International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications

No. 15, November 2000 ISSN: 1028-0790  
In this issue:

Newsletter Editors: Ard Jongsma Neil Pakenham-Walsh (INASP-Health section)

Contributors to this issue: Mike Flood, Maritza Hee Houng, Jayshree Mamtora,
Marie-Dominique Mouton, Carol Priestley, Diana Rosenberg, Jeremy Taylor, Ellen
Tise, Donna Vincent Roa.

Editorial address: INASP P.O. Box 2564 London W5 1ZD UK

Tel: + 44 (0)20 8997 3274 Fax: + 44 (0)20 8810 9795 Email: [email protected]
WWW homepage:


Revitalising Public Libraries in Africa
Queue in front of the MacMilan Library in Nairobi. Photo: Book Aid International

In the three years ahead, INASP will assist the Carnegie Corporation of New York with the implementation of its programme 'Revitalising Public Libraries in Africa'.

This Newsletter will be an important medium for debate on the measures proposed and carried out, and for the dissemination of results as they become available from various parts of the programme. An increase in publication frequency to three times annually has been envisaged to accommodate this task.

This issue offers a series of articles introducing the programme to our readers. Page 2 carries some information on the background and INASP's involvement in it. On pages 3 and 4 you will find short descriptions of three projects already underway. These provide support to the Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) and the Kenya and Botswana National Library services respectively.

Click here for a detailed description of the review of ICT use in African information services for which preparatory research was carried out earlier this year and which will be published next year with financial support from the Carnegie programme.


INASP is a co-operative network of partners whose aim is to enhance world-wide 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;
•to promote in-country capacity building in information production, organisation, access and dissemination.

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

Chairman: Kai-Inge Hillerud Director: Carol Priestley
INASP 27 Park End Street Oxford OX1 1HU, UK Tel: + 44 (0)1865 249 909 Fax: + 44
(0)1865 251 060 Email:
[email protected]

and also:
P.O. Box 2564 London W5 1ZD, UK Tel: + 44 (0)20 8997 3274 Fax: + 44 (0)20
8810 9795

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Revitalising African Public Libraries

In October this year, INASP was invited to assist the Carnegie Corporation of New York with the implementation of its Public Library Revitalisation Programme in Africa.

Supporting a series of targeted initiatives within a flexible framework, the Corporation's first library programme in Africa in 40 years aims to strengthen public libraries and library systems in a few selected Commonwealth African countries.

"Public libraries are trapped between old forms of service delivery established before African nations gained independence and the critical need to modernise systems using technological advances," says Gloria Primm Brown, Senior Program Officer of Carnegie's International Development Program. "We need to learn about the priorities of African librarians, educate funders about specific issues and talk about opportunities for potential partnerships." With these issues in mind, Carnegie Corporation will focus its support on a few African library systems where it hopes to be able to make a difference.

INASP's role in the programme is divided into three main fields of activity. The first concerns technical assistance and sector building and includes acting as the Corporation's 'eyes' and 'ears' in the field, providing appraisal and evaluation of proposals, and monitoring the progress of the programme.

The second field of activity is research and development. Following up on the recent study Public Libraries in Africa, also commissioned by Carnegie, there are several areas where support to further research, pilot projects and training seminars appear to be worthwhile and desirable. The Carnegie programme will provide opportunities for a programme of support, initially covering three areas: the use of new technologies, evaluation of performance and impact of library services, and revitalisation of regional and national professional associations.

To these areas training needs may be added in the future and, in due course, it is very probable that programme partners will identify other issues. The programme allows for this.

Impact of the programme will be supported by active dissemination of project results. This Newsletter, whose frequency of publication, thanks to Carnegie Corporation support, will be increased to three times annually, will be an important medium. Additionally, dissemination to the professional press, publication of research reports, and presentations at relevant workshops and meetings are accounted for. Finally, professional fora within Africa (such as the Standing Conference of Eastern, Central and Southern African Librarians (SCECSAL) and the West African Library Association (WALA)), as well as outside Africa (such as the American Library Association (ALA) and the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA)) will be used to report progress and new findings.

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Library and Information Association of South Africa (LIASA) 2000 Conference

By Ellen Tise - LIASA President

LIASA's 3rd annual conference, the Millennium Conference, was held from 26 - 29 September in Durban. The theme of the 2000 conference was 'Reach the world @ your Library'. More than 480 delegates, representing librarians and information workers from the entire information sector and from all over South Africa attended the conference. We were privileged to have amongst us, five distinguished international speakers, sponsored by the National Department of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology. The five invited international speakers shared with us their rich experiences from different parts of the world.

Ms Elizabeth Watson from Barbados, President of the Commonwealth Library Association was the keynote speaker. The title of her paper was "Inward Stretch, Outward Reach: Today, Tomorrow, Always". She posed a number of challenges to LIASA and other library associations in developing countries and concluded her presentation by saying: "I truly believe that if we stretch inwards we will be more than up to the challenges that we face. By looking toward the bright side we will be able to successfully reach out with confidence, pride and conviction to those who require our services and also extend the group of people that we are able to influence."

Elizabeth Watson was followed by Professor Kingo Mchombu from the University of Namibia, who addressed the conference on the theme "HIV/AIDS and information; what role for libraries and information centres." The other guests included Professor E J Josey, Professor Emeritus, University of Pittsburg, USA, Ms Kalpana Dasgupta from New Dehli, India and Mrs Kay Raseroka from the University of Botswana.

Fifty local speakers presented papers ranging from topics on information technology and knowledge management to information for social inclusion, resource sharing, labour legislation in higher education libraries, and many others.

Ms Gloria Primm Brown, Senior Programme Officer of Carnegie Corporation who was visiting Durban as part of her study of the position of public libraries in South Africa, attended two days of the conference. The Carnegie Corporation of New York is supporting LIASA for a three year period to assist with the appointment of full-time staff and the setting up of a permanent office.

Most of the papers presented at the annual conference will be made available on the LIASA web site at:

More information from:
Ellen R Tise Dep. Univ. Librarian (Client Services) University of the Witwatersrand Private Bag X1, WITS 2050, SA Tel: + 27 (0) 11 717 1905 Fax: +27
(0) 11 403 1421 E-mail: [email protected]

Revitalising the Kenya National Library Service

As part of the same programme, the Kenya National Library Service (KNLS) was also invited to submit a proposal for a planning project to be supported by the Carnegie Corporation. In Kenya, the project was launched on the first of July
this year. At a planning meeting with all managers of KNLS branches, six core issues that the study needs to address were identified. These include: - the legal and policy issues for library and information services in Kenya; - new ways of financing library services; - broadening access to library facilities; - meeting the dynamic information needs from the public; - introducing/ expanding the use of ICTs in library management and KNLS operations, and; - reviewing the management and staff training systems of the KNLS.

The Kenyan project is divided into three different stages: a project development stage, a data collection and analysis stage, and a final stage which involves dissemination of the project findings and the development of a strategic plan for the revitalisation of the KNLS.

An extensive set of questionnaires, with the help of which data collection will be carried out, has been put together by the project committee and its consultants. These were field tested in seven regions in August. The results of these field tests were then fed back into a meeting which involved head office managers, branch librarians and consultants. The subsequent nation-wide survey was carried out in late September and early October, while simultaneously the public was invited to express its view through large public media.

Data analysis is now taking place to prepare for a large meeting to be held in Nairobi in mid-November. After this a group of KNLS managers and consultants will convene to develop the strategic plan for revitalisation of the KNLS.

Reform of the Botswana public library system

By Ntlamelang Baratedi

On the basis of research work submitted to INASP in 1999, the National Library Service of Botswana was also invited by Carnegie to apply for a six months planning grant (in the range of $50,000 to $75,000) for developing a strategic plan to reform the Botswana Library system. The National Library Service grabbed this opportunity and submitted a proposal accompanied by a work plan. Our budget totalled $67.000.

The six-month planning grant is to be used to develop ideas and strategies to reform the Botswana Library System. This grant will be utilised between June and November 2000.

We decided to start with mobilising the staff and getting them to understand the project very well so that they feel they part of it from the planning stage up to the implementation stage. The exercise was done through divisional meetings and the Annual General Meeting which was held in August 2000. The idea was welcomed with much enthusiasm by the National Library Service staff. Different committees have now been set to take up different assignments from the work plan. Again, this strategy was chosen to increase the sense of ownership our staff have of the project and thus increase its impact. We attach a high value to this project.

The following are the areas which form the work plan to be tackled over the six month planning period:

- Organising a seminar gathering all stakeholders in the Library Services to discuss their needs and requirements and to identify areas of co-operation between key players. The seminar will be held on the week beginning 6th November 2000. Key people will present papers which will form the basis for soliciting ideas on future co-operation strategies of the library system.

- Carrying out a local user needs survey to identify particular information needs for communities served. Two libraries have been identified, one being one of the oldest libraries in the country, the other being a new library which is about to open. Activities related to the survey were finished by the 31st October.

- Carrying out a pilot project on information repackaging. The precise definition of this part of the project will depend to a large extent on findings of the survey and will therefore not be formulated until the survey results have been processed.

- Organising reading week and/or library promotion campaigns. This area will be most adventured, with varied activities to publicise the library.

- Assessing the training needs of staff. The training needs have always been there but we have not been able to address many of them; further training needs will be identified as we come up with new strategies to tackle the job.

All these assignments will form the basis upon which to build future strategies to reform the Botswana Public Library System. Most of the assignments are of a piloting nature and hopefully will bear tangible results encouraging both Carnegie and the National Library Service to continue their reform of the Public Library System.

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Spreading the word The work of the Regional ISBN Agency for the South Pacific

By Jayshree Mamtora

The setting up of the Regional ISBN Agency for the South Pacific in 1986 was seen as an initiative that would benefit both librarians and booksellers. For booksellers, ISBN would be a way for marketing their publications and increasing their sales. Librarians would be more aware of new titles and able to follow up on legal deposit copies and communication between publishers, librarians and booksellers would improve generally.

Although the initial response from publishers was encouraging, the number of new registrations in recent years declined. It appeared that continued publicity was necessary in a region of 11 countries. There was a need for the ISBN Agency to have a new lease of life.

Following a reorganisation in 1998, a database for generating ISBNs was set up – the database stores publisher details and generates ISBNs.

Active approach

In April 1999, responsibility for the Agency was transferred to the Pacific Information Centre (PIC) of the USP Library. One of our first priorities was to prepare a new brochure detailing the virtues of not only ISBN but also CIP (Cataloguing-in-Publication) and ISSN (International Standard Serial Number). We actively seek out publishers now, as many new publishers in the region still do not understand the value of the ISBN system. In the short time since this strategy was implemented there has been a marked increase in the number of publishers being registered.

Information about ISBN and details about the Agency have been posted on the USP Library homepage and it will soon be possible to make an ISBN request by completing an electronic form. The resulting data are now sent to the International ISBN Agency twice a year for inclusion in their International ISBN Directory.

Reaching out

The University of the South Pacific and the Secretariat of the Pacific Community have been using ISBNs for their publications from the very start but a large number of smaller publishers and printers are still missing out.

Now, there is little point in getting an ISBN if nothing can be done with it apart from adorning a publication. The next phase will therefore be to develop an avenue for publishers to publicise their wares, most probably on the Web.

One of the plans for the future is to develop an ISBN Directory for the South Pacific. It would be a useful tool for publishers in the region and would complement the International ISBN Directory.

An effort will also be made to reach out to the island nations in the North Pacific, such as the Marshall Islands. In April 2000 the International ISBN Agency made a formal request for us to take responsibility for the wider region. Brochures have been distributed to the North but a lot more work still remains needs to be done.

Strengthening Pacific publishing

Establishing an ISBN Agency in the South Pacific is providing assistance for the book trade and libraries in stock control, ordering and accounting. It has meantan improvement in the exchange of information about books with all segments ofthe book trade, better control of the proliferation of published materials andimprovement in their handling, location and retrieval.

In this way, the Agency helps strengthening publishing in the Pacific and ismaking a major contribution towards better bibliographical control. Bypublicising publishers and publisher codes, the volume of trade will hopefullyincrease, thus improving the publishing industry. Setting up a web site will makedata searchable. Ultimately, the ISBN Agency is helping to strengthen Pacificcollections in the region and in this way, preserve knowledge and customs of theregion.

More information from:
Jayshree Mamtora Pacific Information Centre The University of the South Pacific
Library Email: [email protected]

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What's the problem ?

By Mike Flood Director, Powerful Information

We ran an exercise recently at an NGO workshop in Romania where we gave a group of young environmentalists a copy of the photograph (right) of a tree apparently growing out of a shop front and asked them the simple question: 'What's the problem?'. The answers were interesting: some said the tree will die because it has been encased in concrete; some argued that people in Galati (where the photo was taken) are losing the green spaces to developers; and some asserted that the planning controls in the city simply didn't work.

This workshop exercise, one of many training activities we now run routinely with groups in Central & Eastern Europe and elsewhere, is designed to explore public attitudes to a range of environmental and social issues. It enables us to better understand how such problems arise and how they might be addressed, and also to explore how to improve access to reliable and up-to-date information in the countries where we are working.

The Work of Powerful Information

When Powerful Information started out more than ten years ago we concentrated our efforts on two complex problems: first, how to understand what kind of information local groups in low-income countries needed to promote effective sustainable development initiatives; and second, how best to make this information available, free of charge. This led to other problems, and not just where to find the resources, but how to identify bona fide groups and how to search out appropriate and relevant information in a world where information and information providers are proliferating and often quality control leaves much to be desired.

In the years since, we have learned a great deal about tackling such problems, and have selected and sent out specialist environmental books to local resource centres and libraries in more than two dozen countries. We consider this work important and plan to do more. However, we find our focus shifting from products to processes: we are today putting more and more effort into working with local partners to identify, assess and collate local data (because of the paucity of base-line data in virtually every area). We are also spending more time advising on the effective management of information in local group offices, and undertaking more in-country training on all aspects of NGO development, from proposal writing to raising public awareness and stimulating community activity. We have run over 40 workshops in the last two years and are planning many more.

Practical Support

Powerful Information is working to support NGOs because of the important role that they can play in society (which is summarised in the box). NGOs are a part of the 'glue' that holds society together and one of the main drivers for change.

Over the years we have developed a range of workshop activities designed to provide practical support to both new and experienced NGOs in their daily struggle to raise public awareness and change social attitudes. Our approach is one of looking for solutions rather than dwelling on problems. In 1998 we produced a 'Know How Manual' which described 25 workshop activities. We are incorporating more recent ideas into a new NGO resource pack.

Here are a few examples of the activities that we find work particularly well:

Five Minutes with the President, which is designed to get individuals to describe concisely one issue that is importance to them or their group, and to identify and explain some practical measures that they would like to see taken by the government; Preparing for Important Meetings, gets group members thinking through all the things they need to do to prepare for that important meeting; Defining Aims and Objectives, helps groups define what they are about many groups don't have written aims and objectives; Database, explores what data might be held about the group on a central database this raises interesting definitional problems, such as what is an active member, and how to define what the group actually does; Parish Maps, gets people thinking, not about problems of economic hardship, health and pollution, but about things that they treasure, things that make their neighbourhood distinctive. We find this last activity, which is based on an original idea pioneered by Common Ground in the UK, works particularly well since it can promote communal activities designed to celebrate and protect local heritage and facilities (see box).

Other techniques we use to encourage greater professionalism in the NGO sector include: encouraging people to write things down not just because points are 'on the record' but because it forces people to think more carefully about what they are proposing; talking more on the phone - it's remarkable just how much misunderstanding arises because of poor communication; preparing contracts in a novel way, sometimes in the form of a final report so that local consultants have a clear idea of what we are looking for; providing constructive feedback on reports, proposals and letters, recognising that our partners are usually working in their second or third language; and advising on the more efficient use of software, especially for word-processing and spreadsheets, and on layout, which is so important in making documents easier to read.

We have been developing simple databases for groups to use to keep records everything from details of projects and tasks to timesheets. We have also been encouraging groups to visit each other and share their information and experience. Working together is not only more productive, it's also more fun. Unfortunately, it is still relatively uncommon.

We have come a long way in 10 years: we now understand much more about the nature of the problems that NGOs are facing in some of the less affluent countries. And with our partners, we feel we are beginning to find practical ways of improving communication and the quality of information available, and promoting techniques that can help raise public awareness of key social and environmental issues.

More information from the PI web-site at: or from:
Mike Flood, Director Email: mike.flood@

The Role of NGOs in Civil Society

Voluntary and autonomous organisations play a particularly important role in civil society by advancing public debate, building community spirit and raising awareness of contemporary social and environmental issues. They champion causes, often ones that are neither mainstream nor popular defend those that cannot defend themselves, and fight for freedom of opinion and expression; they also confront corruption. In the process NGOs empower individuals and encourage wider participation in communal activity and decision-making, and bring variety and diversity to public life, helping make the world a richer and more fulfilling place.

For the record, what happened in Galati was that private developers deliberately encroached onto public land to extend their shop fronts. They fully intended to chop down the trees but local NGO Prietenii Pamantului protested to the Council and managed to prevent them. What the group could not do was stop the store-keepers encasing the remaining trees in concrete, and the council has since refused to take the developer to court. (Photograph: Powerful Information)

Parish maps

Parish Maps offer a way of communicating creatively and socially how rich everyday places are, and what importance seemingly ordinary things have to local residents.

The approach involves:

a) identifying the things that are locally distinctive and special historic buildings and monuments, traditions, costumes, festivals, geological features, recreational areas where people meet or play, etc.;

b) learning how to define and measure these things;

c) assessing whether such local features or facilities are vulnerable to thoughtless planners, heartless developers, mindless vandals, alien cultures, or simply wear and tear and public apathy, and;

d) understanding the protection offered by the law and the possibilities for effective community action.

A well-informed NGO can make a real contribution in all of these areas, and in the process become accepted by the community.

In the UK over 2,000 Parish Maps have been produced over the last decade. They have been sewn, woven, knitted, printed, drawn and painted. Ideas have been brought to life in film, animation, collage, song and street theatre, and in short plays and poetry.

Some Parish Maps look very like the village maps of old; some are more like impressionistic or contemporary art, with visual representation of foods, traditions, fields, buildings, livestock, wildlife and people. The finished articles are often proudly displayed in village halls, community centres, local museums or churches.

Making Parish Maps is not an end in itself but the start of a process of valuing and appreciating the things that are precious and distinctive in the locality.

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Use of electronic information and communication technology (ICT) in Africa - A Review

By Carol Priestley, Director INASP, and Catherine Nyaki Adeya

Much has been discussed and written about the possible panacea of ICT in access to information of all kinds, to all sectors of society. Indeed, there are many studies and initiatives concerned with ensuring that African countries are prepared to meet the challenges of this information age and the key seems to revolve around access to ICTs and ICT policy development in general. It has also been observed that many researchers in Africa have to confront the acute lack of basic data and factual information relevant to policy-making, a situation that is not unique to the ICT policy environment. This predicament is not uniformly bleak, because there is some knowledge of attempted (and successful) baseline studies and applications in ICT related issues.

Innovation in applications of ICTs is going forward, because the agencies engaged in it do not wait for policy – nor, least of all, for policy research. It is most important, however, that policy researchers should become informed about the actual experiences in which the application of IT/ICTs is being attempted. In the end, the actual experiences will be a fundamental source of understanding about the applications of IT/ICTs in various fields and its social and economic outcomes.

The phenomenal rate at which these applications continue to grow has meant generally that attempts to collate empirical evidence have been inevitably out of step with the realities on the ground. Therefore, policy makers in Africa are confronted by a difficult conundrum. Their dilemma in developing strategies to bring the information revolution to Africa by creating truly national, integrated information infrastructures lies in simultaneously accelerating its use of high-tech and low-tech information services. It requires them to nurture the development of highly sophisticated, world-class channels capable of carrying the digitised content that now races through the world's financial systems, educational institutions, and business networks. At the same time, they must carefully address the information needs of the vast majority of their populations – mostly rural based and with low per capita incomes.

With all the interest surrounding ICT potential for Africa's development, where is the evidence? Are ICTs actually changing the 'shape' of Africa? Do the findings from past studies provide a backing to the policy advice being given to African governments? INASP has been involved in supporting preliminary work in a literature review to provide a synthesis of what has been done in this area, to give flavour and show the types of studies that are being conducted, and to justify further research. Funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York will allow Dr Catherine Nyaki Adeya, the researcher who carried out the initial research, to organise her findings into a publication. This will be a useful resource, especially for many in Africa who are not able to easily access a number of these studies.

In essence, it is hoped that the review will act as a window of opportunity for more nationally and locally focused empirical research and will make a contribution to understanding the research opportunities and challenges that still face most African countries.

Pilot projects

ICTs should lead to increased access and dissemination of information at decreased costs. However, there are few studies to prove this, particularly in the public library sector. Using the opportunity of the Carnegie Corporation support to revitalising services to the public in Africa, INASP will invite applications from programme countries and support one or two pilot projects to encourage, monitor and document the introduction and application of ICTs.

The aim of this exercise will be to map information on:

- the size and scale of the required infrastructure; - the level and nature of staff and user training; - the variety of services that can be offered (e.g. web pages, Internet access, locally created databases); - take-up of services by the public, and; - impact of services on information transfer to the public.

By monitoring the application of ICT in public library services, it will be possible to share empirical results with other services. It may also be possible to produce guidelines for the introduction of ICT activities into public library services in Africa.

Expressions of interest have been received from several partners in Africa.

INASP-Health Update Go to top

INASP-Health Update November 2000

In continued consultation with Health Information Forum participants and the many hundreds of people, North and South, who share our commitment to universal access to reliable, relevant information for healthcare professionals in resource-poor settings, INASP-Health plans to build on its existing activities, with the aim of delivering the following outputs during 2001-3:

1. a thriving global communications network for intersectoral exchange throughout the international health information community, with a special emphasis on input from those in developing and transitional countries,

2. a dynamic range of demand-led information resources to facilitate communications throughout the international health information community,

3. a neutral focal point for the development of needs-driven action plans to address priorities in health information access, in open consultation with national and local partners and end-users,

4. a capacity-building programme of practical workshops for health information workers and publishers in developing and transitional countries,

5. an accessible central resource of materials relating to information needs, access, application, and monitoring and evaluation,

6. an internationally recognised mechanism for advocacy and for channelling the voice of those on the ground to policy-makers and others in positions of influence

For further details, see the INASP-Health Operational Plan 2001-3 at . Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Health Information Forum (HIF)

Forthcoming meetings include:

- Computer-based training and distance learning: the Interactive Health Network (14 November 2000)
- Donation and distribution of books and journals: issues and challenges (16 January 2001) - Annual Open Forum (6 March 2001)
- Adapting source information to end users (15 May 2001)
- HIF Review and Way Forward (17 July 2001)

All meetings will take place at the BMA in London, which generously provides complimentary room facilities. For those unable to attend physically, email contributions to the meeting are welcome. Full proceedings of all HIF meetings are posted at: .

Co-operation with WHO

INASP-Health has over the past year acted as a facilitator to identify areas for strategic and practical cooperation between WHO and other 'health information' organisations. A report will be published on the INASP web site within the next few weeks, and is expected to serve as a basis for specific activities with immediate practical benefit as well as longer term strategies to address a range of priority areas.

HIF-Net at WHO

HIF-Net at WHO was launched as a joint initiative with the World Health Organization in July 2000, in response to increasing demands for a discussion list dedicated to issues of health information access in developing and transitional countries. The address (for postings to the whole list) is [email protected] . To subscribe to the list, please email [email protected] and in the message box give your name, affiliation, and a brief description of your professional interests. For an auto-information sheet, send an email to [email protected] , leave the subject line blank, and in the message box type: info hif-net

About INASP-Health

INASP-Health is a co-operative network created by health information providers,
for health information providers. Its goal is to facilitate co-operation across
the health information community towards universal access to reliable information
for healthcare workers in developing and transitional countries.

The network currently involves more than 600 participants, North and South,
representing non-governmental organisations, international agencies, library
services, publishers (print and electronic), and others. Visit our website at: for further information about our range of services and

We welcome all those who are willing to share their experience and expertise with
others to improve access to reliable information. Participation is free of charge
and without obligation. Please write to:

Dr Neil Pakenham-Walsh Programme Manager INASP-Health 27 Park End Street Oxford

Tel: + 44 (0)1865 249 909 Fax: + 44 (0)1865 251 060 Email:
[email protected]


We are grateful to the following organisations for their support:

- British Medical Association - Danida - Department for International Development
(UK) - CDSI (ICSU-Press) - World Health Organization


Computer based training: Improving the uptake and application of information

By Donna Vincent Roa, Ph.D. Director of Communication and Associate Project Director Quality Assurance Project

Many organisations world-wide have begun to rely on new technologies, such as computer-based training (CBT), to support healthcare and to maintain a humanitarian goal of harnessing information technology for a social purpose. CBT courses are being used to train healthcare professionals, build human capacity, guarantee transfer of critical skills, increase access to health information, and address training for health issues that are specific to a particular country or region.

"The new focus on CBT is a smart move," explains Dr. James Heiby, USAID Project Manager for the Quality Assurance Project (QAP). "Recent research suggests that classroom-based training, the approach typically funded by international health donors, organisations, and ministries, has had limited impact on the quality of care, despite large investments. It is unrealistic to expect donor agencies and developing countries' health systems to continue to finance the costs of traditional classroom training when a cheaper and more flexible training strategy is available. With computer-based training, the quality of instruction is consistent for all students who use the product and most studies show there are cost savings," he adds.

Under its contractual mandate to "take advantage of major training interventions and innovative training approaches that offers the potential for improved cost-effectiveness," QAT is developing, testing, and evaluating a number of CD-ROM products:

- Tuberculosis Case Management, based on WHO's DOTS-based training (generic version, plus adapted version for use in Bolivia),
- Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) (generic version, plus adapted version for use in Bolivia),
- The Quality Assurance Kit (the QA Kit),

User input and local adaptation of electronic content

In 1996, just two years after the WHO/UNICEF Integrated Management of Childhood Illness (IMCI) global initiative was launched, QAP developed a computer-based training course to further capitalise on the impact of the IMCI approach. The resulting CD-ROM, which has the capability to monitor progress and give feedback to the trainee, was adapted to the Ugandan context. At the time, the government of Uganda was interested in exploring alternatives to standard IMCI training.

Following the product development, QAP conducted a research study in Uganda to: (a) assess the effectiveness of computer-assisted training (CAT) versus standard IMCI training on knowledge, skills, and performance among in-service health providers, (b) compare the cost of the two types of training, and (c) assess the acceptability and feasibility of using computers for IMCI training.

The study included a cohort of in-service health providers (54 individuals in the standard course and 59 in the CAT course) randomly assigned and largely stratified by professional category. On tests of knowledge and performance (end of training, after two weeks, and after three months), the groups' performance scores were almost identical. Interestingly, males trained in the CAT had better sustained performance than females. The CAT group, however, did show some weakness in classification that reached statistical significance. For a number of other comparisons, CAT was enough above the standard course to reach similar levels of significance. But for all practical purposes, the outcomes were the same for the two groups.

Cost analysis revealed that, when compared to traditional classroom-based IMCI training, CAT was 30 percent cheaper per trainee (excluding development and hardware costs). The study also suggests that:

- the CAT course is less taxing to facilitators and less expensive, even if
computers need to be rented;
- participants seem to prefer the CAT course, even though none had ever used a
computer before;
- low computer availability hinders the use of CAT in districts;
- new CAT courses may lead to increased knowledge and retention of information.

Dr. Heiby believes that the results of the Uganda study are a powerful validation of CAT for healthcare workers in developing countries. "There are a lot of programmatic details to work on, but the underlying approach is going to be difficult to dismiss with this kind of evidence behind it," he adds.

The Quality Assurance Kit

The QA Kit, a CD-ROM produced by QAP specifically for developing-country health professionals, represents a breakthrough in "school-without-walls" thinking and has opened up a new vista for learning quality assurance. QAP Deputy Director of Communication and a QA Kit Co-Project Manager, Elisa Knebel, explains that CD-ROM technology is reliable, affordable, and can meet the instructional needs of varied clientele. "This state-of-the-art training product includes quality assurance methodologies and tools that can be learned with minimal or no instructor assistance and at a self-determined pace," she adds.

The QA Kit allows users to improve their organisational performance. Dr Sekhar Bonu, doctor-turned-civil-servant from India and former Johns Hopkins School of Public Health intern at QAP believes that health professionals at all levels can benefit: "The product communicates quality assurance principles at different behavioural change levels, and its unique design predisposes learning by enabling the trainee to practice quality assurance methods using relevant tools."

"The product also provides the student with the opportunity to address simulated problems," notes Dr. Edward Kelley, Quality Assurance Advisor at QAP and a QA Kit Co-Project Manager. "The straightforward approach and product design support absorption of key principles and will enhance retention for the novice user, yet the product is comprehensive enough to serve as a strong QA refresher tool for the expert."

In many of the settings where QAP works, the use of computers and computer competency are low. To address this, the QA Kit:

- provides a tutorial on using the computer;
- allows users to practice obtaining information from the Internet;
- provides users with a simple email interface that is designed to assist them in obtaining technical assistance from QAP staff and troubleshoot with the QA Kit technical support staff.

Strengths and Limitations

In the United States, CBT emerged as an alternative to traditional medical training and as a practical solution for organisations with limited resources. CBT seems to deliver a more satisfying learning environment and to ensure consistent information content and quality. According to the latest research, CBT is better suited than traditional training to visually intensive, detailed subjects; three-dimensional material; simulations; and diagnostic and therapeutic decisions. It is perhaps less successful in training of social principles or cognitive aspects of psychomotor skills.

The CBT learning environment is independent, self-paced, and interactive, with easy and direct access to information. This often reduces the length of the course of study and reduces the number of instructor interactions. Additionally, in a developing country setting, a computer disk can be copied or shared among a large number of users and serve as a reference material for up-to-date learning. In areas where there are no trainers or training, a CD-ROM product may be the only tool for learning available to a health professional. Ugandan participants in the QAP IMCI study preferred the computer course "because everything is easier and smoother with it. You can revise quickly, then go ahead to the next section." Another healthcare provider in the study group explained: "The computer is just like a teacher."

Critics of computer-assisted training often ask: "How can you be successful in countries where telephones, computers, and even electricity are in scarce supply?" It is true that a large number of healthcare providers –physicians and health workers – serving the disadvantaged and poorer areas of the developing world have little opportunity to explore the benefits of computer-based training. In Uganda (where the recent QAP research study took place), as in many developing countries, computers, computer literacy, and funding for training were not available at the district level. Power outages, the high cost of computers, and the need for ongoing computer maintenance and security pose equally serious constraints on computer-based training. However, these facts should not prevent organisations from addressing and meeting the needs of health providers with access to computers.

Establishing partnerships

Establishing partnerships with organisations that are setting up computer literacy centres, staging posts and health information waystations (see INASP Newsletter May 2000,) and providing software to complement their efforts, can expand an organisation's reach. QAP is launching a new initiative designed to bring the QA Kit to a wide range of users while, at the same time, testing and improving the program. This initiative involves long-term collaboration with organisations involved in health services delivery in developing countries.

QAP provides these organisations with free copies of the QA Kit, as well as introductory seminars on quality assurance and the application of the product. The project will also provide ongoing technical support.

In return, the QA Kit Partners will provide QAP with detailed, ongoing feedback on their use of the QA Kit and the results of "the QA Kit-driven" improvement and redesign projects. According to Dr. Kelley, "The QA Kit Partners program is innovative in that it attempts to go beyond limited research questions of comparing computer-based training to traditional training by understanding how international health organisations can use computers and multimedia to improve their efficiency and effectiveness."

CBT: A Solid Alternative

QAP believes that CBT products will enhance learning, strengthen competencies, and increase knowledge. Many other groups share these goals: improving information access and strengthening service delivery of healthcare workers. Partnerships with organisations (e.g. UNDP and USAID) working to increase the availability of computer hardware and software can further strengthen CBT's relevance in healthcare.

At the present time, CBT seems to be meeting expectations regarding cost-effectiveness, time savings, and learner accessibility to state-of-the art information. However, further research on the use and costs (in terms of both human resources and money) of CBT in developing country healthcare settings is still needed.

There is growing evidence that computer-based training will continue to be an effective tool in training healthcare providers in developing countries. According to Heiby, who is optimistic about the potential of computer-based training, "if further research shows that CBT continues to be more cost-effective than traditional training methods, it will become a preferred method of training.As the cost of both hardware and software continues to fall, and access to computers in the developing world increases, computer-based training use willcertainly continue to expand."

Portions of this article are based on findings published in the Quality Assurance Project's Issue Paper Computer-Based Training in Health Care: What Do We Know? by Elisa Knebel, QAP Deputy Director of Communication.

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Collaboration across the linguistic divide

Towards partnership between English-speaking Africa, French-speaking Africa and France Nairobi, 26-29 April 2000

By Marie-Dominique Mouton

In April 2000, librarians and publishers from various countries of anglophone Africa (Kenya, Uganda, Botswana, Ghana) and members of the French Foreign Office department responsible for library and publishing co-operation met in Nairobi for a three-day conference.

The African professionals explained the current situation of libraries and publishing in their countries, while the French participants presented some of the co-operation programmes developed with countries of francophone Africa. Altogether they had a large debate about the new policies of partnership between Africa at large and France.

One of the main aims of the event was to explore ways of intensifying African collaboration across the linguistic divide in the fields of library development and publishing. The conference was also a vehicle for making available outside francophone Africa, progress and results of the project called 'Publishing, Library and Network Partnership', actually implemented by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

To the left is a list of the presentations made during the workshop. The presentations have been published as working papers.

The workshop was co-ordinated by Régine Fontaine and François-G. Barbier Wiesser from the French Foreign Office with the help of Philippe Bocquier (IFRA, Institut Français de Recherche en Afrique, Nairobi) and Marie-Dominique Mouton (CNRS, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

More information from: Marie-Dominique Mouton Laboratoire d'ethnologie et de sociologie comparative Maison René-Ginouvès Université de Paris 10 92023 Nanterre Cedex France [email protected]

Presentations made during the workshop

- Kay Raseroka (Botswana), The situation of libraries in Botswana and development of information services in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa
- Prof. Anaba A. Alemna (Ghana), Library and information services in Ghana with specific reference to community libraries and management of oral records
- Phenny Birungi (Uganda), The future of public libraries
- Lily Nyariki (Kenya), Publishing in Kenya - William G. Kinyanjui (Kenya), Library networking in Anglophone Africa
- Jacinta Were (Kenya), Participation of African professionals in regional and international professional forums: The case for Anglophone and Francophone countries
- Sarah Kagoda-Batuwa (Tanzania), The East African co-operation (EAC) library: prospects for co-operation in the region
- Isaac Kigongo-Bukenya (Uganda), Current state of library, information and related services in Uganda and possible areas of co-operation
- Marie-Dominique Mouton (France), African studies in France
- Régine Fontaine (France), French co-operation on publishing for young readers
- Michèle Nardi (France), Stratégie et pratiques de la coopération française en matière d'appui aux politiques du livre et de l'écrit en Afrique francophone
- François-G. Barbier-Wiesser (France), French co-operation on information resources
- Gilles Béville (France), Présentation du CITE, Centre d'information technique et économique (Antananarivo, Madagascar)

Scientific Journal Publishing in the Developing world ? translated into French.

The publication Scientific Journal Publishing in the Developing world ?, written by Anna Maria Cetto in 1998 and published in the COSTED Occasional Paper Series (No. 3), has been translated into French by Mr Bakelli Yahia of the CERIST Research Centre of Algiers ( ).

The manuscript is ready and negotiations are undertaken with ADBS (Association des Professionnels de l'Information et de la Documentation) of Paris about publication of the book.

It will be published under the title: L'édition de revues scientifiques dans les pays du tiers monde ?

In the next issue of the Newsletter we hope to be able to give more details.

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Making African journals more accessible AJOL 2000

August 30th saw INASP launching a new phase of African Journals Online (AJOL 2000). This service continues and expands the AJOL pilot project which began in 1998. It offers free online access to the contents of scholarly journals published in Africa. Its objectives are to: - provide access to research undertaken and published in Africa; - increase knowledge about African scholarship; - strengthen African journals publishing.

The INASP Newsletter has followed the progress of the pilot project (May 1998 and May 2000 issues). The evaluation recommended that AJOL be expanded to include more journal titles and abstracts of journal articles.

Features of the new service include: - more journal titles: at the moment 43 titles are on site. The aim is to provide access to 50 journals (for the time being because of limited funding, only those in English and excluding South Africa); - more subjects: agricultural sciences, health, social sciences in addition to science and technology; - abstracts of articles as well as tables of contents (TOCs); - back files maintained for up to 5 years; - key word search of journal contents; - links to full text (if available on the Web); - document delivery of articles by fax or post.

Inclusion in the service is free to journals. INASP pays for a subscription and proceeds from document delivery are also remitted to the respective journals. Funds from NORAD have enabled AJOL 2000 to get off the ground. Additional funding is being sought.

In order to publicise the service, 2,500 fliers were sent to Africana scholars, libraries, journals and NGOs. Notices were also placed on listservs and in newsletters. An offer of free photocopies for the first six months is being made to introduce the document delivery service. The result has been overwhelming. Up to the end of September, over 700 users (from all corners of the world) have registered to use the service. The access count for the last week of September was 4,239.

Amongst the many responses received have been requests to include South African journals, those from Francophone Africa and titles in the humanities, particularly in arts and literature. These would strengthen the service and INASP is actively raising funds to this end. We are also considering electronic document delivery.

The success of AJOL will ultimately be measured not by the numbers who register but by the numbers of those who continue to use the service. And, what is more, start reading African journals regularly, take out subscriptions and buy photocopies. INASP will be monitoring future usage carefully.

To use the service, go to:

Send suggestions for new titles or any comments about AJOL, to: [email protected]

Journal Titles (at October 2000)


Science & Technology


Social Sciences

"I have looked at the AJOL website and find it interesting and useful"
Elizabeth le Roux, Africa Institute of South Africa

"Thanks very much for the AJOL initiative - it is great"
Sven Ouzman, National Museum of South Africa

"A very very very wonderful site"
Sanyakhu-Sheps Amare, NECC, USA

"This is a great project"
Karen Fung, Stanford University, USA

"Excellent initiative"
Marcel Fafchamps, University of Oxford, UK

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Africa's Regional Library Associations

INASP's programme to strengthen the role of regional library associations in Africa is not limited to supporting the biennial conferences of SCAULWA (Standing Conference of African University Libraries Western Area) and SCANUL-ECS (Standing Conference of African University Libraries in East, Central and Southern Africa) (as reported in the May 2000 INASP Newsletter). Assistance is also being offered in the production of news-letters and in the implementation of research studies.

Both SCAULWA and SCANUL-ECS have each published and distributed a newsletter in 2000. That of SCAULWA (in English and French) mainly reported on the SCAULWA resuscitation conference and provides abstracts of the papers presented. That of SCANUL-ECS looks both back to the 1998 conference in Kenya and forward to the 2000 conference in Windhoek. There are also articles on the African Virtual Library Initiative and the USIU Library automation project.

SCAULWA's research projects for 2000/2001 are the compilation of two directories: the first a directory of the status of ICT in University Libraries in the West Africa Sub-Region; the second a directory of University Libraries in the West Africa Sub-Region, including details of professional librarians.

Following on the research into library incomes presented at the Windhoek Conference in April, SCANUL-ECS are preparing to publish a volume containing a number of case studies entitled 'Income Generation: expe-riences from eight university libraries in Southern, Central and Eastern Africa'. (Details will be available on the INASP Web site and in future Newsletters) In addition, Professor John Willemse (formerly of UNISA) has been commissioned to develop, formulate and finalise common guidelines, norms and standards for a number of income issues, suitable for practical application in university li-braries in the SCANUL-ECS region.

Internet training for librarians

Connecting a university library to the Internet does not necessarily mean that it will be used to disseminate information. Librarians need to know how to access and filter what is on the Web. That is the aim of INASP's workshop programme on 'Using the Internet', which is currently travelling between university libraries in Africa.

A comment from a participant at the most recent workshop at University of Nairobi in September shows that it is meeting this objective: "It was a full five-day intensive seminar with homework, reading, group assignments, hands-on exercises, etc. I think it was very valuable for me to have such an extensive period of time to dedicate entirely to learning how to access and evaluate the information available for research, study and teaching on the Internet".

The workshop has already been hosted by university libraries in Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia, Ghana and Kenya. It travels to Makerere University, Uganda in December, followed by Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, in February and Zimbabwe in April 2001.

INASP is now receiving requests both to extend the workshop series, assist in facilitating more workshops on a national basis and offer similar workshops at a more advanced level.

In another development, INASP is joining with the Programme for Information Access and Connectivity (PIAC) in organising an ICT Workshop for African Universities in Uganda in December. This is at the request of the ADEA Working Group for Higher Education and will bring together both end-users and librarians to evaluate Internet resources within a few disciplines of key concern to African universities.

For more information on any of the projects described on these pages contact Diana Rosenberg. Email: [email protected]

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Agricultural information developments in Latin America and the Caribbean

By Maritza Hee Houng

The Latin American and Caribbean region is moving fast ahead with updating its information and knowledge management processes. Institutions in the agricultural, health, and socio-economic sectors are collaborating in the development of Internet-based information resources. The common element here is the application of ICTs and the shared vision is one of increased information for all users. Here is some news of recent developments.

A new agricultural information and documentation system for the Americas

The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) is spearheading dynamic developments in the area of agricultural information. IICA has a long established tradition for excellence in agricultural information. It coordinated, for example, the AGRINTER Network for several years. AGRINTER was the Latin American component of the AGRIS system (International Information System for Agriculture) developed and managed by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Changing information technologies have forced a rethinking on how networks function, but the linkages made in the AGRINTER network, proved of tremendous assistance when IICA started the redesign of their system.

IICA is currently building national, regional and international information systems to support agricultural development faced by the challenges of globalisation, free trade and economic integration. IICA's web-site, at provides access to major libraries, networks, and statistical and economic information systems. With support from the Kellogg Foundation, IICA is building a hemispheric component of the network. The Agricultural Information and Documentation System for the Americas (SIDALC), as it has been named, will consolidate national agricultural information networks, databases, electronic libraries, and generate new information products. Its URL is:

SIDALC's development is being facilitated by a consortium of agricultural libraries which will guide the co-operative efforts, develop priorities and provide for a formal communication mechanism. The US National Agricultural Library, the Canadian Agriculture Library and major Latin American libraries make up the consortium.

This initiative is complemented by an ongoing project which establishes a Hemispheric Network of Agricultural Distance Learning Centres. For the Caribbean, the Hub is located in Barbados, while two satellite centres in the Dominican Republic and Jamaica have also been commissioned. Satellite centres in Trinidad and Tobago, Bahamas and Grenada are scheduled to be opened later this year. These centres and others to be opened in 2001 will use CD-ROM and Internet-based courses prepared in the Caribbean.

Virtual health library launched in Trinidad & Tobago

The Medical Sciences Library of the University of the West Indies at Mount Hope, Trinidad hosted a stakeholders' meeting on September 12, 2000 to discuss the establishment of a Virtual Health Library (VHL), in Trinidad and Tobago.

The VHL is the latest development in the management of health-related literature in the Caribbean and Latin America. It enhances the existing health information management infrastructure. Librarians in the region collect, organise, and index health-related literature of the region and provide access to the resulting databases such as MEDCARIB and LILACS through different media including CD-ROM and the Internet.

Already operational in some Latin American countries, the VHL is to be a broad collection of health-based scientific and technical knowledge, organised and stored in electronic format in the countries of the region and compatible with international databases and universally accessible sources on the Internet. BIREME, (the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information) is the network co-ordinating centre. Mr. Abel Packer, Director of BIREME, a PAHO Centre based in Brazil, shared this vision with stakeholders in Trinidad and Tobago and initiated the launch of the prototype for the Trinidad and Tobago component of the VHL.

A major feature offered by the VHL is the 'Portal', a scientific periodicals directory in the health sciences field that offers information on the availability of electronic-based full text journals. In the widely dispersed islands of the English-speaking Caribbean, for medical personnel without direct access to the medical libraries in the major centres this will be a breakthrough in information access.

To access the VHL go to:

Caribbean agricultural information service (CAIS) holds sensitization workshop

CARDI (the Caribbean Agricultural; Research and Development Institute) is the Caribbean's premier agricultural research and development institution. It has played a major role in managing and delivering agricultural information in the region for several decades. The increasing complexity of information dissemination has forced CARDI to look for new ways of carrying out its mandate.

CARDI's information activities are now structured within the Caribbean Agricultural Information Service (CAIS). CAIS runs a number of pilot projects in the region aimed at developing national networks. It offers specific information products and services. CAIS also analyses existing agricultural information infrastructures in CARDI member states, and hosts annual training workshops.

CARDI has operated as the Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation's (CTA) Regional Branch Office for the Caribbean since the mid 1980s. In October, CTA and CARDI hosted a training Workshop on Strategic Issues in Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) for Senior Policy/Decision Makers in the Development of Caribbean Agricultural Sector Institutions in Barbados. The workshop programme included presentations from international and regional ICT specialists, demonstrations, practical sessions and moderated discussions. It is expected that one outcome of this meeting will be improved strategies and application of ICTs by Caribbean agricultural sector participants attending the workshop.

For further information contact:
Mrs. C. De Freitas CARDI Information Resources Manager Email:
[email protected]

UNECLAC initiates Caribbean digital library

In May 2000, the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UNECLAC) convened a meeting to discuss the establishment of a Caribbean Digital Library. Participants came from regional institutions, national and regional information centres, and non-governmental and academic institutions. With their endorsement, the digital library was formally established. UNECLAC has played a lead role in the development of information systems and services in the Caribbean. It spearheaded the development of the Caribbean Network of Social and Economic Planning (CARISPLAN), a regional bibliographic database which incorporates information products and services such as indexes and abstracts, online services and document delivery.

The Caribbean Digital Library is a successor to CARISPLAN and uses Web technology as the new vehicle of information exchange. UNECLAC will host and lead the Caribbean Digital Library while a Steering Committee, selected from participants to the inaugural meeting, will continue the development process. The content of the library will initially include the full text of documents available for unrestricted circulation produced by governments, regional organisations and the private sector in a wide range of subject fields.

The Caribbean Digital Library can be accessed at:

For further information contact:

Ms. Sandra John Chief, Documentation UNECLAC Email: [email protected]

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Tenth International Conference of Science Editors

By Neil Pakenham-Walsh, INASP

In August this year, INASP participated in the Tenth International Conference of Science Editors, IFSE-Rio, held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This brought together scientific editors and information specialists from around the world to discuss current scientific publishing, from the perspective of both developed and developing countries. INASP presented observations on the current state of publishing in Africa and the potential contribution of the new INASP African Journals Online programme (AJOL 2000), which was launched during the conference. The full text of the presentation is on the INASP web site. The following includes extracts from the conference.

Ellis Rubinstein, Editor of Science, defended the role of journals, whether print and/or electronic. They serve a role to ensure quality, to save time for the reader, and to foster a community. Open public access carries disadvantages of lack of quality control, user overload with suspect data, and risk of chaos through lack of organisation of material. Scientists want others to point them to what is important, they do not want to spend hours looking for it.

Carol Tenopir, School of Information Sciences, Tennessee, agreed the most important commodity for readers is time. They want editorial improvement of language and presentations, together with peer review control of content.

Frank Gannon, Executive Director, European Molecular Biology Organization, pointed out that some models of open access initiatives are regarded as potential monopolies, and presented an alternative model, E-BioSci, a distributed network of providers, which will be launched at the end of 2000.

Peter Boyce pointed out that 'if users can't get it on their desktop they won't bother'. Easy access is critical, and can be enhanced by graphic mapping search tools, built on neural networks. This is the method currently used in the Astrophysics Data System.

'The pace of change is enormous. The magnitude of the change is, likewise, beyond what we have faced since the time of Gutenberg. Yet, the underlying needs are the same – to organise, to locate, to access, to use, and to preserve information. Scholars will sorely need a well thought out approach to organizing information if we are to avoid descending into chaos.'

Stevan Harnad of the University of Southampton called for the removal of the 'access-blocking fire-walls' of electronic subscriptions, site licenses, and pay-per-view, into a new era of free open access. Journal publication will downsize, he says, to Quality-Control and Certification (QC/C through peer review and editing), which will be paid for up-front at the author-institution end.

Authors want wide dissemination and users want unrestricted access, said Fiona Godlee, Editorial Director for Medicine, BioMed Central. But they also want peer review. BioMed Central offers an umbrella site for biomedical journals based on a model of 'open access and open peer review'. The site will provide tools for authors and users, authors retain copyright, and there will be a bias towards publication. Moreover, reviewers are aware of the names of authors of all papers they review, and vice versa, and reviews will be signed and posted for all to see.

Much research in developing countries is unpublished and lost to science, says Barbara Kirsop, and electronic publishing can help overcome this problem. The Electronic Publishing Trust works closely with the non-profit Brazil/Canada/UK Bioline International. It currently hosts the full text of 15 peer-reviewed bioscience journals from developing countries, while promoting the transfer of electronic publishing skills and technology to publishers.

James Testa described the Institute for Scientific Information and its mission 'to provide comprehensive coverage of the world's most important and influential journals for its subscribers' current awareness and retrospective information needs.' The ISI applies special criteria to developing-country journals, taking into account their particular audience and scope.

Benitez-Bribiesta called for an end to abuse of the Impact Factor. The IF was originally developed as a tool for the management of library collections, not journal quality. 'Journals with a high impact factor will continue to receive the highest quality contributions, thus condemning low-impact journals, mainly those of developing countries, to obscurity.'

Abel Packer, Director of the Latin American and Caribbean Centre for Health Information (BIREME) described the latest developments in SciELO (Scientific Library Online), now operating in Brazil ( ), Chile (, Costa Rica ( ), and Cuba ( ). The ScieELO sites (collections of scientific journals published on the Internet) not only increase the visibility of journals, but also form a co-operative network of their own, encouraging scientific communication within and between countries.

'Virtually every new technology tends to exacerbate the inequalities that separate the rich from the poor', warned Subbiah Arunachalam of the Swaminathan Research Foundation. 'The newer and more potent the technology, the greater is its ability to increase the inequalities. [...] Merely making journals and preprints available on the web is not enough [...] What is needed is a much broader package, including education, provision of the necessary technology [...] and mobilising governments, academies, professional societies and academic institutions to take advantage of the new developments [...] Indeed it is the scientists and scholars of the developing world who could benefit most from open archives initiatives [...] Ironically, they are the last to adopt and benefit from them.'

More information and papers can be found on BIREME's web-site at:
Choose <Proceedings>

"Much research in developing countries is unpublished and lost to science."

"Indeed it is the scientists and scholars of the developing world who could benefit most from open archives initiatives [...] Ironically, they are the last to adopt and benefit from them."

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Beating the book decline
Caribbean publishers plan to kick-start the industry

By Jeremy Taylor

Distressed by the decline of book publishing in the Caribbean, a group of regional publishers has formally launched a new organisation to try and turn the business around.

The Caribbean Publishers' Network (CAPNET) was launched in Port of Spain, Trinidad, on June 27, at a meeting of 12 book publishers, editors and promoters from Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, Belize, Puerto Rico, French St Martin and Mexico. The organisation will develop a strategy for training potential publishers in the logistics of the business, tapping international funding for the development of book production, and building a vibrant indigenous publishing industry in the Caribbean.

"It's a big challenge," admitted Ian Randle, of Ian Randle Publishers in Jamaica, who has published over 150 titles in the last ten years, and was elected President of the new organisation. "But we already have promises of support from several international organisations once CAPNET is set up, so we can no longer avoid the issue — a lively and active regional organisation is essential." Randle points out that few, if any, of the Caribbean's leading creative writers, artists and intellectuals have been published in the Caribbean. "Publishing in the region remains in a state of chronic underdevelopment. Not only is there no sustained growth, but publishing is actually in decline, with a number of publishing houses going out of business. No new publishing entities are emerging to replace them, and book publishing remains the poor relation of all the other segments of the media and culture industry."

Among the most crippling problems, Randle says, are the inability to source capital and to compete with huge metropolitan publishing conglomerates to market, distribute and promote Caribbean books.

CAPNET plans to change all that. By mobilising both international and regional resources, it aims to bring professional training programmes to the industry, and represent regional publishers at the crucial international book fairs to which individual publishers cannot usually afford to go. It will encourage intra-regional trade in books and rights, create a regional publishing web-site where Caribbean books can be ordered online, and develop a Caribbean Book Fair. It has already been invited to exhibit Caribbean books at this year's Guadalajara Book Fair, the world's largest Spanish-speaking book fair. "CAPNET is a strictly independent, professional, non-profit organisation," says Randle, "and we are very serious about building a truly indigenous publishing industry in the Caribbean. African publishers have had a similar organisation since 1992 — it now represents 27 African countries and has been very successful in putting African books on the map — and we are going to do the same for the Caribbean."

In addition to Ian Randle, the initial CAPNET council also includes Montserrat Duran (Belize), Dr Suzie Giskus (Curaçao), Ilona Armand (Haiti), Alfredo Torres Otero (Puerto Rico), and Ken Jaikaransingh and Jeremy Taylor (Trinidad and Tobago).

For more information contact: Jeremy Taylor Email: [email protected]

Pacific Book Fair

Coinciding with publication of this Newsletter (early November) the Festival of Pacific Arts takes place in New Caledonia. The festival takes place every four years in a different Pacific Islands country. In the run up to this year's festival, the Institute of Pacific Studies have successfully lobbied with the festival organisers for inclusion of a book fair in the programme of the event.

It is the first time that a regional book fair takes place and the organisers hope it will result in closer ties among the publishers of the participating countries. Ideally, the event would lead to the establishment of a publishers' network along the lines of African APNET or the recently established CAPNET (see elsewhere in this issue). In the next issue of the Newsletter we hope to carry a report on the event


Notice Board

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

Short contributions can be sent to the editor at INASP.

Journal for African Culture and Society

For a number of West African Institutions, INASP has available complimentary
copies of the publication Matatu.

Matatu, originally a journal, is now more considered a series of books on African literatures and societies dedicated to interdisciplinary dialogue between literary and cultural studies, historiography, the social sciences and cultural anthropology.

Animated by a lively interest in African culture and literature (including the Afro-Caribbean), Matatu moves beyond worn-out clichés of 'cultural authenticity' and 'national liberation' and towards critical exploration of African modernities. The East African public transport vehicle from which Matatu takes its name is both a component and a symbol of these modernities: based on 'Western' (these days usually Japanese) technology, it is a vigorously African institution; it is usually regarded with some anxiety by those travelling in it, but is often enough the only means of transport available; it creates temporary communicative communities and provides a transient site for the exchange of news, storytelling, and political debate.

Matatu is firmly committed to supporting democratic change in Africa, to providing a forum for interchanges between African and European critical debates, to overcoming notions of absolute cultural, ethnic, or religious alterity, and to promoting transnational discussion on the future of African societies in a wider world.

More information on Matatu can be found on the web-site of publishers Rodopi at:


The next INASP Newsletter will be published in February 2001. If you would like to contribute to its contents, please write to the editorial address above. Contributions must be received by 15 January 2001.
The International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications

58 St Aldates, Oxford OX1 1ST, UK. Tel: + 44 (0)1865 249 909 Fax: + 44
(0)1865 251 060 E-mail: [email protected]

and also:
P.O. Box 2564, London W5 1ZD, UK. Tel: + 44 (0)20 8997 3274 Fax: + 44 (0)20
8810 9795

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