International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications



Library Support Programmes

INASP work closely with the library communities in developing and transitional countries to develop skills, promote networking and discussion, and gain access to information.

Towards the Digital Library

In 2004 INASP commissioned a survey of the current status of digital libraries in sub-Saharan Anglophone Africa. The results have now been published, both in full text and summary formats; it is also possible to order print copies.

The report examines the progress that has been made by university libraries in Africa in introducing electronic systems and services and suggests where developments and investments might now be made to further advance the implementation of digital libraries. Although the survey data is confined to sub-Saharan Anglophone Africa (not South Africa), it is hoped that many of the results are also relevant to other African countries and the developing world in general. The term digital library is used to refer to a library where some or all of the holdings are available in electronic form, and the services of the library are also made available electronically – frequently over the Internet.

One conclusion is that university libraries in Africa are at very different stages of digital development, with very different needs. Programmes that assume that all libraries within a region or country have the same needs and aspirations are unlikely to be successful. It is important to recognize that a library must also have the basic building blocks of a digital library in place before it can move forward into providing electronic services. Training of library staff remains key, but there is a call for training methods to be diversified and a new emphasis is placed on ensuring that the curricula and teaching in library schools has kept pace with the new digital environment. User education remains a challenge. Finally, librarians say that they lack advice as to where to go next. Mechanisms for sharing in-country experiences or driving forward digital developments are not widely available.

For further information contact Diana Rosenberg    

Travelling workshops for university librarians 

The Internet is now recognised as an important source of information, yet many librarians feel inadequately trained in its use. In response to this need, INASP have developed a number of travelling workshops as part of the PERI programme. 

Strengthening Professional Associations

The revitalisation and renewal of university libraries is essential if the quality of higher education in Africa is to improve. Regional professional library associations play a crucial role. Starting in 1999, with funding from Danida, this project aims to strengthen the capacities of two regional library associations in Sub-Saharan Africa, SCANUL-ECS and SCAULWA. 

It supports activities that lead to the collection of research data, publication of reports and newsletters, implementation of action plans, policy determination and exchange of experiences and information. The support takes the form of professional expert guidance and financial assistance. At the end of the period, it is hoped that the associations will have developed the confidence, experience and skills to continue such work without outside support. 

Further information - or contact: Diana Rosenberg

Access to information

To assist the librarian communities within the developing and transitional countries to obtain access to scholarly and research information, the Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information (PERI) provides support to collaborative purchasing and obtaining preferential rates. See the PERI pages on this site for further information.

Previous activities

INASP has been working with university and public libraries since 1994. A number of projects have now been completed, and information about them can be found on this site.

For further information about any aspect of library support, contact Diana Rosenberg

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