Promotion of e-resources in developing countries: a case study

Hopkinson, Alan (2009) Promotion of e-resources in developing countries: a case study. In: Online-Information 2009, 4 December 2009, Olympia, London. . [Conference or Workshop Item]

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The EU TEMPUS programme is currently funding projects to improve libraries in Higher Education within the theme of improving university processes and management in the countries on the fringes of the European Union area. After working on a project led by Humboldt University in Berlin to help certain university libraries in Serbia modernise, particularly necessary after they had been cut off from the rest of the world through sanctions, Middlesex University Learning Resources was awarded funding to promote e-resources in Yerevan State University (YSU) in Armenia. This involved working informally with eIFL (electronic Information for Libraries) to get good deals for licenses for e-resources and then encouraging librarians to use them.

In comparison with Serbia, Armenia was a world apart. There had been enough librarians in the Serbian target libraries who knew English to be able to work with e-resources and to have followed progress in the formative years of e-resources to know what western libraries were doing. In YSU, there were few librarians who knew English and there was a feeling that dealing with e-resources was the task of computer specialists (who tended to be younger and to know English better), while librarians should concentrate on managing printed books and serials. A programme of visits was part of the project and on one occasion a senior librarian expressed amazement at the enthusiasm of library staff in the UK and at Middlesex University in particular, since back at home librarians were supposed to be quiet and reserved.

One of the main conclusions to be drawn from this project was that the main inhibitor of progress lay in the education of librarians which had never been modernised since the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1990. Middlesex and RGU had previously been involved in a similar project in the Near East where the impetus for libraries to be more proactive was in many cases coming from the academics who before the project had not realised that librarians were supposed to be able to help with e-resources. As a result of the experience in Armenia, another project was proposed for Armenia and accepted by the EU to re-train, with the help of the Department of Information Management at RGU, library school lecturers not only in Armenia, but also Uzbekistan and Georgia. A project team was established and the project is now under way.

Interestingly in the initial meetings we have observed a tendency for the requirements for librarianship professional training in the target countries to be divided into the classical and the technical, which might if we were not careful result in the confirmation of the views of the CIS partners to divide support for library materials into two, traditional and electronic, which we feel must surely be inappropriate; this paper will outline the thinking behind the project and describe its progress particularly illustrating the ways in which progress is being made to follow a model closer to what is found in western Europe.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
Research Areas: A. > Library and Student Support
Item ID: 3833
Depositing User: Repository team
Date Deposited: 03 Feb 2010 11:24
Last Modified: 04 Apr 2019 07:00

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