In the 1980s and 1990s libraries in the developing world suffered greatly from a lack of funding. Additional funding did not pick up until the latter part of the 1990s and now there is a renewed effort to bolster access to information in developing countries through even more funding. Why? In 2013, for example, the entire African continent put out a total of 27,000 academic papers according to a recent report published in August, Library Value in the Developing World. That is equivalent to the total number put out by the Netherlands alone. There is no question, then, that libraries in developing countries are in desperate need of a total technology overhaul where students, academics, and researchers have greater access to online information.
With the new push towards online journals, developing countries are still playing catch up with the rest of the world. Although access to universal education is improving, improvements are slow. Access to high-speed Internet is not ubiquitous across the board in the developing world and its reliability is often brought into question.
The aforementioned study reports that developing countries fail to fund libraries in the amounts that will ensure significant improvements. We could argue that that is the same here in the States, but that’s a discussion for another day. In regards to developing countries, low funding is why private foundations and NGOs are stepping in to fill the gaps. The Elsevier Foundation just announced the winners of new grants that are specifically earmarked to improve libraries in developing countries. Some of the grants are going to American institutions that are working with libraries abroad to better improve to information while some of the grants are going directly to libraries abroad.
The funded programs along with their links are below. To learn about applying next year visit www.elsevierfoundation.org/innovative-libraries/how-to-apply
- Author Capacity Building in Africa, Albert R. Mann Library, Cornell University
- Towards the Collaborative repository for Ethiopian academic and research institutions, Consortium of Ethiopian Academic and Research Libraries (CEARL) and African Digital Library Support Network (ADLSN).
- Library Information Resources to Enhance the University of Ghana, School of Public Health Program, Morehouse School of Medicine
- Strengthening education, research and practice in emergency care: Information skills integration in the Ghana Emergency Medicine Collaborative, Taubman Health Sciences Library, University of Michigan Library
- Developing a Globally Connected LIBRARY 4 SAFE SEAFARING (L4SS), Mariners Polytechnic Colleges Foundation, Philippines