Electronic Information for Libraries


Electronic Information for Libraries

Electronic Information for Libraries, known as eIFL.net, is an independent foundation that negotiates and advocates for the wide availability of electronic resources by library users in transition and developing countries. Its main focus is on negotiating affordable subscriptions to electronic journals for libraries in the education and research sectors, while supporting emerging national library consortia in member countries. Additional eIFL.net programs and services keep members informed about global information issues and initiatives.

History

eIFL.net began in 1999 as an initiative of the Open Society Institute (OSI), a private grant-making foundation that is part of the Soros Foundation network. Recognising the key role that libraries play in the exchange of ideas, knowledge and information and the development of open societies, OSI invested significantly in library development and modernisation especially in the post-socialist countries of Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. With traditionally sophisticated educational systems, these countries represented emerging markets for international providers of scholarly and academic information. However, the barriers to access were formidable with little money to pay for expensive electronic resources, poor technological infrastructures, lack of capacity and relatively little awareness of electronic alternatives to print subscriptions. This deprived many libraries of the wealth of international academic journals and databases and the opportunities of digital technologies.

Committed to supporting education and research in transition countries, OSI through eIFL.net aimed to assist libraries and their users in achieving affordable access to electronic scholarly resources. eIFL.net negotiates licences with publishers for electronic resources on behalf of its members. As access to Internet-based digital material can be expanded at marginal cost to the provider, the idea is to leverage the purchasing power of individually "poor" customers and negotiate a multi-country consortial deal with information providers. eIFL.net acts as an agent for the national library consortia, who manage promotion and use of the electronic resources locally. Libraries and their users have access to thousands of full-text academic and scholarly journals from the arts to zoology through eIFL.net licences. In addition, eIFL.net offers training and a range of other services.

In 2002, eIFL.net became an independent foundation with diversified funding registered in the Netherlands with its operational seat in Rome, Italy. eIFL.net is a member of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the International Coalition of Library Consortia (ICOLC) [http://www.library.yale.edu/consortia/] .

Guiding principles

The main principles that inspire eIFL.net’s activities can be summarised as:

* access to information is essential in education and research and has a direct impact on the development of societies;
* the combined purchasing and negotiating power of libraries can lead to affordable and sustainable access to electronic information in countries in transition;
* the empowerment of citizens and the spread of democracy depend on equal access to information and knowledge worldwide: eIFL.net is committed to levelling the playing field.

Members

The global network embraces nearly 4,000 libraries in 50 transition and developing countries from Albania to Zimbabwe. Members are in Africa, central, eastern & south-east Europe, former Soviet Union, south-east Asia and the Middle East.

Current members include: Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Croatia, Egypt, Estonia, Ghana, Georgia, Lesotho, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Macedonia, Malawi, Mali, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nigeria, Palestine (Gaza and West Bank), Poland, Russia, Senegal, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Tajikistan, Uganda, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Zambia, Zimbabwe.

Program areas and activities

The two primary activities of eIFL.net are the creation and support of library consortia in transition and developing countries and assistance in the provision of access to electronic resources. Over the years other program areas have been added.

Content negotiation and licensing

Content negotiation and licensing is the cornerstone of eIFL.net's work. The number of publisher partners has grown steadily over the years and includes all subjects, journals and databases, reference sources and recently electronic books. The eIFL.net model licence [http://www.eifl.net/services/services_model.html] strives to contain the fairest conditions for access and use for the library and its patrons.

Consortium management and sustainability

This program provides training in the benefits of library cooperation and the consortial approach in seeking funding for electronic resources. eIFL.net provides guidelines and advice in consortium management with a strong emphasis on sustainability of the consortium.

eIFL-IP Advocacy for Access to Knowledge: copyright & related issues

The objective is to build capacity and expertise amongst the eIFL.net library community in copyright issues for libraries. The program provides training and raises awareness amongst an identified network of eIFL.net librarians. In addition, it represents eIFL.net at international policy fora such as the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and has taken an active part in a civil society campaign on Access to Knowledge (A2K).

Open Access publishing and Institutional Repositories

The mission of eIFL.net to foster access to electronic resources makes it a natural partner for the Open Access movement. The aim of the program is to provide training and knowledge sharing on Open Access across the eIFL.net community. At the same time, eIFL.net encourages greater visibility of locally produced content in eIFL.net member countries through the establishment of institutional repositories at leading research institutions within the library consortia.

eIFL-FOSS

eIFL-FOSS advocates free and open source software (FOSS) use in libraries in developing and transition countries. It aims to raise awareness and understanding of FOSS, facilitate eIFL.net member engagement with FOSS development communities, and undertake projects of special significance to eIFL.net members. Working closely with a network of eIFL-FOSS country coordinators, the program will build FOSS capacity in libraries; share experiences and expertise; and develop support material for evaluation of and migration to a FOSS integrated library system (ILS).

External links

* [http://www.eifl.net Electronic Information for Libraries website]


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