International Network for the Availability
of Scientific Publications

Newsletter

No. 24, November 2003 ISSN: 1028-0790 Special issue  

In this issue:

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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.

Address:
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Website: <www.inasp.info

Visiting address:

Guest Editors:
Peter Ballantyne and Diana Rosenberg
Newsletter Editor:
Pippa Smart
Layout & artwork:
Ard Jongsma

 

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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Information partnerships and networking

by Peter Ballantyne and Diana Rosenberg

One of the hottest trends in the research and development sectors has been the growth of 'networks' as mechanisms to mobilise expertise and share knowledge. These networks have spread far and wide and, fuelled by the ultimate network, the Internet, we can see a new way of working - 'networking' - beginning to emerge.

The boom in networks and networking has also contributed to a
much wider interest in different forms of cooperation and collaboration, often called partnership or partnerships between and among various organizations.

While collaboration as a means to share resources has been practiced by the library community for many years, partnerships are emerging as key means by which all kinds of information resources and capacities can be shared and made available to us all.

While precise definitions of networking and partnership in the information and development sectors are still evolving, all around us we can see people and organizations experimenting with both.

In this special issue therefore, we asked various people to tell us about information networking and partnerships in their context. The results illustrate how information professionals are networking together to become more effective, how information itself is being 'networked' to reach more people, ways in which partnerships are being set up to widen access to various information resources, and how different types of consortia, cooperatives, and collaboration are being set up to address different needs.


In the first two articles, Irene Lorete and Joel Sam illustrate the operation of information exchange networks in the health and agriculture fields respectively. While Joel's article gives a more institutional picture of the set up and sustainability of a national network, Irene shares concrete tips on how to attract users and members to use a network's services.

Ibrahima Bob's short note argues that local health information professionals in Africa need to network locally as well as more widely, in his case through country chapters of AHILA.

Maurice Kisenyi shows how information workers in Kenya have got together precisely to capture, document, and conserve their local library materials.

The following three articles all look at the development of library consortia. Increasingly recognized as an important way to widen access while also maximising the use of scarce resources, recent developments in Malawi and Ethiopia are highlighted.

Monica Allmand's note on the CGIAR library consortium shows that these approaches pay off even among relatively well-funded organizations. As was mentioned above, scientific, learned and professional associations have long been at the forefront of information exchange and networking.

Three contributions explore how information professionals and librarians can themselves benefit from the professional opportunities and exposure that such associations offer.

Finally, we highlight several projects and initiatives that illustrate different modes of cooperation among information and communication professionals.

UAICT-Africa is a joint venture by several university libraries to share information on their uses of ICTs.

ELAND, Euforic, and AGORA illustrate different partnership approaches that aim to enhance access to information in their fields of interest.

The final article on ALPSP shows how publishers are also beginning to band together to gain greater exposure for their products.
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Indigenous networking: Attracting and  keeping your 'clients'

by Irene Lorete

Running an information hub is similar to marketing, but with a twist, and for the Asian Harm Reduction Network (AHRN) this 'twist' is harm reduction.

Our members are the clients, our services are the products, and in order to 'sell' these products, we must ensure that they are useful and accessible. Once they are known as such, 'marketing' snowballs with little effort.

That in itself is the indigenous networking principle behind AHRN. We capitalized on a 'niche group' - the centre of our mandates - and started with one 'product': information dissemination.

Networking and internet-mediated communication

How do you link-up programmes with expertise attuned to local needs without costly plane tickets? Where can people go for quick, up-to-date information considering limited resources?

Information hubs are today's by-word where bridging time, distance and resources are utmost. At its core is the Internet, the current media of choice for quick, real-time exchanges of information or discussions via websites or email.

But have we maximized the Internet according to our needs? Easy access to information is excellent but it can also be overwhelming. Providing userfriendly support services is then crucial.

The Asian Harm Reduction Network (AHRN) was conceived because of the need to link people and resources involved in HIV/AIDS prevention. The AIDS virus has found an entry vessel through the pointed tips of shared needles, establishing epidemics among individuals who use drugs in some Asian countries and threatening larger society.

The AHRN Secretariat in Thailand serves as a hub in order to carry out its mandates: networking, advocacy, information sharing, training, and programme and policy development for people keen on promoting health among individuals who use drugs.

Since 1999, The AHRN clearinghouse has been collecting and digitising resources which became available a year later from the Information Sharing Facility at www.ahrn.net. Access generated (free) memberships and members also received the AHRN newsletter by regular mail. The ahrnlist - a discussion group hosted at yahoo groups - also sent out news and queries and responses.


Our members are a niche of people interested in one thing: drug use and HIV/AIDS in Asia. With these services, we captured their interests, "But how do we sustain it?" we asked ourselves.

Windows of AHRN

So last year, we decided to spruce up these services with the hiring of new staff. News on the ahrn-list were reformatted into the Drug Use and HIV/AIDS News Digest - a compilation of current news in easyto- use html format. A bi-monthly Network Bulletin followed, stocked with trainings, vacancies, events, funding and new resources related to drug use.

With more staff at the Clearinghouse, AHRN embarked on a more active 'backroom' service provision, replying to inquiries promptly, keeping a keen eye on vital issues and establishing relationship with individuals and organizations who are key players in harm reduction in the region.

Keeping in mind that not everyone is wired to the Internet, the AHRN newsletter started reporting on key issues in the field (policies, programme, advocacy) and extended its network bulletin with country updates, regional meeting reports, current news, etc.

Recently, the Information Sharing Facility underwent a facelift. It combined AHRN's archive of printed and on-line resources and made it accessible through a simpler, keyword search engine.

And how do we know that these information services work? ahrn-list membership increased by nearly 50% after service reformatting, and new members continue to register nearly daily. The newsletter is also getting its share of good feedback from its recipients and requests for new memberships.

The AHRN Clearinghouse has also started training in-country harm reduction networks that will duplicate its services on a smaller scale, hence supporting networking on a national level and making it easier for AHRN to get country updates.

Essentially, these services have become windows to what AHRN and its members are doing under the network's five mandates. The organization's role has since been extended into a specialized information hub on drug use in the region. A stable five-year core funding (approved in 2001) from the Royal Netherlands Government was also key in achieving this status.

More information from:
Irene Lorete
Asian Harm Reduction Network
Email:  
<www.ahrn.net

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Information networking for Ghana's agricultural research and development

by Joel Sam

The Ghana Agricultural Information Network System (GAINS) was established in 1992 as part of the National Agricultural Research Project (NARP). Its aim is to facilitate the dissemination of agricultural information to policy and decision makers, research scientists, planners, lecturers, students, extension workers, and farmers. GAINS links the libraries of all the main stakeholders in agricultural information provision in Ghana.

Importance of information networking

Library and information systems in the agricultural sector in Ghana used to operate independently of each other resulting in an uneven development and duplication. There was therefore the need to establish a networking system with the view to:

  • Reduce duplication of research activities - know what each other is doing
  • Share information on research activities and findings
  • Reduce costs
  • Learn information management skills
  • Bring together scattered agricultural research information
  • Make a greater impact on research efforts
  • Ensure even development of agricultural information infrastructure
  • Make available and easily accessible current information
  • Improve the planning, design and execution of research, including the diffusion of research results.

Approaches to networking

A number of approaches to networking were adopted. It was agreed that there should be a phased approach in which activities to be undertaken in each phase would be clearly defined and discussed with the partners.

One basic principle agreed on was collaboration to facilitate resource sharing, minimize unnecessary duplication of resources, and to increase comprehensiveness in literature resources. A central focus for agricultural information was therefore adopted with a Coordinating Centre seen by all the partners as playing a leading role in the implementation of the network. In addition, agricultural information services should be perceived and provided in a holistic manner to ensure even development. A Technical Management Committee was set up from participating institutions to draw up detailed plans for staffing, equipping, stocking and services.


Furthermore, agricultural librarians needed to collaborate in identification of key literature resources, developing physical structures, and in user surveys. It must be stressed that the process of consultation and consensus building was used a lot during the formative stages of the network. It was undertaken at various levels (top management and middle management as well as the information personnel level) where roles, responsibilities, and benefits - both individual and collective - were discussed and common strategies adopted. This approach was preferred to imposing guidelines from a central point.

Results of networking

Though people generally appreciate the positive impact of networking, they sometimes also think that by coming together they are being asked to do more work than before. Thus the issue of what benefits they will derive (individually and institutionally) was taken seriously.

The results of agricultural information networking in Ghana over the past ten years have been tremendous. From the institutional point of view, the main benefit was the development of a functional network that coordinated all the fragmented agricultural information resources and made them easily available and accessible to the partners. This reduced considerably the time required to search for information and to know which institute has what information. Furthermore, the resources of the various information centres, which previously were not available to outside users, could be accessed through the network.

In addition, the GAINS Coordinating Centre was built and other libraries were rehabilitated or extended. Basic items of equipment such as computers, copiers, air conditioners, and phones were supplied at the inception of the network. Each participating institute was allocated 4-5 specialist journals yearly and thirty-five books. CDROM facilities were installed at five sites.

A computerized database was also developed. This indexes Ghana's agricultural research from the colonial period to the present and contains largely unpublished literature such as research reports, annual reports, consultancy reports and dissertations. It was the first database to bring together the fragmented and scattered agricultural research literature in Ghana.

Information personnel benefited immensely from local and overseas training programmes. Nine local training programmes were also organized for information personnel to update their knowledge in areas like information marketing, CDS/ISIS, and information retrieval. Training was also provided to personnel in participating research institutions to help them keep abreast of new trends in information management. Frequent face-to-face interactions fostered unity and cooperation among the partners.

Lessons and challenges

In implementing the GAINS project over the past ten years, lessons learned include:
  • Commitment of partners is vital. Without this, the modest successes would not have been possible.
  • Ownership of the process has been very important since no partner has felt alienated.
  • Roles and responsibilities of partners needed to be clearly defined from the onset.
  • Differences in opinion have been resolved in a transparent and timely manner.
  • Benefits of networking needed to be made apparent to all partners.
  • Respect for and appreciation of each other's contributions is very crucial.
  • Involvement and commitment of top management contributed to the achievements.
  • A champion to drive the process is essential. It was emphasized that the library was not for the librarians and there was the need for the users to drive the process.
  • Resources to be shared should be clear to all partners.
  • All should adhere to deadlines.

In spite of the progress made, current challenges include:

  • Lack of qualified personnel and high staff turnover in some partner institutes. This means there is a recurring problem of lack of in-depth knowledge and skills in information technology in some institutes. Even in situations where there was no staff turnover, the frequent changes of staff representing an institute on GAINS matters did not bring about consistency and continuity of work.
  • Lack of incentives for the staff of partner institutes hampers project activities, as they are not motivated enough to carry out project activities which some of them view as an additional assignment.
  • Inadequate logistical support continues to be a drawback in some partner institutions. The main problems are access to the literature and lack of computers.
  • There is an uneven development of basic infrastructure in the partner institutes. Those with good management support have a relatively better-developed basic infrastructure than in the others.
  • Late reporting, different formats or no reporting of project activities delays the quarterly reports. Reports submitted in most cases do not follow the reporting format agreed on.
  • Lack of library budget for some partner institutes has contributed in no small measure to the uneven development of the network. The tendency has been to depend on the Coordinating Centre for continuous supply of basic equipment.

Conclusion

Networking of the agricultural information system has enhanced the landscape of agriculture infrastructure and research activities in Ghana. It has led to a steady growth and improvement in agriculture information delivery and skilled personnel. For the system to have a long-term sustainability, the partner libraries need to show more commitment and to be better resourced by their parent organizations. The partners should also come to realize that the network is their own creation and it is in their own interest to be part of it.

More information from:
Joel Sam
Ghana Agricultural Information Network System
Email:  
GAINS: <www.gains.org.gh

 

The GAINS network

Biotechnology and Nuclear Agricultural Research Institute
Animal Research Institute
Crops Research Institute
Food Research Institute
Forestry Research Institute of Ghana
Institute of Industrial Research
Oil Palm Research Institute
Plant Genetic Resources Centre
Savanna Agricultural Research Institute
Science and Technology Policy Research Institute Soil Research Institute
Water Research Institute
Faculty of Agriculture, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology
Faculty of Agriculture, University for Development Studies
Faculty of Agriculture, University of Ghana Ministry of Food and Agriculture
School of Agriculture, University of Cape Coast

 

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Newsletters - vital tools to network library professionals

by Anthony Olden

A library association is a professional network that binds together individual librarians and advances the profession and the causes it believes in. Many national library associations in Africa are relatively small as yet, and need all the support they can get.

As part of the Carnegie Corporation of New York's Revitalization of Public Libraries programme in Africa, INASP ran a scheme in 2000/01, 2001/02 and 2002/03 to assist associations to do more for their members. Money was provided to bring out newsletters and put on continuing education workshops. Botswana and Kenya were the first beneficiaries of newsletter support, followed by Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Newsletters provide news and opinion, as well as reports on conferences, seminars and workshops. They keep people in touch and provide a member with something tangible for his or her subscription.

Under the scheme editors exchanged newsletters with each other as well as distributing them to their own members. This aids the spread of good practice as well as of news. It needs to be said, however, that producing a newsletter is a lot of work for its editor and for the members of the editorial committee. Contributors need encouraging (and chasing), and there are times when the editor has to write a good deal of the text.

Good editors - like other good members of an association's executive - are very committed. But what happens when they have to give up the editorship? For example, when the opportunity to further their studies or to take up a new professional post comes their way? This happened in Uganda, Botswana and Zambia. Fortunately, equally committed successors usually take over and continue on with the work. Good editors progress quickly in their careers!


Newsletters help to publicize the profession, and a good newsletter will impress anyone who sees it. Thus, the Principal of the University College of Land and Architectural Studies in Dar es Salaam was so impressed by the Tanzania Library Association's newsletter that he requested one of its editorial committee (who also happened to be the head of his library) to start a newsletter for the College -and to bring it out quarterly instead of twice a year.

Anthony Olden
Thames Valley University
Email:  


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Collaborating to preserve Kenya's information heritage

by Maurice Kisenyi

The Kenya Information Preservation Society (formerly the Kenya National Microfilming Society) had its beginning in an ad-hoc meeting of a few librarians and archivists in June 1990. This meeting had been called to discuss the problems of inaccessibility of back issues of newspapers. This small gathering realized that there was a serious need to conserve and preserve not only the Kenyan newspapers but also deteriorating collections of rare materials in the country - photographs, maps, books, and journals. There was agreement that a cooperative microfilming programme should be started, and thus the Kenya National Microfilming Society came into being. The draft constitution was adopted in 1992, and the Society was registered in 1993. The broad objective of the Society was to facilitate the preservation and conservation of Kenya's national information heritage.

The constitution provided for membership of academic and nonacademic institutions as well as individuals. Membership subscriptions were to cover the basic administrative costs of the Society. The constitution also made provision for an Executive Committee to handle day to day activities. The Society was officially launched in July 1994 and, since that time, a number of projects have been undertaken to fulfil the objectives of the organization. By August 2002, members of the Executive Committee realized that the name Kenya National Microfilming Society did not adequately cover all the activities of the Society and a new name, Kenya Information Preservation Society (KIPS), was adopted.

The Executive Committee meets every other month at the National Archives. As of September 2003, the Committee consists of three university librarians, three archivists, one former government librarian, and three librarians from public libraries. Thus far, the Society has existed with no significant grant; a small amount of funding, USD 500, was received for one project. The excellent support of the National Archives in providing a meeting place for the Executive Committee, assistance with photocopying, telephone calls, and other communications must be acknowledged.

Projects

The following activities have been undertaken by the Society:

  • Small posters featuring aspects of preservation and conservation of library materials have been distributed to approximately 40 Kenya libraries. The colourful illustrations were created by a local artist.
  • A conference was organized in March 2003, with approximately 50 participants to discuss Information Preservation Challenges in the 21st Century.
  • A booklet on the preservation of paper-based information materials was compiled and made ready for distribution.
  • Details of Nairobi firms dealing with microfilming were compiled, verified and made available to interested institutions.
  • A survey of the microfilms held in Kenyan libraries and research institutions was undertaken and the results were published.
  • A union list of theses and dissertations held by universities and research organizations in Kenya is being compiled. This list also includes details of theses and dissertations which reflect research undertaken in Kenya but which are held by institutions located outside Kenya. The list is available on CD-ROM. Issue no. 1 of the Union List, distributed in March 2003 contained citations of approximately 3,000 theses/dissertations. This number does not represent the complete listings of all the universities, but a start has been made and more citations for the different universities will appear in future issues of the Union List. Abstracts will also be included, when available. The possibility of mounting the database on the website of the Kenya National Archives is being explored.
  • The needs of the MacMillan Library, a Nairobi City Council public library established in 1931, have been given significant attention by the Executive Committee. A proposal for funding for the much-needed preservation of newspapers, photographs, periodicals and rare African books held by the MacMillan was drawn up.
  • A brochure giving details of the Kenya Information Preservation Society has been published.

The future

The existence of the Kenya Information Preservation Society, through the past ten years, has depended more on the energies and commitment of the members of the Executive Committee than on financial resources. The small number of librarians and archivists who have participated in the various projects of KIPS have worked together voluntarily to address national preservation and conservation problems. The achievements have been worthwhile, but there are many projects yet to be undertaken.

In future, special attention will be paid to increasing the membership of the Society so that its projects are more widely supported. The Executive Committee realizes that it must work closely with a great variety of information centres to be able to fulfil its objectives.

More information from:
Maurice Kisenyi
Kenya Information Preservation Society
Email:  

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AHILA - Health information networking in Africa

by Ibrahima Bob

The 'globalization' of health information can be a bit of a distraction for an African health information community that is still trying to identify concrete strategies and approaches to solve local problems. The long time habit to rely on global networking and partnerships is now fading and the current trend is to use ICTs - both traditional and modern - to develop networks at local and then regional levels. These complement and extend the reach of global efforts such as HINARI.

Health information specialists in Africa seek to improve healthcare practice and health policy by utilising the best available evidence. Good available evidence might be produced from research in the west, but the best available evidence can also be at the local level - if the key health stakeholders (those with the right and the relevant health information that can solve local problems) get together. This is why information networking and partnerships among the diverse institutions (agencies, research labs, care providers, development workers, advocates, NGOs etc.) in a particular region are vitally important to the African health information community.

It is why the Association for Health Information and Libraries in Africa (AHILA) decided at its last congress in Mali to put all its efforts into health information partnerships and networking at the local level.

To better respond to emerging local needs, AHILA local chapters, such as SENAHILA in Senegal, are being developed. Working with groups like UNESCO, the World Health Organization, INASP and many others, the general aims of these chapters are to:

  • reduce the lack of communication between organizations and institutions working in the health sector;
  • combine their resources;
  • promote self-development through the use of resources available among the members of the network.

Countries like Uganda, Malawi, Kenya, Swaziland and Tanzania have started their local chapters. Perhaps when all AHILA country chapters are live, we will be able to revive the African Index Medicus - that aims to give access to health-related information published in or related to Africa and to encourage local health publishing.

Beyond this, a key challenge is to find groups that prioritize health information and can also take it beyond the existing medical structures to community development workers, youth, women, policy makers, media, and health care workers.

More information from:
Ibrahima Bob
Association for Health Information and Libraries in Africa (AHILA)
Email:  
AHILA: <www.ahila.org
HINARI: <www.healthinternetwork.org
INASP-Health: <www.inasp.info/health

 

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Building a consortium of Ethiopian academic and research libraries

by Teklemichael Tefera

Efforts to establish a library consortium in Ethiopia began in September 1998, when academic librarians in the country met for the first time to participate in the Workshop on National Information Resources Sharing, organized by the Addis Ababa University Library System.

Recognizing the ever-decreasing acquisitions budget on one hand and the escalating prices of information resources on the other hand, it was felt that collaboration through setting up a legal coordinating body was vital. It was made top priority in the agenda of discussion during the three days of the workshop.

Position papers on various areas of cooperation were presented and discussed. However, detailed documents outlining consortium objectives, activities, plan of establishment, strategies, and so on were not prepared beforehand.

A steering committee to work on such matters was set up but no work has been done from that day onwards. This partly explains why the initial efforts less than successful.

A second attempt to establish a Consortium of Ethiopian Academic Libraries was made in February 2003. It emerged from the Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information (PERI) that helps us to meet demands for current academic and research information through access to e-resources.

The Addis Ababa University Library System, which is the coordinating institution of PERI in Ethiopia, felt the pressing need to sustain electronic information resources arranged through PERI and took the initiative to draft a document to establish an academic libraries consortium (which was lacking in the 1998 attempt). This was then presented for discussion in the workshop organized by INASP and the AAU Library System on Electronic Journals and Electronic Resources Library Management, held between 24 and 28 February 2003, with participating librarians from academic institutions in Ethiopia.

Experiences from Zimbabwe, Turkey, South Africa and some European countries were used in the preparation of the establishing document. Participants of the workshop deliberated on the issue and came up with an action plan to go forward. 

A steering committee was established to finalize the draft document and follow through the rest of the activities. The draft document was sent to all academic institutions in mid-April 2003. Higher university officials have had the chance to see and give feedback on the document through their librarians.

The final document incorporating all the feedback was submitted to the Ministry of Education through the Addis Ababa University President early in May 2003. At the beginning of June 2003, a detailed explanation was given to Ministry officials who then responded with an official letter written to the AAU President in support of the effort.

A further step was to develop a draft memorandum of understanding, which will be signed by each member institution of the consortium. The draft was circulated to librarians, legal professionals and researchers within AAU and a half day workshop was also conducted (at the end of July 2003) to discuss and get feedback.

It was our initial plan to restrict membership to only academic institutions; however, as we moved forward, we realized that the involvement of research libraries is also very crucial and this is incorporated in the draft memorandum of understanding. It has brought a name change to the consortium: 'Consortium of Ethiopian Academic and Research Libraries'.

The draft memorandum was presented in the follow-on workshop on Electronic Journals and Electronic Resources Library Management, held between 18 and 22 August 2003 for librarians from research and development institutions in the country.

We are now in the process of finalizing the memorandum of understanding based on various feedback and comments. It will hopefully be endorsed by librarians from academic and research institutions in a half day meeting tentatively planned for October 2003. Thereafter, it will be signed by officials of the participating institutions.

In a nutshell, in spite of some procedural delays, our efforts seem to have been well received at every corner. This is partly because the technical infrastructure that enables ready access to online resources is now in place. Participating institutions and librarians are also beginning to see that working together can vastly enhance the access they each have to costly electronic resources.

More information from:
Teklemichael Tefera
Addis Ababa University Libraries
Email:  

 

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A Malawi library consortium: Learning as we go

by S. S. Mwiyeriwa and M. E. Ngwira


A moment of refreshment at Lake Malawi for 
SOLINET trainers and MALICO members

In common with several other countries in Southern Africa, Malawi has recently established its own Library and Information Consortium  - MALICO. In 2002, a Consortium Startup Grant was provided by the eIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries) project of the Open Society Initiative. This was one of the catalysts - together with the access to e-literature offered by the PERI project - that gave rise to a flood of activity that resulted in the birth of MALICO on 7 May 2003 at a stakeholder workshop.

Leaders of academia, chief librarians from a wide variety of libraries, representatives of ISPs and NGOs and others, including the media, gathered at a pleasant new hotel in Blantyre. 'Mutu umodzi susenza denga: one head cannot hold up a roof' was the Chichewa proverb presented to the gathering by the guest of honour, Dr. Chrissie Mwiyeriwa in her opening address, showing clearly the benefits of working together. Other papers were presented on the potential role of a consortium, the benefits of access to electronic information, and future Internet scenarios for Malawi. In the afternoon, after reaching consensus on the necessity for a library and information consortium, participants considered issues such as 'How can MALICO be sustainable?' and 'What are the core functions of MALICO?' It was decided that in order for an organization to join MALICO, it must pay a fee of MK 20,000 (about USD 200 at the time).

The proceedings of the workshop were produced shortly after the meeting and became a key resource for MALICO. In addition a web site and e-mail address and an e-Newsletter were initiated to keep members in touch.

A training workshop was held at Bunda College on 18-20 June 2003, facilitated by two resource persons from SOLINET in the USA, Loretta O'Brien Parham and Sandra Phoenix. Librarians who would have a major responsibility for running the consortium, and others such as a representative of SchoolNet Malawi participated. The task was challenging - brand new territory for many present: to turn the concept of MALICO into a functioning reality through development of a mission, vision, constitution and terms of agreement. The core functions were refined and consolidated into four task forces whose output will be vital to the success of MALICO: Advocacy, Collaboration, Products and Services, and Funding and Fees. Almost to the surprise of the participants, success was achieved!

MALICO currently has six member organizations: the University of Malawi, Mzuzu University, National Research Council, National Library Service Malawi, Bureau of Standards, and the Reserve Bank of Malawi, with several more potential members. The lawyer's advice is that MALICO should be a trust. MALICO is in the process of registering, as much depends on being a legal entity.

At the first Council meeting, an Executive was put in place for one year initially in that it is expected that membership will be considerably expanded by next year. The Chair is provided by the University of Malawi library; the Vice-Chair by Mzuzu University library. Some tough issues had to be resolved, and the process is ongoing. The relationship between MALA, the Malawi Library Association, and MALICO was subject to much thought. It was realized that the two organizations are mutually supportive but have different functions. MALICO, an institutional membership organization functions primarily in the area of purchasing electronic information and in connectivity matters. Another challenge is representation of the various institutions; for example the University of Malawi has 5 sites, each of which is a beneficiary of MALICO, but should each be on the Council?

Shortly, MALICO will come of age, in that it must collect a first financial contribution from its members towards our e-subscriptions. This is healthy for MALICO in that, currently, the purse holders of the parent organizations may be asking what the benefits of MALICO are to them. These e-resources are  'deliverables': our training workshop emphasized that deliverables are vital.


In spite of the wide variety of electronic resources that are available to Malawi through the PERI project and HINARI, the quality of Internet connectivity is often a great hindrance to access. This constraint was presented to eIFL at the St Petersburg General Assembly in December 2002. This has resulted in support from eIFL through the Open Society Initiative of Southern Africa for the provision of VSATS to improve connectivity at four MALICO sites. This may give MALICO the opportunity to become an Internet Service Provider for the library and academic sector, with the accompanying challenges. We are living in exciting times!

The past few months have been action packed and the next few promise to be more so. The profile has been raised through good publicity, contact between various types of libraries is being enhanced and there is every indication that MALICO is here to stay!

More information from:
S. S. Mwiyeriwa & M. E. Ngwira
Malawi Library and Information Consortium (MALICO)
Email:  
WWW: <www.bunda.sdnp.org.mw/malico.htm>  

 

 

CGIAR consortium takes shape

by Monica Allmand

Librarians and information managers working in the Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research recently established the CGIAR Libraries and Information Services Consortium (CGIARLISC).  Driven by constantly changing information needs of end users, advances in information and communication technologies, and limited financial and human resources, consortium members committed themselves to:

  • Share resources and knowledge, such as joint journal subscriptions, document delivery services, content, expertise, technologies, and processes.
  • Facilitate access to information held at all the CGIAR Centres.
  • Contribute to the dissemination of CGIAR research output.
  • Jointly develop and execute projects within the CGIAR and in collaboration with other institutions and partners.
  • Exchange best practices in knowledge and information management.

So far, the group has:

  • Developed and maintained a CGIAR library portal providing access to all CGIAR library resources.
  • Set up and maintained a union catalogue of serial holdings of the various CGIAR centre Libraries.
  • Negotiated discounted joint subscriptions to journals and databases such as Science Online and eCAB.
  • Agreed to work with a common journal aggregator for all centres (Swets Blackwell).
  • Collaborated with other organizations like FAO and INASP in promoting free access to electronic documents.
  • Purchased a document delivery software - Ariel - which legalizes inter-library loans and hastens electronic document delivery across the centres.

Overall, the benefits realized through the consortium include stronger buying power, access to collective technical expertise, greater resource sharing (digital and traditional media), enhanced staff development, risk sharing, and joint grant-seeking and lobbying.

More information from:
Monica Allmand
Email:  


Members of CGIARLISC:

CGIAR - CGIAR Secretariat, USA
CIAT - International Centre for Tropical Agriculture, Colombia
CIFOR - Centre for International Forestry Research, Indonesia
CIMMYT - International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre, Mexico
CIP - International Potato Centre, Peru
ICARDA - International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas, Syria
ICRISAT - International Crops Research Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics, India
IFPRI - International Food Policy Research Institute, USA
ILRI - International Livestock Research Institute, Kenya and Ethiopia
IITA - International Institute of Tropical Agriculture, Nigeria
IPGRI - International Plant Genetic Resources Institute, Italy
IRRI - International Rice Research Institute, Philippines
ISNAR - International Service for National Agricultural Research, Netherlands
IWMI - International Water Management Institute, Sri Lanka
WARDA - West Africa Rice Development Association, Cote d'Ivoire
World Agroforestry Centre, Kenya
WorldFish Centre, Malaysia


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Revitalising professional associations  - Lessons from the Tanzania Library Association

by Alli Mcharazo

I have been the Chair of Tanzania Library Association (TLA) since early in 2000. I accepted this responsibility when the TLA was not performing well. Among the reasons for this poor performance was the lack of clear strategic vision/objectives and lack of management skills amongst TLA leaders.

The new Executive Committee of TLA realized the magnitude of these problems. As a remedy, TLA embarked on the task of developing an action plan, with clear strategic objectives, that would set the association back on the move. The components of the plan were:

  • a strategic document with a clear vision and realistic achievable development components;
  • membership revival;
  • constitutional changes to reflect new developments;
  • organization and sound leadership (governance);
  • co-operation and international relations;
  • empowerment;
  • resource generation;
  • professional training and education;
  • accreditation;
  • revival of publications;
  • standards (creation, enforcement and maintenance);
  • assessment of needs of various types of library and information institutions.

Some of these strategic development components have started to be realized:

  • a strategic plan document and a revised constitution are in the making and expected to be tabled at the annual general meeting in Zanzibar in February 2004;
  • a permanent office and address for TLA has just been obtained;
  • a programme to revive and recruit new members is in place;
  • the Association has renewed its membership to relevant national, regional and international organizations such as East African Book Development Council, Standing Conference on Eastern Central and Southern African Library and Information Associations, International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions, Commonwealth Library Association.

In the course of implementing and realising the above activities, the TLA leadership came to realize that the strength of any library association emanates from its membership. But members have to be assured of benefits that they can gain from the association. TLA had approached INASP for support towards the publication of Matukio Newsletter. INASP kindly agreed to support the Association and the first issue was released in December 2001 and distributed free-of-charge to various institutional and individual members. This went hand in hand with publicity in the media and various forums, on the significance of having a strong library association.

Many organizations are strategically changing and TLA felt that libraries and information units have a significant role in effecting these changes. But not many library personnel are aware of aspects of strategic planning and thinking. A workshop on strategic planning for library and information units was organized and successfully conducted in Morogoro in February 2002. About 120 library and information personnel attended it. Library associations are democratically-run organizations, so the workshop ended by having an annual general meeting that elected TLA office bearers. These activities instilled a sense of confidence and reassurance in the TLA and its new leadership by the actual and potential members. Various professional meetings in the form of workshops and seminars on the issues of the day were conducted and well attended by members and other interested non-members. Some of these were on the role of libraries and information units in the war against HIV/AIDS; planning for library automation; Internet use for libraries; and Internet for long-serving librarians.

The above meetings would not have taken place without the financial and material support from stakeholders and library sympathizers and lovers. This reminds us of the significance of working in partnership to bring about best results. Various institutions were approached for their donations, and most of them, such as INASP, British Council, Norwegian Library Association, IFLA, Tanzania Commission for Science and Technology, University of Dar es Salaam, Tanzania Book Development Council (BAMVITA) and some publishers, reciprocated well. Some institutions supported the association in other areas. The Equal Opportunities for All (EOTF), for example, donated office desks and chairs. The Honourable Mama Anna Mkapa (the wife of His Excellency President Benjamin Mkapa), chair lady of EOTF, handed over the desks to the Chairman of TLA at the official ceremony that took place at the National Central Library. Prior to this, the Norwegian Library Association (NLA) had offered TLA two scholarships for members of TLA to study at the School of Library Archives and Documentation Studies (SLADS), Bagamoyo. A meeting at IFLA Berlin with NLA officials revealed that the scholarships are available again in 2004.


The need to have strong publicity machinery to reach the wider audience has also been in the TLA agenda. So apart from the regular publication of Matukio Newsletter, there is also a well-designed and informative TLA website that was launched at the TLA workshop and AGM in by the Mayor of Morogoro. It was developed with the support from the British Council Dar es Salaam Office. To empower the machinery and contribute towards capacity building of the TLA office, the British Council was kind enough to donate a computer and a fax machine. This is what has been referred to as 'a helping hand to the working hand' or 'working in partnership'. TLA is extremely grateful to its partners.
What remains to be done is to speed up the process of developing a strategic plan document for TLA. The ideas and experiences that TLA has received so far have laid a strong foundation for visualising the way forward. The new TLA administration also realizes the difficulty of achieving the very objectives they have set due to resource limitations and the fact that the office bearers are only volunteers; but they will never rest until the last library and information personnel is enrolled with TLA.

More information from:
Alli Mcharazo
Tanzania Library Association
Email:  
WWW: <www.angelfire.com/al4/tla


 

International professional networking - Reflections on a COMLA presidency

by Elizabeth F. Watson

In 1971, a group of Commonwealth librarians founded the Commonwealth Library Association (COMLA). COMLA's principal mandate is to link Commonwealth library associations (LAs). It also assists in the formation and development of LAs in the Commonwealth. COMLA is therefore very active in developing and strengthening the profession at the LA level. The Commonwealth-linked genesis of this association is quite distinctive in international librarianship because many common factors serve as a nexus across countries in the Commonwealth. Networking is therefore easily facilitated within COMLA. Between 1996 and 2002, I had the privilege of serving as President of this unique library association.

A unique networking forum

Membership of COMLA is open to any member nation of the (British) Commonwealth. Thus, COMLA's membership is representative of the cultural, ethnic, geographical and social mix that gives the Commonwealth its unique character. Networking within such a diverse group is naturally a unique experience. During my Presidency, I was able to make contacts with librarians from every continent. Without my involvement in COMLA such opportunities would have been almost impossible, especially for a librarian from a small Caribbean island.

This networking impacted positively not only on how I practised my profession, but also on my understanding of the world. The ability to share, not only professional developments, concerns and interests with colleagues but also information in other areas extended the boundaries of librarianship in many unique and mutually gratifying ways.

A library school student whom COMLA sponsored to attend a workshop in Zimbabwe, expressed how honoured he felt to be able to attend a professional event that enabled him to meet senior professionals from his country and someone from the Caribbean. The workshop was a turning point in his career development.

In 1996, a connection between COMLA and CoL (the Commonwealth of Learning, another Commonwealth-based institution) led to the publication of a reader on distance librarianship in Commonwealth countries. This 22 article publication explored various issues associated with meeting the information needs of this new cohort of learners. It remains a seminal publication in the field.

Some challenges

While being at the helm of an international LA was professionally and personally rewarding there were also several challenges.

As many LAs in developing countries are hard-pressed to ensure their survival, a frequent question is: how will membership of COMLA be beneficial? The opportunity to network with colleagues; the sharing of common experiences (especially within the south-south divide); the provision of continuing educational opportunities and the strengthening of national LAs are some of the benefits derived from COMLA membership.


At a personal level, time management, communication, recognising cultural differences that affect interpersonal relationships and even fluctuations in national currencies were challenges. Time management within an international LA is of a different order. Contact with colleagues in the Pacific had to be done between my Sundays and Thursdays in recognition of their working week!

While it seems that ICT-based communication is fast becoming the norm, in many developing countries, outside of large urban centres, no assumptions can be made about the reliability of ICTs. During the planning process for a workshop in Botswana, after many unsuccessful attempts to send emails and faxes, a telephone call was attempted. This was only successful after the Barbadian telephone operator called the international telephone operator in Johannesburg for assistance with dialling Botswana.

Networking at an international level requires that one is ever mindful of cultural differences, which, if not observed, can derail even the noblest of intentions. Maori culture does not allow women to be at the periphery of a gathering. That is reserved for the males who assume such a position to protect the females. As someone who suffers from claustrophobia, for me to sit on the inside of a row is an uncomfortable position. However, my own personal discomfort had to be subjugated in order to observe the protocol of my hosts.

The future

The needs of our profession in 2003 and beyond are considerably different from those that existed in 1971. Nevertheless international associations such as COMLA further our profession in many ways. An imperative however is that mandates remain pertinent to members' needs. Periodic reviews facilitate this. Despite the many known and unknown challenges, active participation in the affairs of international associations such as COMLA provide unparalleled opportunities for networking, professional enrichment and personal growth.

More information from:
Elizabeth F. Watson
University of the West Indies, Barbados
Email:  

 

 

UAICT-Africa: Creating an information service through collaboration

by Jörgen Eriksson

The 'Use and Application of ICT in Education and Information Provision in Africa' (UAICT-Africa) project is a joint venture by 10 university libraries, one library science teaching department in Southern Africa, and the R&D department of Lund University Libraries in Sweden. Using content contributed by the various university libraries, the aim is to set up an Internet Resource Catalogue (IRC) on ICTs in education. So far, around 200 resources have been added. The main problem has been slow and unstable Internet connections in the African universities, making resource discovery and adding resources very time consuming.

Why joint Internet Resource Catalogues?

IRCs offer their intended users a set of Internet resources that have been selected with the help of quality criteria, and then described and structured in a standardized way. The main argument to spend time on this is that these resources often drown in a sea of garbage in major search engines, making it a time consuming process to find relevant resources. This is especially true in African universities with low bandwidth and slow connections. There, a pre-selection of quality resources has the potential to save much time of users.

A key aspect of this project is to build an IRC through collaboration across the Internet. The main reasons being: First, by working together the libraries could reduce or avoid duplication; second, by dividing the work among partners, more resources and links can be found and maintained and offered to users; and third, to share costs.

Building the service

The basic idea was that workshops would be the starting and ending points for collaboration. Between the workshops, tasks were assigned to sub-groups with their own mailing lists. The sub-group results were finalized and decided on at the next workshop, where new elements were introduced and new tasks assigned.

Individuals joined different sub-groups according to their competencies and interests. A sub-group chairperson was appointed in each group to ensure that tasks were completed on time. We found out that it was important that the chairperson was very active and could assign clear and concrete tasks to the sub-group members. Otherwise the work easily ground to halt. This problem was more prominent in the earlier stages of the project before participants knew each other.


The last two workshops became more like business meetings where final versions of documents where produced and decisions taken, all based on the preparatory work done in sub-groups, via the general e-mail list and published on the web site.

Overall, this way of working went well and was a good exercise. This comment from the project evaluation illustrates participant views on the way of working: "The listserv acted as a means for virtual meetings but could not act as a platform where a consensus could be reached as compared to workshops where people acted on a single issue once and for all. The listserv also acted as the cheapest way to meet and share ideas and pass information rather than workshops that are expensive and cannot be organized frequently."

A lesson from this project is that the practical creation of a service can be fairly straightforward, but that the time and effort needed to create the collaboration should not be underestimated.

Moreover, as participants came to learn from each other and to build their own capacities, the role of Lund University became more coordination and coaching instead of being the 'expert' with all the solutions.

Sustaining the service

The project participants are now working on the sustainability of the service by trying to get their home institutions to support a consortium to become the 'owner' of the service. It is not very straightforward since in many ways this is a new way of working for the libraries involved. However, most libraries have already agreed to support the maintenance of the service by allocating four hours a week to editorial tasks in UAICT-Africa. If the institutions involved will agree to turn UAICT-Africa into a sustained service, it could illustrate how collaboration in creating and maintaining information services across institutional and national boundaries can be done.

More information:
About the AICT-Africa project: <netlab.lub.lu.se/sida/celi>  
AICT Africa coordinator:
Ms. Babakisi Fidzani
Deputy Director Information and Research Services, University of Botswana Library
Email:  


Jörgen Eriksson
Lund University Libraries
Email:  

 

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ELAND - A European library network for development

by Chris Addison

The European Library Network for Development, ELAND provides access to the catalogues of 10 major development library collections in Europe. It aims to provide access to a joint index of over 1 million articles, books, monographs and full text online resources identified by the participating libraries. The project comprises a web interface to search these catalogues, a translation index of 500 terms in 4 languages, the opportunity for joint working between libraries, and linkages with Southern organizations.

The project arose from the recognition by information managers in some member organizations of EADI (the European Association for Training and Development Institutes) that their services could reach a wider audience by working together. The key notions leading the organizations to work together were:

  • The common challenge of promoting and delivering web services
  • The added opportunity to work with similar organizations on related activities not just the main project
  • The ability to use complementary skills to develop a joint service.

In building the service it has been important to ensure there was joint ownership of the project, complementary inputs, a clear governance structure and equal influence by the partners. To ensure sustainability, partners needed to be convinced that their inputs were linked with those of other partners and that they were all involved in project applications for support.

More information from:
<eadi.org/eland
Chris Addison
Email:  

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AGORA: Widening access to agricultural information

From October 14th, 2003, students, researchers and academics in some of the world's poorest countries will gain free or low-cost access to a wealth of scientific literature under a new initiative announced by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and a range of public and private sector partners.


Involving bilateral agencies, UN agencies, private foundations and international scientific publishers, the AGORA (Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture) initiative provides access to key journals in food, nutrition, agriculture and related biological, environmental and social sciences.

Initially, the AGORA initiative will offer literature via the Internet to 69 eligible countries with per capita annual income of less than US$1000. The AGORA website will provide access to more than 400 key scientific journals in agriculture and related fields.

Founding publishers of AGORA are: Blackwell Publishing; CABI Publishing; Elsevier; Kluwer Academic Publishers; Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins; Nature Publishing Group; Oxford University Press; Springer Verlag; and John Wiley and Sons. Cornell University, the Rockefeller Foundation, the United Kingdom Department for International Development, and the United States Agency for International Development are also providing support.

More information from:
<www.aginternetwork.org

 

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Euforic: An information sharing network on international cooperation

by Huub Mudde

Euforic - Europe's Forum on International Cooperation - is an independent cooperative, and a publicly accessible and Internet-based platform for debate and information on Europe's development cooperation. Its three main roles are: (i) to share knowledge and information, (ii) to connect people and ideas, and (iii) to act as a platform for joint action. Euforic believes in the need for a comprehensive and interactive Internet service with a focus on Europe's international cooperation, and it strives to stimulate critical analysis with its collection of diverse and independent information. Euforic ultimately encourages coherence within development policymaking.

Euforic uses a co-branded approach to build on the expertise of its member organizations. Being a member of Euforic is a symbol of knowledge-sharing, partnership, and capacity building for development. It is about combining resources, disseminating databases, and sharing know-how to speed progress in development activities. Co-branding means that members build the identity of Euforic and promote the cooperative and, in turn, each other. Through cooperative efforts, like the ACP-EU Civil Society Information Network, Euforic is evolving into information platforms centred on themes or countries - each with its own individual look, format, and criteria.

More information from:
Huub Mudde
Europe's Forum on International Cooperation
Email:  
WWW: <www.euforic.org

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Publishing partnerships - building the ALPSP collection

by Pippa Smart

Although cooperation between libraries is long established, publishers usually viewed one another as competitors - particularly in times of diminishing subscriptions - and few cases of public collaboration and partnership exist. However, there are now increasing reasons for publishers to join forces, particularly in building new distribution channels for their products.

The way in which online journals are being sold is changing, and some publishers now offer large journal collections for a single payment ('bundled' online collections). This offers libraries good value for money, but uses substantial amounts of the library budget and often ties this up for several years.

Publishers realized that the purchase of individual (or small groups of) titles was being eroded. Some smaller publishers thus decided to engage in collaborative marketing and selling, and the development and launch of the ALPSP Learned Journals Collection.

Working with 247 journal titles from members of the Association of Learned, Professional and Society Publishers (ALPSP), including two publishers from Africa, Swets Blackwell (the facilitator) manages the negotiation and sale of the group of journals to individual libraries or consortia of libraries. The revenue is divided among the journal publishers. Swets also manages the access and gives users a seamless electronic interface to the collection.

Although there has always been an amount of collaboration between publishers with regard to setting standards and protocols, this initiative shows that there is further scope for publishers to work in partnership, even when their products are in competition.


More information from:
<www.alpsp.org
Pippa Smart
INASP
Email: <> 

 

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Greetings from INASP

Dear Reader,

As you receive this newsletter, close to the end of 2003, I would like to send you the best wishes of all INASP staff. We hope that 2004 will be prosperous and more peaceful - and that we can together make further progress in reaching our goal to enable worldwide access to information and knowledge.

I would like to also update you on some recent developments at INASP.

In October, we moved to a new office in Oxford. The move itself was exceedingly well planned and executed and passed with hardly a hitch. We look forward to welcoming you if you pass by Oxford. Our new address is featured on this newsletter.

At the same time, we are reviewing our status and governance with a view to the possibility of becoming legally independent while also reinforcing our relations with our long-time parent body the International Council for Science.

On the programmatic side, INASP Health is being reviewed by an external team tasked to re-visit priorities and plans and, based on their assessment of the results achieved and emerging demands, to suggest directions for the next ten years.

In September, we completed work on the Programme for the Revitalization of Libraries in Africa that had been funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The project sought to strengthen the contribution of public library services in Botswana, Kenya and South Africa, and library associations in 10 African countries.

Also ending in 2003 is the INASP involvement in the EC INCO programme that sought to enhance training in research information access and availability in six Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union.

In late September, Africa coordinators of the Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information (PERI) met in Accra to review and strengthen their activities. Among other things, they reinforced the critical importance of national level collaboration and coalition building to achieving wider access to research information that is also locally sustainable. With continuing and new commitments to PERI from the British, Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish governments, we are optimistic that such efforts will be fruitful.

We continue to welcome suggestions of how our work and partnerships can be improved to better meet your priorities and challenges in the field of information and knowledge management.

Carol Priestley
Director
INASP

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The next INASP Newsletter will be published in March 2004
If you would like to contribute to its contents, please write to the editor at the Oxford address. 
Contributions must be received by January 2004

International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications

<>  Website: <www.inasp.info
Visiting address:
58 St Aldates, Oxford OX1 1ST, UK
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