at the University of Zimbabwe. Initially dissemination will take place through the SCANUL-ECS Bulletin. A news and discussions list (listserve) for African librarians and information workers as well as others with an interest in African librarianship is being launched by the State Library of Pretoria.
A directory of Library and Information Services professionals in the SCANUL-ECS region, compiled at the University of Zambia, is nearing completion.
University librarians who took part in the AAAS CD-ROM Project and who met in Zambia concurrently with the African Association of Universities' meeting in January this year agreed to lobby that body with a request to set up a Standing Library Sub-Committee, with a remit to become a 'think-tank' for brainstorming, undertaking research, setting up pilot projects, monitoring conditions of university libraries, etc. INASP is mounting a Workshop on the Collection and Use of Library Statistics on behalf of Sida: SAREC (see elsewhere in this issue) to be held in Zimbabwe in 1997 for librarians in the universities which they support. The resulting guidelines will be available to other libraries.
Abstracting and Indexing in Nigeria...
... a condition for further development of science and technology
In the late seventies, Nigeria made a good start with the development of indices and union lists on available science literature in Nigeria. However, since then all activity on this front has ceased. Maxwell Oyinloye, Collection Development Librarian of Lagos State University, Nigeria issues a pledge for renewed activity in this field.
The importance of science and technology to national development is widely acknowledged and as valid in developing countries as in western societies. In Nigeria during the seventies, the government actively pushed technology transfer by establishing research centres and councils throughout the country and increasing the number of Federal Universities from 2 to 24. Now there are 34 Federal and State Universities in the country. A substantial amount of research takes place, making Nigeria more than simply a consumer of foreign intellectual produce. Since its inception in 1977 the ISDS centre in Nigeria has registered over 2,700 titles, many of them science oriented. And although many of these have since ceased, their number proves that large amounts of information relevant to the country's needs have been committed to paper. However, they are not easily tracked down.
All initiative lost
In the past 20 years Nigeria has taken several steps to increase access to its information resources. The National Board for Technical Education was established in 1977. One of its mandates was to collate, analyse and publish information relating to technical and vocational education. In the same year an attempt at bibliographical control was made by the (now defunct) National Science and Technology Development Agency. This resulted in the first and only issue of Nigeria's Directory of Scientific Research. It was to be succeeded only by another promising one-off: the Index to Postgraduate Dissertations in Science and Technology accepted by Nigerian Universities 1948 - 1978. There have been no further initiatives in recent years. Now, the only sources on information on national research are international indices providing incomplete data on a marginal part of the available sources.
Databank long overdue
There is an unabated need for abstracting and indexing of scientific journals in Nigeria. If Nigerian scientists are to support the development of (science and technology in) the country they need to be offered the opportunity to build on past achievements through access to available information. Adequate publicity should be given to scientific publications through notices, brochures, publishers' announcements and reviews in national dailies. The Federal Ministry of Science and Technology - in collaboration with, for instance, the National Agency for Science and Engineering Infrastructure (NASENI) - should set up a body responsible for the gathering of both published and unpublished scientific papers. The creation of a databank for scientific information in Nigeria is long overdue.
Latin America to start its own science journals index
A 1994 meeting in Guadalajara (Mexico) about which we reported in issue 4 of this Newsletter was one of the triggers for a group of specialists from the National University of Mexico to design a project for the construction of an automated scientific periodicals information system for Latin America and the Caribbean. Ana Mar’a Cetto describes the system baptised LATINDEX.
The increased use of electronic means of communication world-wide has made it possible to offer and acquire automated, up-to-date information in almost every area. Every year more scientists consult electronic data banks for their research and more and more scientific bibliographies in machine readable format are being established and accessed.
Many academics in the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean already use computer facilities for their daily work and scientific information exchange.
Information and communication technologies thus seem to provide a powerful tool for the construction of a comprehensive information system that includes all serial scientific publications produced in the region. Such a system can also be used to catalogue and classify these publications. Moreover, it can provide both editors and scientists with an efficient channel for the rapid production, dissemination and retrieval of research material in a standardised format.
With this in mind, and as a response to suggestions from various members of the scientific community and a recommendation formulated at the 1994 meeting in Guadalajara, a group of specialists based at the National University of Mexico (UNAM) drafted a project for the construction of an automated scientific periodicals information system for Latin America and the Caribbean.
The system named LATINDEX, will in its successive stages provide:
further information please contact:
The project is intended to
cover all areas of the exact, natural and social sciences;
medical and biomedical sciences are excluded in view of the
already existing information services in these disciplines. An
important feature of this project is its regional character. A
handful of previously identified information centres with
experience in the field are invited to collaborate on the
development and implementation of the system.
LATINDEX will thus be an effort of regional co-operation with various regional information centres. A first meeting of specialists from these centres (in February 1997) resulted in the formal adoption of the project and the initiation of the first stage that should lead to a preliminary version of the directory.
Regional Working Groups
At a second meeting in Brazil in September norms and standards for inclusion and classification will be defined, while in October at a third meeting in Cuba hardware and software to be used for the system will be discussed. For all tasks, regional working groups representing the editorial, scientific and information sectors will be formed.
In addition to the above outcomes, the project is expected to positively influence electronic and regional publishing in Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as the standardisation of the Spanish scientific and technical vocabulary. It is hoped that this large, co-operative effort will thus serve as a catalyst for scientific production in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Access to Information
The theme of this year's Indaba - organised in conjunction with the Zimbabwe International Book Fair - will be Access to Information.
Participants to Indaba'97 will convene on the 2nd and 3rd of August at the Holiday Inn Crowne Plaza Monomatapa Hotel in Harare.
registration fee is US$65. Further information can
be obtained from the organisers at:
Special interest groups will
cover the following subjects:
Building on Farmers' Knowledge
Practical and very accessible, this 236 page book - edited by the Dutch trio Joske Bunders, Bertus Haverkort and Wim Hiemstra - looks at the application of biotechnology to agricultural development in developing countries.
The first part of the book assesses the practical, social and political aspects of current practice in animal health, biopesticides and plant breeding in less developed regions. The following chapters examine the potential value of the main 'fruits' of Western biotechnology research to the South and the socio-political consequences of their introduction.
The final part of the study sets out a model for integrating the formal and informal research and development systems. It closes with the conclusion that the development of appropriate biotechnology requires a participatory approach that works from the grassroots upwards, firmly representing farmers' needs to scientists, policy makers and other relevant groups.
The general conclusion, however valuable, reveals no surprises. Nevertheless, the overview of practices and the examination of their contexts that are worthwhile reading for anyone even marginally involved in the development of appropriate biotechnology.
All readers of the ILEIA Newsletter and the Monitor can order a complimentary copy of the book by returning a slip inserted in recent copies of these publications. Libraries on the ILEIA mailing list should already have received a copy automatically.
Otherwise the book can only be purchased through:
Basingstoke RG21 6XS, UK
Important Trees of Haiti
Important Trees of Haiti (418 pp.) is an inventory of Haitian trees in two parts. Part one lists the 17 species most important to Haitian rural life. It describes extensively the characteristics, utilisation and propagation of among others mahogany, coconut palm, mango, avocado and different citrus fruit trees. Part two contains technical notes on pests and diseases, wood properties, medicinal uses and other relevant issues, together with a complete inventory of the other species found in the country.
The book is the result of research and extension activities in agroforestry supported by USAID since 1981. Relevant requests for a complimentary copy can be addressed to:
The South-East Consortium for International Development (SECID)
1634 I Street, NW, Suite 702
Washington, DC 20006, USA
Directory of European Research Institutions in the Field of Tropical, Subtropical and Mediterranean Forests
This 158 page directory, edited by Markus Radday and Achim Pfriender, is an initiative of the information service of the European Tropical Forest Research Network (ETFRN), which aims at stimulating joint research activities between European institutions and their partners in the South. The publication is based on the ETFRN database on European tropical forest research organisations which was completely updated and extended in 1996.
The directory provides a comprehensive overview of more than 450 European research institutions engaged in tropical, subtropical or Mediterranean forest research in a broad sense. All entries include addresses, names of contact persons as well as subject and geographical coverage. Three indices are included to allow consultation on subject areas, geographical areas and experts' names.
The directory is available free of charge from:
ETFRN Co-ordination unit
c/o The Tropenbos Foundation
PO Box 232
6700 AE Wageningen
|The next Newsletter
will be published in November1997. If you would like to
contribute to its contents or publicise your project,
please write to the editorial address on the front page
of this newsletter.
Contributions must be received by 1 October 1997.
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