As mentioned in the Introduction, one of the main aims of the Directory is to enhance information resource sharing activities between fisheries and aquaculture institutions in Africa. Improved telecommunications, in particular the availability of electronic mail, is making it possible for libraries to more effectively exchange information and to share the resources and expertise available in different institutions.
With this in mind, the Directory will hopefully lead to greater cooperation between libraries and will further the development of joint efforts or networks in fisheries and aquaculture information. Networks provide mechanisms for strengthening individual libraries, for providing cost-effective access to a wider range of information resources and for the effective dissemination of information to a wider audience. Some of these mechanisms, which are briefly mentioned as examples for further discussion, include:
Standard Methodologies. The adoption of standard methodologies for the organization and retrieval of library and information resources enhances inter-library cooperation and provides the end user with access to a wider range of information. They allow libraries similar in scope to more easily access and share each other's information resources, avoid duplication of effort and benefit from the shared expertise of their staff.
Many fisheries and aquaculture libraries adopt the methodologies developed for the production and maintenance of the Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts (ASFA). These provide authoritative standards which are continuously being developed by the international collaboration of the ASFA Partnership. The overall objective of the ASFA Partnership is to disseminate information on aquatic sciences and fisheries to the world community, bearing in mind the special interests of developing countries in this field.
Details of the ASFA information products and services <http://www.fao.org/fi/asfa/asfa.asp> and the ASFIS Reference Series are updated regularly. In addition to bibliographic, abstracting and indexing guidelines, the ASFIS Reference Series includes subject specific methodologies which may be used by fisheries libraries to index and organize their collections, for example:
ASFA Thesaurus: List of terms (subject descriptors) <http://www4.fao.org/asfa/asfa.htm>
ASFIS Geographic Authority List: List of terms (geographic descriptors)
ASFIS Taxonomic List: The ASFIS list of species for fishery statistics purposes is available for downloading <http://www.fao.org/fi/statist/fisoft/asfis/asfis.asp>.
ASFIS Subject Categories and Scope Descriptions: Over 250 subject categories collectively define the subject scope of ASFA. An appropriate subset of these subject categories may be adopted as the classification system for physically organizing the collections in fisheries libraries. <ftp://ftp.fao.org/fi/asfa/subject_categories.doc>
There are obvious benefits in adopting internationally developed standards for indexing references in library catalogues and databases.
Union Lists of Periodicals. To provide more effective access to fisheries and related periodicals on a cost-sharing basis, there are several initiatives at national, regional and international level to create Union Lists, some of which are described at <http://www.fao.org/fi/library/unionper.htm>. These enable the identification of relevant periodicals and their availability in specific libraries. Union Lists and shared cataloguing reduce duplication of effort and facilitate resource sharing and interlibrary cooperation.
The availability of the Internet and World Wide Web provide enormous potential for fisheries and aquaculture information access and dissemination. At the present time, the Directory entries indicate that less than 50% of the institutions have full internet access and many of their Homepages are provided by international organizations via web-hosting arrangements. However, resource-sharing activities between libraries should be designed with future access to the Internet in mind.