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The BLDS Digital Library: open access to African research


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Paper presented at the UK African Studies Association biennial conference, September 2014.

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The BLDS Digital Library: open access to African research

  1. 1. The BLDS Digital Library: open access to African grey literature Rachel Playforth Repository Coordinator British Library for Development Studies ASAUK 11 September 2014
  2. 2. The world according to number of scientific publications* © Copyright Sasi Group (University of Sheffield) and Mark Newman (University of Michigan). CC By-NC-ND *2001 data from SCI and SSCI via World Development Indicators
  3. 3. Rationale Scientific and technological information and knowledge is critical to the development of Africa. However, very little research output from Africa finds its way into the international journals. Much of it is in the form of grey literature … and is not visible and easily accessible to potential users (Chisenga, 2006) By making available research generated in poor countries in addition to knowledge created in well-endowed institutions, institutional repositories could play a role in bridging the global knowledge gap. (Chan, 2004) “grey literature,” which libraries used to receive from departments and research centers in paper, now often exist[s] only on the web; the risk of loss is great if there is not an archival system like an IR in place. (Kennison et al., 2013) Downloads per item are often higher for grey literature than for published articles. (Schopfel et al.,2012)
  4. 4. Our collection  National and international resource for development studies  Over 200,000 titles, 1 million physical items  60% published in developing countries  High proportion of unique holdings including grey literature  = good candidates for digitisation
  5. 5. Project background and funding  Mobilizing Knowledge for Development (2010-2013)  improving the profile and accessibility of Southern development research  digitisation of BLDS holdings  BLDS Digital Library (2011-)  Global Open Knowledge Hub (2013-2016)  supporting local (Southern) digitisation  OpenDocs and IDS institutional repository linkages
  6. 6. The BLDS Digital Library  DSpace open source software  Searchable and browsable  Community/ collection structure  Indexed by Google, GScholar, OpenDOAR, JURN…
  7. 7. Our approach  What’s not already online/widely distributed?  Low hanging copyright fruit  Focus countries in Africa and South Asia  IDS research themes  Openness vs IP protection
  8. 8. Our partners 22 universities and research institutes Based in 8 African and 6 Asian countries
  9. 9. BLDS Digital Library benefits Discoverability Searchable, harvestable, described, linked Openness Free, reusable, CC licensed Preservation Stored, backed up, uniquely identified Authority Brand association, quality controlled Metrics Public and custom usage statistics
  10. 10. Community benefits  OpenDocs enriched as a repository – not just institutional.  Wide range of research/voices in one place.  Brings together dispersed outputs  Equity for Southern-produced research.
  11. 11. What’s in the Digital Library  Working papers, conference proceedings, reports, briefings, theses etc  Social sciences especially economic, social and political development  2650 full-text papers so far  1953 – 2014
  12. 12. Usage and demographics  Around 20,000 downloads per month  Around 13% of all downloads come from Africa  High usage in Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda  Demand for African research about Africa
  13. 13. Partnership models 1. From 10 digitised documents to national agreements: Forum for Social Studies, Ethiopia 2. From supply to demand: Research on Poverty Alleviation, Tanzania 3. From BLDS collections to local capacity: University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
  14. 14. Forum for Social Studies, Ethiopia 1. Initial digitisation from BLDS holdings 2. In-country capacity building and equipment transfer 3. Development of own repository 4. CEARL, national planning and MoU
  15. 15. REPOA, Tanzania 1. Request for inclusion 2. BLDS download of born digital materials 3. Copies added to BLDS Digital Library
  16. 16. University of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa 1. Initial digitisation from BLDS holdings 2. Further material supplied by partner 3. BLDS funding for human resources and equipment 4. Remote training and support 5. Full in-country digitisation, unique material now online
  17. 17. Sustainability  Our funding ends in 2016 – what next?  Secure IDS institutional infrastructure (shared Dspace platform)  Potentially self-sustaining, but…  …requires internal institutional capacity of partners CEARL National Digital Repository Workshop, Addis Ababa, February 2013 Photo by BLDS  Technology is not enough
  18. 18. Issues, barriers and lessons learned  Permission seeking  non-response  licensing and IP/revenue protection  Institutional politics  Resource-poor contexts  Partner needs vs funder restrictions  No one-size-fits-all approach  Resource-intensive  Mutual learning
  19. 19. Image credits and references All graphics from The Noun Project, public domain or CC By as below: Search designed by Gianni - Dolce Merda Document designed by iconoci Statistics designed by Nate Eul Team designed by Stephen Borengasser Chan, L. (2004). Supporting and Enhancing Scholarship in the Digital Age: The Role of Open Access Institutional Repository. Canadian Journal Of Communication, 29(3). Chisenga, J. (2006) ‘The development and use of digital libraries, institutional digital repositories and open access archives for research and national development in Africa: opportunities and challenges.’ Presented at the Workshop on Building African Capacity to Implement the Outcomes of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) in the Sphere of Libraries and Access to Information and Knowledge, Addis Ababa, Tuesday, 28 March 2006. Kennison, R, Shreeves, SL, Harnad, S. (2013). Point & Counterpoint: The Purpose of Institutional Repositories: Green OA or Beyond?. Journal of Librarianship and Scholarly Communication 1(4). Schöpfel, J., Prost, H., & Le Bescond, I. (2012) Open Is Not Enough: Grey Literature in Institutional Repositories. In GL 13: Thirteenth International Conference on Grey Literature: The Grey Circuit. From Social Networking to Wealth Creation. Washington, 5-6 December 2011.
  20. 20. Thank you! @blds_library @archelina