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Communication and Information Sector's news service

African digital library survey

21-07-2005 (Addis Ababa)
An online survey to elucidate the technical and other related problems faced by African institutions and information professionals in creating digital libraries was recently launched; The survey is intended to inform a feasibility study on the establishment of a Greenstone Support Organization for Africa, which can help to resolve these problems.
Digital libraries can assist in the creation of local content, promote preservation and access, as well as supporting capacity building in civil society. The open source Greenstone Digital Library software suite for creating digital Libraries can play an important role in advancing human development in Africa andcontributing to the achievement of national and international dissemination of information in civil society and institutions in the fields of education, science and culture.

The University of Waikato has commissioned a feasibility study, sponsored by UNESCO, on the establishment of a Greenstone support organization for Africa. The study will take into account the needs of the Amharic, Arabic, English, French and Portuguese language regions, identify key challenges to the establishment and successful functioning of a digital library support organisation and provide concrete recommendations for addressing these challenges.

As part of this study, African respondents are invited to participate in the survey indicated below, to elucidate the technical and other related problems faced by African institutions and information professionals in creating digital libraries. Respondents require no previous experience of the Greenstone Digital Library software suite to complete the survey, which aims to establish broader needs for digital library support.

The first part aims to characterise the digital library community on the African continent. Questions relate to the host institution and staff roles. The second part investigates the nature of digital libraries in Africa - planned or created -in support of the needs analysis in the third section. Greenstone digital library software use and support is measured in the fourth section. The final section seeks comments and ideas on the organisation structure most appropriate to the formalization of such a support organisation. Questions relate to models perceived to be more successful and the governance mechanisms preferred.

The survey is therefore an opportunity for information professionals and digital library specialists in Africa to contribute meaningfully to the development of an appropriate organisation, designed specifically to meet their needs.

UNESCO has significant experience in facilitating the development of some key software tools for processing information. These software tools are distributed free-of-charge and the objective is to empower the users by giving them access to technology for development and knowledge sharing, that most of them otherwise could not afford. The development model is based upon international cooperation and the software tools are continuously enriched, modified and updated with the co-operation of a community of experts from different countries. The most popular UNESCO software tools are CDS/ISIS, IDAMS and Greenstone.
Related themes/countries

      · 2005
      · News archive: 2005
      · Libraries: News Archives 2005
      · Information Processing Tools: News Archives 2005
      · 2005
      · Africa: News Archive 2005
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