BLDS partnerships in mobilising knowledge for development

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Helen Rehin, British Library for Development Studies

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  • Hello.
    I am the Deputy Librarian at British Library for Development Studies, and I’m going to talk to you today about our work with partners.
  • The British Library for Development Studies/ BLDS is based at the Institute of Development Studies / IDS. IDS is a research institute on the campus of (but not a part of) the University of Sussex in Brighton, the UK. As well as research, the Institute undertakes post-graduate teaching, and hosts a range of knowledge services, all focused on international development issues.
    BLDS: began 40-odd years ago as the library of IDS (Not part of BL!) Our holdings, built up since then form the largest collection in Europe of materials on social and economic development - a multi- and inter-disciplinary field of study, which is constantly evolving. Holdings therefore cover social, economic, political, technological and cultural aspects of societal change, primarily in developing countries.
    The collection consists of approximately one million individual items held in over four miles (or 7KM) of shelving space, with over200,000 records on the catalogue. We have a specific mandate to collect material FROM developing countries, and these comprise approximately 60% of the collection.
    Our remit is much wider than simply serving the parent institution. Whilst we do have a very strong local role in supporting staff and postgraduates from the Institute and also the University of Sussex, whose campus we are on, we also have an international role, and it is the partnerships to support this role that I am going to focus on today in my presentation.
  • The international work of the library focuses on 3 strategic goals:
    Increasing access to information for development practitioners
    Increasing the profile of research published in developing countries
    Developing the capacity of information intermediaries to provide access to, find and use information
    We use the term information intermediary to mean any individual or organisation that plays one or more of a range of functions that increase the supply and demand for research knowledge, including librarians and libraries.
    So far the majority of our international work has focused on Africa, though we are also extending our partnerships to Asia
  • The library is funded by DFID as part of a 3 year programme of work called Mobilising Knowledge for Development – hence my presentation title! Although not the entirety of what we do, this contributes to us reaching the strategic goals just mentioned. The programme is being delivered along with other Knowledge Services in the Institute, and consists of 3 main outputs.
    These are
    Improved access to credible research knowledge through profiling and synthesis.
    More effective platforms for sharing research knowledge globally
    Improved capacity of intermediaries to stimulate demand for research knowledge
    The 2 in purple are the ones in which BLDS is fundamentally engaged.
    Working in partnership with organisations internationally is essential to meet the library’s strategic aims and these expected outcomes of the MK4D Programme. We also recognise that this is not work which we can do alone, and that there is a great deal that we can learn from our peers in the South.
  • Two key areas where BLDS is currently developing partnerships:
    Increasing access to development information, especially that published in the South and for those in the South, which is clearly important in terms of providing contextually appropriate information for researchers.
    Developing an information literacy programme
  • The work we are doing to improve access to quality research for those in the South draws on the extensive collection of material we hold, already mentioned. I have identified 5 main types of partner under this heading, as indicated here, but we are in the process of developing more.
    I will talk briefly on the individual areas through the next slides.
  • The programme has been going for over 20 years.
    We exchange IDS publications for those produced by a range of institutions, in more than 30 countries.
    Currently we have a total of 125 regular organisations on our exchange database, with a further 100 which we are currently chasing up. 74 of the sustained exchanges are with Southern organisations, 14 of these in Sub-Saharan Africa.
    We are now working to ensure that we have an exchange agreement with at least one development related research organisation in each developing country (though in some cases we will have more).
    This increases the Southern content in our own collection (especially of otherwise hard to source material), and disseminates IDS research more widely. It also often provides partners with material which they may otherwise struggle to afford.
  • We have a document delivery service, where we send scans or copies of articles, book chapters, and in some cases where we have agreed copyright, whole monographs from our collection, to individuals – often librarians and intermediaries – who request them.
    1 Our key partnership in this area is with the Global Development Network (GDN), a global network of research and policy institutes based in Cairo, who fund us to provide free document delivery to their members. 190 Southern organisations are registered with the service through GDN and we have supplied documents to 20 different Southern countries in the last 6 months.
     
  • Global reach partnerships:
    2 years ago we became partners of the Research4Life Programme, initially working with WHO. This programme provides users in developing countries with free, or low cost, access to peer reviewed journals through 3 linked portals – HINARI (health journals), AGORA (agricultural journals), OARE (environmental journals).
    We work with Research4Life in several ways, but in this instance to promote access to economic and social development journals as part of the 3 programmes. We have done this by creating a ‘development’ subsection for these sites, as well as enabling cross-journal searching (not otherwise a feature) by linking to our own articles database.
    Related to this, we are in the process of strengthening our links with INASP, (who are represented here today by Peter Burnett), at least in part so that we can work more closely with them on their PERII - Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information – which also involves affordable access to international scholarly literature.
  • One thing we do to increase the accessibility and profile of development information, is to index a large selection of journals we take. Currently, we index articles from 170 journals. 98 of these are Southern journals, most of which are not indexed by any other services.
    Last year we began a metadata exchange partnership with is the Open Index Initiative led by the Indira Ghandi Institute of Development Research in Mumbai. IDGIR now regularly provide us with abstracts for articles in 8 Indian journals, in return for records which include subject headings from 8 journals which we take.
    We see this as a very effective way of collaborating in order to raise the profile of Indian journals in our collection, as well as saving both institutes time. We are hoping to extend the model to other Southern organisations which produce enhanced catalogue records, so if any of you in the audience know of such organisations, or do this yourself, please do get in touch.
  • The final kind of partnership that we have which helps improve access to quality research are digitisation partnerships, although these partnerships are just being established.
    As mentioned before, we have a huge range of Southern research in our collection, and we have very recently started a programme to digitise mainly historical research published in developing countries that is currently accessible only in print form.
    A key element is that we will be digitising those materials which organisations would like to disseminate more widely but do not have their own resources to do this with.
    We will make the digitised content available via our website, and will encourage the publishing organisations to link or host the materials themselves. We will also be aiming to optimise finding via search engines.
    So far we are at the stage of identifying potential holdings (including checking whether they are already available online or not), and are approaching the first batch of copyright holders offering to digitise this research and to make it available online. We will be asking for permission under a ‘creative commons’ licence, thus enabling future sharing and dissemination of any content, by others as well as ourselves.
    This means that we will be able to disseminate the materials in other ways which benefit the development community in the future. For example, it is possible we would provide digitised content to the the eGranary Digital Library, run by the WiderNet, which provides content to Southern organisations with inadequate internet access.
  • So far I’ve been talking about initiatives which are concerned with the supply of knowledge, and in particular that which originates in developing countries. However, providing access to knowledge is often not enough to ensure its take-up. ‘Information capability’ - the ability to appreciate, access and use information - is a pre-requisite to this, and we have recently started to develop a programme focussing on this in developing country contexts.
    The information capability programme incorporates three main goals, as indicated here.
    to improve the pedagogical and facilitation skills of trainers who are running information literacy courses
    to incorporate more monitoring and evaluation into information literacy courses in order to measure impact
    to recognise the institutional context in which course participants are working, and to work on some of the barriers that limit demand for research.
  • To further these aims, we are developing partnerships with a number of organisations, including ITOCA ( the Information Training Outreach Centre for Africa), INASP, and Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU).
    ITOCA are a South African based organisation who specialise in information skills training, and currently deliver information literacy courses for the Research4Life programmes already mentioned. We are working intensively with ITOCA over the next 6 months to develop and pilot courses for participants in 7 African countries which will focus on improved pedagogy and facilitation skills. The countries are Ghana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Nigeria, Uganda, Ethiopia and Kenya.
    With INASP we have recently agreed to collaborate on an information literacy programme for the University of Zambia, although details are still being decided.
    With the Association of Commonwealth Universities and INASP we have started to discuss ways of influencing the institutional context in which research is accessed and used in African universities.
  • That’s a summary of our partnership work, which as I’ve indicated, we hope to be developing considerably.
    I’ve included here the web addresses of some of the organisations I’ve mentioned.
  • Thanks for listening.
  • BLDS partnerships in mobilising knowledge for development

    1. 1. BLDS partnerships in mobilising knowledge for development Helen Rehin Deputy Librarian British Library for Development Studies
    2. 2. British Library for Development Studies • Based at the Institute of Development Studies/ IDS (Brighton, UK) • Contains the largest collection of economic and social development materials in Europe • Over half of this collection originates from the global South
    3. 3. BLDS International programme 3 strategic goals: • Increase access to information for development practitioners • Increase the profile of research published in developing countries • Develop the capacity of information intermediaries to provide access to, find and use information
    4. 4. Mobilising Knowledge for Development • Improved access to credible research knowledge through profiling and synthesis. • More effective platforms for sharing research knowledge globally • Improved capacity of intermediaries to stimulate demand for research knowledge
    5. 5. BLDS Partnership work • Increasing access to development information • Developing an information literacy programme
    6. 6. Improving access to quality research for those in the South • Publications exchange partnerships • Document delivery partnerships • Global reach partnerships • Metadata exchange partnerships • Digitisation partnerships
    7. 7. Exchange programme • Programme has been in existence for over 20 years. • We exchange IDS Bulletin for printed series produced by partner organisations. • 125 regular partners. • Plans: to ensure we have an exchange agreement with at least one research organisation in each developing country
    8. 8. Document Delivery • Partnership with Global Development Network (GDN) which allows us to supply free document delivery to Southern users.
    9. 9. Global reach • Partnership with Research4Life – enabling access to and searchability of development journals available through the HINARI & OARE & AGORA programmes.
    10. 10. Metadata exchange • Partnership with Open Index Initiative / Indira Ghandi Institute of Development Research to increase the profile of Indian research in our collection.
    11. 11. Digitisation • Partnerships currently being established. • We plan to digitise those materials publishers / copyright holders would like more widely available and disseminated. • Will make available online through creative commons.
    12. 12. Developing an information capability programme • to improve the pedagogical and facilitation skills of trainers who are running information literacy courses • to incorporate more monitoring and evaluation into information literacy courses • to recognise the institutional context in which course participants are working, and to work on some of the barriers that limit demand for research
    13. 13. Information capability Information Training Outreach Centre for Africa – ITOCA - developing an ‘Information Literacy Educators’ Programme INASP – intended collaboration on a programme for the University of Zambia Association of Commonwealth Universities and INASP - discussing ways of influencing the institutional context in which research is accessed and used in African universities.
    14. 14. Web addresses: • BLDS - http://www.blds.ids.ac.uk • Research4Life: -http://www.research4life.org • Global Development Network (GDN) - http://www.gdnet.org • ITOCA - http://www.itoca.org • INASP - http://www.inasp.info • IDGIDR - http://www.igidr.ac.in • Open Index Initiative (OII )- http://oii.igidr.ac.in • Association of Commonwealth Universities - http://www.acu.ac.uk
    15. 15. Thank You Helen Rehin Email: h.rehin@ids.ac.uk British Library for Development Studies http://www.blds.ids.ac.uk

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