Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Open Access Week commemoration "Redefining Impact"

Open Access (OA) Week is being celebrated from October 21 – 27, 2013. The entire week is dedicated to celebrate a successful movement that has culminated into various tremendous fully accessible OA platforms critical for researchers and communicating scholarly works. Electronic Information for Libraries (EIFL) noted that the 2013 celebrations of the global annual event are in the 7th year that promotes open access as a new norm in scholarship and research.

This picture shows the efforts of Bindura University of Science and Education (BUSE) of promoting Open Access (OA) to its community. The OA observarence are going on until the 27th of October. (Picture taken from the BUSE Library Facebook page)

The official theme for 2013 observance is "Open Access: Redefining Impact" which reflect the remarkable transition that OA has brought to publishing models and access methods. Prior the OA movement access to research was becoming a nightmare due to budget cuts and high expectations from patrons that naturally paralysed the profound roles of libraries. In its 7th year a number of declarations that made the OA movement a successful have been signed that started with the signing of the Budapest Open Access Initiative (BOAI) in 2002 in Budapest. That meeting which was convened by the Open Society Institute (OSI) brought together a number of leading OA proponents to forge a holistic approach towards the OA initiatives. This very meeting lead to the signing of the BOAI, which OSI was the first signatory, defined OA as "the free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself." Several other definitions have been published supporting the concepts in this founding definition given by BOAI. Through the years numerous other declarations were signed across the globe to support the fastest growing publishing initiatives.
Recently efforts to support OA have increased with several governments working towards making OA an acceptable publishing model that has incredible rewards in development and research output. Notable efforts have been noticed in the US where the Obama Administration that has signed an agreement to show “committed to ensuring that, to the greatest extent and with the fewest constraints possible and consistent with law and the objectives set out below, the direct results of federally funded scientific research are made available to and useful for the public, industry, and the scientific community. Such results include peer-reviewed publications and digital data.” This is a tremendous response to the OA movement since most research is government sponsored; literary meaning that tax payers are funding the researches.
What then are the benefits of OA? Peter Suber a renowned OA writer, enthusiast and the de facto leader of the Open Access movement, currently the Director of the Harvard Open Access Project has written extensively on the movement to create awareness and understanding of the movement. He noted several benefits of OA which are well documented in his OA book published last year. Suber noted that OA is problem solving, providing no restrictions, free access and available 24/7 outside the library walls. It is important to note that OA has potential to increase visibility of authors and institutions. EIFL observed that “Open access benefits researchers, institutions, nations and society as a whole. There are significant economic, social and educational benefits to making research outputs available without financial, legal and technical barriers to access.”
Zimbabwe has made tremendous progress in OA with university librarians on the forefront. Several noteworthy projects are at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ), National University of Science and Technology (NUST) and Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU). The main mode is through the Institutional Repositories (IR) that form part of the growing University libraries infrastructure. As the world commemorate OA week, Universities in Zimbabwe take the opportunity to market the idea to faculty, researchers and potential authors on the significance of OA for research and scholarly communication. Basically the main thrust is calling for all stakeholders to be involved in OA.

I hope next year the impact of OA in Zimbabwe would have grown and participation would have increased. To date a few institutions from Zimbabwe have registered their IRs with Opendoar the global IR directory.
 Further Readings of OA and Resources
Peter Suber on the state of Open Access: Where are we, what still needs to be done? Availalbe at
 Peter Suber: The Imperative of Open Access. Available at
A list of OA articles by Peter Suber. Available at
 EIFL – OA resources. Available at

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

US library specialist visits Zimbabwe

Part of the librarians from different libraries who attended the presentation by the visiting library speaker Barbara Ford in Harare recently.
Librarians in Zimbabwe's largest cities – Harare, Gweru and Bulawayo – had an opportunity to interact with a visiting library professional from the U.S. based at the Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Barbara Ford. Barbara Ford is the director of the Mortenson Center for International Library Programs and Mortenson Distinguished Professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She has been recognized with awards by American Library Association (ALA), Chinese American Librarians Association (CALA), and University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for her significant contributions and dedication to international librarianship. In 2011, she was appointed to the U.S. National Commission for UNESCO.

Her presentations and discussions focused on the top ten fundamental trends in libraries – academic, public and school libraries. These are based on the 2012 “top ten trends” released every two years by Association of Colleges and Research Libraries (ACRL) Research Planning and Review Committee. ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee is responsible for creating and updating a continuous and dynamic environmental scan for the association that encompasses trends in academic librarianship, higher education, and the broader environment, e.g., economic, demographic, political; providing an annual environmental scan “snapshot.” The committee also is responsible for identifying the ACRL “top ten trends” for release every two years.

The presentations by Ford covered topics such as advocating for the value of libraries, library user needs and expectations, need for staff training and development, mobile services in libraries, and how information and communication technologies can help meet these needs and deliver expanded access to information and new services. She also deliberated on data curation, patron driven e-book acquisition, scholarly communication and digital preservation. All these are not new topics in Zimbabwe but they are presenting different challenges for each library as we seek to transform our libraries from the traditional model to fuse new library driven technology for a better service.
Barbara Ford during one of the presentation at the Zimbabe Open University in Harare.
Based on the ACRL report the top ten trends are also presenting challenges to U.S. libraries as new applications are emerging and user behaviour is dramatically being shaped with technology. An emphasis is on collaboration as an approach for providing solutions with the aid of a vibrant library association. The need for a knowledgeable library staff in the emerging technologies is vital for immediate adaptation to the new environment. The increase in scholarly publishing is vital for continued efforts by librarians to provide information resources through digital libraries together with appropriate curation and preservation strategies.
Ford noted that there is a strong interest among librarians in Zimbabwe to provide programmes to develop the information literacy of the public.  The interest in topics such as digitization to preserve cultural heritage and how to make information available on mobile devices is growing in Zimbabwe. “Attendees to presentations were eager for information on new technologies and approaches for providing information through iPads, tablets and other tools”, said Ford.

One-on-one - Mr F Mutindindi and Mr Choto discussing a few pointers during a break at the Breakfast meeting.
Her visit included working meetings with library association leadership from the branches to help think through issues relating to low membership and lack of advocacy for libraries. She hoped that ZimLA would discuss with IFLA for a joint programming for the 2015 conference in South Africa. Possibility for a Fulbright scholar in library and information science was discussed to help transform the library profession in Zimbabwe.
Barbara Fords' visit to Zimbabwe was facilitiated by the U.S. Embassy in Harare through the Speaker program. Perhaps, the following unedited comments from Facebook page of ZimLA show the hype following Barbara Ford’s visit.  
Lantern Rangarirai Fusire (ZimLA Acting President) wrote We had a good opportunity of meeting and listening to a presentation by Professor B J Ford at the breakfast meeting at the Bulawayo Public Library auditorium on Thursday 3rd of October. Her presentation on Current trends in libraries in the USA was quite informative. The presentation was urging us as librarians and information professionals to adapt to change, promote dynamic libraries, and to think outside the box. Thank you Professor Ford. Thank you USA Embassy. Thank you library and information professionals who attended this meeting in large numbers.”
Pride Bhebhe wrote this in response to Lantern Fusire “I can confirm you statement as a transcript of the meeting Mr Fusire, the presentation was informative indeed..”

Jerry Mathema (ZimLA Mat Chairperson) wrote, On behalf of the ZimLA National Executive Council, Matabeleland Branch Executive and the US Public Affairs Directorate, I would like to convey my sincere gratitude to our distinguished librarians, Archivists, Records officers, information officers etc who devoted their precious time in attending the just ended breakfast meeting on emerging trends in librarianship. The unwavering support you have rendered is greatly appreciated and without it the association would not be where it is now, it would have crumbled and crashed to the ground. You are the pillar of our strength and we cling and snuggle on your shoulders. Lastly I would like to assure you that we take seriously the linkages we have sealed between You, ZimLA and the US Public Affairs Department. It is my wish that we continually maintain and cherish them. Once again thank you very much, siyabonga, enkosi, tatenda, toboka, ndolivhuwa, twalumbwa.Lingadinwa lakusasa,ukwandakwaliwa ngabathakathi !
Mthulisi Ndebele (ZimLA Midlands) wrote “We had a great presentation from Prof Ford at the Gweru Memorial library...

Further Reading
ACRL Research Planning and Review Committee (2012). “2012 top ten trends in academic libraries: A review of the trends and issues affecting academic libraries in higher education.” College & Research Libraries News vol. 73 no. 6 311-320. [Internet] Available at