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This section gives a brief summary of the various possibilities for funding and collaboration which were discussed. They provide ideas and proposals for action and focus on achieving the overall objectives of the network, namely:

3.1 Opportunities for network development

This is by no means intended to be a complete list of relevant organizations but simply those which were mentioned by participants based on personal knowledge or experience. They are in no particular order and the workshop agreed that all avenues should be explored to help improve the information services which libraries provide to their primary users.

The fisheries sector: Several participants named collaboration with the fisheries industry and sector as a whole as potentially the most effective mechanism for strengthening libraries and information resources. Some countries are moving towards income generation as an essential requirement of research institutions, up to 30 percent of the overall budget was mentioned in one case. This includes income generated from information services, which would certainly provide an opportunity for greater interaction with industry as well as a greater awareness of the costs involved. Consultants were named as one of the most frequent user groups in several libraries, which are now considering introducing charges for their information services. This would seem a reasonable practice, particularly as consultants would incorporate the charges in their overall fee. The trend towards decentralization of fisheries management and the involvement of a larger community of stakeholders provides many challenges for library services. It also provides a much wider potential customer base with which to interact than does the traditional centralized Fisheries Department.

Research programmes: Almost everyone admitted that their libraries are not sufficiently active when it comes to being involved in the decision-making processes at their institutions, particularly when the research budget is being allocated. Unless the library makes an input to the requirements for funding in research and development programmes, the costs of the information resources to support those programmes are almost never taken into account. Administrators and accountants do not generally use the library and they may be totally unaware of the essential role it plays in the research process. At best they assume that the library, once built, is like a bridge and requires occasional maintenance. The researchers themselves are usually too busy competing for insufficient funds. Several participants mentioned that research funds often include an amount to allow individual researchers to travel to another country to obtain information, rather than strengthening their own libraries. This can hardly be considered an economic benefit to the institution, especially in the long term.

Library consortia: Libraries everywhere are forming consortia to jointly fund the acquisition or access to information resources, in particular electronic and full text resources. FAO is part of the UN Libraries Consortium and SAIAB benefits from a South African consortium. The workshop included a paper on the recently established Malawi Library and Information Consortium (MALICO) and the lessons learned and experience gained by the libraries involved should be of benefit to other participants.

Bilateral and multilateral donors: Several of the participants have contacts with donor organizations which are funding fisheries or information projects in their countries. The overall outcome of the discussion indicated that in general there is not a close relationship between fisheries libraries and the donor community. Examples given were some of the very large and expensive projects to create national internet portals and virtual libraries, in situations where the individual libraries and institutions with poor resources are not involved and are doubtful that these systems can be maintained once the funding dries up. The question was raised as to why research institutions often have donor funded laboratory facilities but far fewer donor funded libraries. Some libraries have benefited from donor funded computer hardware and software but these are not normally upgraded or maintained when the project ends. There may be no other reason than the fact that libraries, especially fisheries libraries, do not require the same kind of large single investment that donors are accustomed to work with, their costs are relatively small but they are ongoing and as soon as the funding stops their collections and services are in limbo, although fortunately not usually dead.

International organizations: Activities to strengthen national institutions and capacity building fall within the mandate of many international organizations. The FAO Fisheries Department has, within its Regular Programme, several areas which include improved access to and dissemination of fisheries information, in particular in developing countries. The EU-ACP research initiative provides opportunities for libraries, including the work of CTA and its many information programmes. UNESCO continues to develop and promote the CDS/ISIS library software as well as other information management tools which are made available free of charge. The WorldFish Center supports library and information services in fisheries and aquaculture.

Foundations: The three which were mentioned are the International Foundation for Science which supports scientists in developing countries, the Rockefeller Foundation which is supporting AGORA and the Mellon Foundation which is supporting Rhodes University and SAIAB Library’s access to full text journals.

National and international library associations: Several participants reported strong, some politically active national library associations, in which fisheries libraries should participate and take advantage of the benefits of this collaboration. Library qualifications and skills are very variable in fisheries institutions and the group agreed that a postgraduate level qualification is essential for specialized library work. The library training programmes in some countries still focus too narrowly on the skills of cataloguing and organization of the collection, with far too little emphasis on information technology (IT) and information dissemination. One of the consequences of this is that in some situations the IT staff is making decisions in information management and dissemination, areas in which they have no expertise. Many of the workshop participants have postgraduate library qualifications and are actively involved in networking to upgrade skills and to share their expertise as well as information. At international level, participants are represented at both IAMSLIC and IFLA. Those fisheries institutions which do not have established library posts or qualified staff to carry out the functions are at a serious disadvantage.

Fisheries and aquaculture societies and associations: Several examples were given of professional societies which have programmes beneficial to fisheries libraries, namely the World Aquaculture Society’s Outreach Programme provides back issues of its publications to libraries in Africa free of charge; the Western Indian Ocean Marine Science Association (WIOMSA) provides a mechanism for the dissemination of information and publications. A directory of contact points in these and other relevant societies would be useful in helping to acquire publications.

Publishers: Taking advantage of the participation of NISC South Africa at the workshop it was possible to include their ideas for collaboration with libraries as a basis for more interaction with the publishing world in general. As an African company with expertise in database compilation and electronic publishing, NISC South Africa is enthusiastic to be involved in the improved dissemination and distribution of African literature. They index and publish grey literature and other African aquatic publications in bibliographic format and offer technical support to the users of its products. The inclusion of holding library and document delivery information in the FISHLIT database is a contribution to resources sharing. They would consider publishing other databases such as directories and union catalogues, in addition to their specialized bibliographic databases. They could offer advice on digitization and the electronic publishing of grey literature. Collaborating with publishers could provide opportunities for libraries in several areas, including better exposure of locally published information in international databases.

Regional networks: The lessons learned and the benefits of networking were presented in the paper on ODINAFRICA, a regional network which has been in existence since 1989, when it was established as the RECOSCIX-WIO network. The workshop agreed that networking gives libraries the possibility to provide access to better information resources, to improve library services and to share expertise. However, the most important aspect of network development is the commitment of the people involved, their ability to build consensus and their capacity to cooperate.

Information sharing initiatives and opportunities for collaboration


Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts: An International Cooperative Information System


Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation ACP-EU: Advancing agricultural & rural development in African, Caribbean and Pacific countries by promoting the transfer, exchange and utilisation of information.


The International Association of Aquatic and Marine Science Libraries and Information Centers: Africa Regional Group. Z39.50 Distributed Library.


The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions: Endorsement of Open Access


International Foundation for Science:
An NGO providing support to developing country scientists - including information.


Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information: a programme to support research and capacity building in developing and transitional countries.


NISC South Africa: an African publisher with expertise in database compilation and electronic publishing.


Ocean Data and Information Network for Africa: Co-ordinated by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, aimed at improving information and data supply, dissemination and resource sharing.


Support Unit for International Fisheries and Aquatic Research: Its mandate includes improving information sharing


World Aquaculture Society. Outreach Programme: Distributes free back issues of its publications to libraries.

WorldFish Center

A CGIAR international research centre for fisheries and aquaculture.

3.2 Constraints to network development

The list of constraints would be very long if taken individually but, despite all of them, the workshop agreed that networking provides good opportunities to strengthen libraries and share expertise, particularly in a time of such rapid change. The same constraints discussed at the workshop are summed up in answer to the United Nations Economic and Social Council question: Are Africa's libraries capable of playing their rightful roles in development?[8]

Institutional constraints

The support of the director of the institution is vital to the effective running of the library. This is particularly important when the library is misplaced in the organizational structure, often with administration rather than a more natural alliance with research or with information and communication. Libraries are often competing with scientists for scarce financial resources and the competition is seldom on an equal footing. The result is that the library budget is at best inadequate, and in several cases non existent for the purchase of publications and access to information. Library staff should be motivated, have career prospects and have the support of the institution hierarchy.

National constraints

Many of the problems identified by participants were attributed to the lack of real government support for an information infrastructure, policy and development at national level. This is seen as the main reason for the lack of adequately qualified staff in many fisheries and other governmental research institution libraries. Rosenberg[9] questions the relevance of resource sharing in Africa and concludes that the underlying problems which have caused the decline in information services must be solved before libraries can benefit from networking. Most of these problems have to be solved at national level.

Network constraints

Many of the issues which were regarded as potential problem areas for an African fisheries library network in fact proved to be relatively unimportant for the participants at this stage e.g. language, sub-regional needs, marine or freshwater environment, institution type. The information needs of all are similar, often the same, and are considered the most important linking factor. The areas of constraint which are considered important and where a network would have to pay particular attention are:

3.3 Workplan for 2004

1. Mapping the fisheries information resources in Africa

The Directory of Fisheries and Aquaculture Information Resources in Africa is maintained as an online database <> by FAO.

FAO will add new fields to reflect better access to a wider variety of electronic resources, dissemination via the Internet and digitization programmes. Redundant fields will be removed and the database updated with information collected at the Workshop

Deadline: End December 2003.

Participants at the Workshop will provide any further updates for their institutional records and propose ways to collect data for country records.

Deadline: End January 2004.

The need for another output format such as revised print edition, CD-ROM version or alternative Internet hosting system will be revisited in 2005.

The Directory of Internet addresses of national and regional fisheries and aquaculture institutions and organizations in Africa will be maintained by FAO at Additions and corrections will be supplied to FAO on an ongoing basis in order to keep this resource as current as possible.

2. Technology for document delivery

Used by SAIAB: Minolta Photocopier, HP Scan Jet 3530C Scanner. Articles are sent as PDF attachments but this option is only used when the request is for one or two articles.

Used by FAO: The Library applies an organization-wide solution for document scanning using XEROX photocopiers supplemented with a document scanning facility (Document Centre 220ST and Document Centre 332ST). This facility provides for the creation and use of templates to scan single or double side documents, and produce single or multipage files, compressed CCITTT Group 3/4or uncompressed. The TIFF images are further processed using PaperPort image processing software. This allows for cleaning the files, straightening pages, and inserting identification information in each file. The TIFF files produced from FAO documents are distributed via FTP (file transfer protocol) by storing the documents on the FAO external FTP server and providing access information to the client. Alternatively, the documents are copied onto CD-ROM for mail delivery. In both cases the files can be viewed using the standard Microsoft Office document imaging program. Ariel is used for document exchange of subscription items with partner libraries to safeguard copyright.

Used by ODINAFRICA: Prospero software has been installed in all twenty ODINAFRICA information centres, although no statistics on sending and receipt were available. Prospero is an open source free software but there are some limitations, for example the need for a server.

Bunda College Library agreed to investigate further the requirements, advantages and costs of both Ariel and Prospero.

Deadline: End January 2004.

Based on an evaluation of the above options a proposal for a technological solution for document delivery should be agreed. If funding is required a proposal should be prepared and funding agencies contacted.

Deadline: End March 2004.

3. Union list of fisheries and aquaculture serial holdings in Africa

The workshop agreed to use the IAMSLIC Z39.50 Union List of Marine and Aquatic Serials and request IAMSLIC for the possibility of regionalising the requests.

This will require that all participants are IAMSLIC members in order to use this facility, that there is commitment to enter at least the fisheries serials published in one's country and that IAMSLIC will agree to implement an African regional focus.

FAO Fisheries Library has already entered over 600 serial titles not available elsewhere in the system; SAIAB Library has started to enter its journal holdings; KMFRI indicated that they intend to enter their journal holdings during 2004. This will provide a good basis upon which to build a document exchange mechanism between African fisheries libraries.

Subsequent to the meeting the following reply was received from Steve Watkins, IAMSLIC President:

"If the African libraries decide to enter their holdings into the Union List of Marine and Aquatic Serials, it would be not too difficult to export only the records for those libraries on a periodic basis. It could be output as a fairly simple text file which could be re-formatted and edited if needed and then distributed on floppy disks. For those who would search via Internet, an additional link on the Union List Search page would enable searches within the region's libraries for resource sharing among African member libraries. The problem of requests going to libraries for which fax, Ariel or Prospero are not possible or affordable should be addressed when they are considering inputting titles and any restrictions regarding costs of delivery can be added to their library record. Focussing on their unique, regional serials would reduce the number of requests. Participation in the Z39.50 will enhance resource sharing within Africa and that benefit should probably outweigh any of the other potential problems".

Deadline: End December 2004.

SAIAB to complete entering holdings.

KMFRI to enter holdings.

At least three more libraries to enter national fisheries publications.

4. Full-text online journals

All eligible participants with Internet access are encouraged to register for access to online services such as AGORA and PERI. They are also requested to widely promote the availability of online services to their scientists and other users. Wherever possible to raise awareness of these services to the fisheries and aquaculture community in their country and via other networks in the region.

Deadline: December 2003.

Eligible participants to register with AGORA.

Eligible participants with Internet access to investigate access to PERI in their country.

Deadline: December 2004.

FAO and participants to promote and monitor usage of AGORA and provide feedback.

5. African fisheries and aquaculture publications

The main objective is to improve the capture, preservation and dissemination of African fisheries publications at regional and international level. FAO will maintain a database of African fisheries serials which will include details of their availability in digital format.

Deadline: December 2003.

All participants to send completed serials lists to M. Shaw.

Deadline: December 2004.

FAO will carry out a sample survey of African fisheries libraries and, using case studies complete an overview of the status and requirements for the dissemination of fisheries publications in digital format.

In order to better disseminate and distribute African fisheries publications, participants are encouraged to establish exchange agreements between libraries.

Deadline: Throughout 2004.

Monitor the number of active and effective exchange agreements.

In order to ensure a repository for African fisheries print publications in Africa and coverage in international databases:

Deadline: Throughout 2004

Copies of fisheries publications to be sent to SAIAB and FAO for input to the ABAFR and ASFA databases respectively. SAIAB will maintain the repository of print publications. Statistics will be kept on the publications and on database entries.

In order to ensure better coverage of African fisheries publications in international databases to investigate the possibilities for more ASFA input centres in Africa.

Deadline: Throughout 2004.

Feedback on status of input centres in Africa and reports of any new partners.

In order to improve dissemination of local fisheries publications databases and collections more work needs to be done on mechanisms for compatibility and inter-operability with international systems.

Deadline: Throughout 2004.

Case studies to be carried out in collaboration with Bunda College, Malawi and NIFFR, Nigeria which both have local collections and databases. The following areas will be reported on: database software compatibility, standard methodologies to improve indexing, compatibility to encourage exchange of data. The case studies will be included in the FAO/IAMSLIC project to provide guidelines for open access to digital documents.

6. Expanding the network and network focal points

In order to increase the number of active participants in the network:

Deadline: March 2004.

FAO and SAIAB to review the list of ASFA/ABAFR recipients and contact potential new partners.

Deadline: October 2004.

SAIAB to promote the use of document delivery, raise awareness of full text resources, encourage participation of network members. Provide statistics on network activity.

In order to test the requirements, constraints and benefits of network focal points to improve the flow of information at national level and avoid duplication of effort:

Deadline: March 2004.

Two case studies were prepared for the workshop, Bunda and NIFFR, both positive on the idea of a focal point. To further discuss with their organizations and with the FAO Inland Water Resources and Aquaculture Service to evaluate the possibilities for pilot projects in these countries.

7. The use of standard methodologies to enhance information exchange

This important but complex area should be further studied and elaborated upon in order to raise awareness on the need for standard methodologies to enhance information dissemination and exchange.

Deadline: Throughout 2004.

ASFA input centres, old and new, will be asked to comment on the use of ASFIS indexing terms and the ASFISIS software as potential library tools.

FAO to contribute to the IAMSLIC project to produce guidelines on standards for the storage and retrieval of digital documents.

8. Sustainability of the network

All network participants to seek funding possibilities at national level. The list of national and international possibilities which were discussed is given in part 3.01 of the Report.

Deadline: June 2004.

SAIAB to compile details of funding and grant proposals made by participants or by network, list of potential collaborators and any feedback on funding ideas.

In order to improve communications among participants and seek opportunities for the next meeting. Everyone agreed that regular e-mail contact and discussion is the most effective ongoing networking tool.

Deadline: March 2004.

FAO and SAIAB to investigate the possibilities of an e-mail discussion list.

AFRIAMSLIC to notify of a 2004 meeting and the possibilities of network participants attending

Deadline: October 2004.

FAO to notify of the possibility for a network meeting to coincide with IAMSLIC 2005 in Rome.

Deadline: October 2004.

To re-visit the idea for a web presence for the network.

[8] United Nations. Economic and Social Council. (2003). The value of library services in development. Third meeting of the Committee on Development Information (CODI), Addis Ababa, 10-17 May 2003. E/ECA/CODI.3/16
[9] Rosenberg, D. (1993). Resource sharing - is it the answer for Africa? Afr.J.Lib.Arch. and Inf.Sci. vol. 3, no. 2, pp. 107-111.

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