eLibrary Myanmar - exciting new EIFL project to increase access to knowledge

Published: 
15 Jan 2014

Access to knowledge in Myanmar has taken a big leap forward as a result of an important new project, eLibrary Myanmar, which started in January 2014 and which is being implemented by EIFL. 

eLibrary Myanmar Working Group Meeting at the University of Yangon, December 2013. (Front row left to right) Professor Dr Tin Tun (Former Rector, University of Yangon), Oleksandr Shtokvych (Senior Manager, Open Society Foundations' Higher Education Support Program), Rima Kupryte (Director, EIFL)

“For the first time, academics and students have online access to a comprehensive and multi-disciplinary collection of scholarly resources.

Extensive training is also being provided to ensure that benefits to teaching, learning and research are maximized,” says Rima Kupryte, Director of EIFL.

“There have already been a number of exciting recent developments in higher education, and EIFL is delighted to have the opportunity to support the efforts of university librarians and academic staff in improving education and research in the years to come.”

The eLibrary Myanmar project is funded by the Open Society Foundations’ Higher Education Support Program and has the support of the Ministry of Education in Myanmar.

New opportunities for education and research

High quality education and research – and thereby social and economic development – requires that academics and students have timely access to the best international scholarship in their field. It is also essential for users to be aware of what’s available, and to be equipped with the skills necessary to make the best use of the content.

Through the eLibrary Myanmar project, academics and students - initially at the University of Mandalay and the University of Yangon but, from November 2014, also the University of Dagon - are benefitting from direct access to a comprehensive range of high quality e-resources (including journals, books, and reference information) from leading international publishers.

An intensive training programme is also underway to ensure that awareness and usage is maximized, and that e-resources are embedded in teaching and learning, in order to improve research excellence, output and dissemination in the longer term.

“The Myanmar government has set forth an ambitious plan for revitalizing the country's higher education,” says Oleksandr Shtokvych, Senior Manager at the Open Society Foundations’ Higher Education Support Program.

“Bringing iconic universities, such as the University of Yangon and the University of Mandalay, to life, will not only mean helping their communities gain access to the most current thinking, inspiring scholarship and novel resources,” he continues.

It will also mean including their students and scholars as active participants in the production of new knowledge and critical thinking, and bringing the unique and rich legacy and current developments in Myanmar into the limelight of international scholarship."

"These are the connected goals we hope our eLibrary Myanmar project can achieve with EIFL's able leadership and resources.

"Access to e-resources is essential to scholars and students at the University of Yangon,” says Professor Dr Tin Tun, Former Rector of the University of Yangon. “For fulfilling this need, we would like to extend our deepest appreciation to the Open Society Foundations and EIFL.”

A phased approach

Dr Saw Pyone Naing, Former Acting Rector at the University of Mandalay, shows the library's new ICT facilities to EIFL-Licensing Programme Manager Susanna Lob and EIFL Director Rima Kupryte.

During the initial 18-month project term which started in December 2014, EIFL will focus on helping librarians and academic staff at the University of Yangon and the University of Mandalay (and, from November 2014, the University of Dagon) to provide effective support for education and research across programmes and departments.

"Through the support of the Open Society Foundations, our library system will be more efficient. Students and researchers from the University of Mandalay will have fast access to the information they need from around the world, and this will have major benefits for research, learning and teaching,” says Dr Saw Pyone Naing, Former Acting Rector at the University of Mandalay.

Opportunities to roll out the project and to improve access to knowledge more widely across universities in Myanmar will also be explored as part of the first phase. 

For example, the EIFL-IP programme will follow legal developments so that the copyright law supports education and research, and maximizes access to knowledge through libraries. In addition, the EIFL-OA programme will explore ways of making local research visible online.

Excellent timing

The timing for the project could not be better. Education is one of Myanmar’s main development priorities, and the pace of change and opportunities ahead are very exciting. Major educational reforms are already underway and important new international partnerships have been formed – for example:

  • In December 2013, the University of Yangon and the University of Mandalay admitted undergraduates for the first time since the student uprisings of 1996. The new undergraduates consist of those who have received the highest grades in their matriculation exams, and these outstanding students will also be able to live on campus.
  • Following a new national education law, the University of Yangon and the University of Mandalay will receive “autonomous” status which means that they will have authority over their curricula and administrative decisions for the first time in more than half a century.
  • The Open Society Foundations Higher Education Support Programme is actively working with the University of Yangon and the University of Mandalay on a range of curriculum development initiatives, including training programmes and overseas study visits.
  • Licences have been granted to two foreign mobile companies - part of the government’s pledge to have 80% wireless coverage in Myanmar by 2015.
  • The University of Yangon and the University of Mandalay have joined ASEAN University Network.

Access to e-resources is just the start

Through the EIFL-Licensing Programme, we have negotiated access to a wide range of high quality e-resources on behalf of the University of Mandalay and the University of Yangon (and, from November 2014, the University of Dagon).

But this is just the start. Building awareness and skills will be essential to the success of the eLibrary Myanmar project.

Librarians, academics and students are being trained in many areas (including information literacy and research skills) through on-site presentations and demonstrations plus overseas study tours and curriculum development programmes as appropriate, and one of our key objectives is to ensure that e-resources are embedded in teaching and learning.

"For our research and teaching, we need to read many references, journals and articles which are only available online by subscription. As we haven’t had any subscriptions, it has been impossible for us to get access to such e-resources,” says Dr Aye Thandar Htay, Assistant Lecturer in the Physics Department at the University of Mandalay.

“The eLibrary Myanmar project is therefore vital to researchers, teaching staff and students at our university."


Technology is improving

To facilitate usage of e-resources, universities need to provide appropriate technological infrastructure and bandwidth.

Although technology is outside the direct scope of the eLibrary Myanmar project, it has already provided impetus for change.

For example, for the first time, the University of Yangon, the University of Mandalay and the University of Dagon have secured unique and static IP addresses which are required for access to commercial e-resources. Fibre optic lines have been installed at the universities, and bandwidth has increased considerably.

Planning for growth and sustainability

The idea of building a library consortium was discussed with librarians and key stakeholders at the eLibrary Myanmar Working Group Meeting in December 2013.

During the first phase of the eLibrary Myanmar project, we will also assess opportunities to share knowledge and expertise such that access to information is improved more generally in Myanmar – initially across the 46 universities that are under the control of the Ministry of Education, and subsequently across all universities in the country.

We will also encourage librarians to work together in a library consortium in order to secure affordable and sustainable access to e-resources in the longer term.

Participating publishers 

The following publishers are already participating in the eLibrary Myanmar project:
 
BioOne • Cambridge University Press • Credo Reference • EBSCO Publishing • Edward Elgar Publishing • HeinOnline • Institute of Physics Publishing • Intellect • International Monetary Fund Publications • JSTOR • Justis Publishing • Nature Publishing Group • Oxford University Press • Royal Society Publishing • Royal Society of Chemistry • SAGE Publications • Taylor & Francis

Other publishers interested in making their content available through the EIFL eLIbrary Myanmar project should contact Susanna Lob at susanna.lob [at] eifl.net.

What's in the eLibrary?

A wide range of high quality international e-resources is now available to faculty and students at the University of Mandalay and the University of Yangon (please see below).
 
We have also licensed the EBSCO Discovery Service to enable users to cross-search content from multiple e-resources via a single interface.
 
Journal and e-book collections

Multidisciplinary: Cambridge Journals Online • EBSCO Academic eBook Subscription Collection • Edward Elgar Books (Law and Development Studies) • Edward Elgar Journals • Intellect Journals Collection • JSTOR • Oxford Handbooks Online • Oxford Journals Collection • Oxford Scholarship Online • Taylor & Francis Online Journal Library

Science: BioOne • IOPscience • Nature Publishing Group Journals • Royal Society of Chemistry eBooks • Royal Society of Chemistry Journals Archive • Royal Society of Chemistry Gold • Royal Society Journals Collection
 
Databases

Multidisciplinary: EBSCO Academic Search Premier

Business and Economics: EBSCO Business Source Premier • IMF eLibrary

Education: ERIC (Education Resource Information Center)

Law:  HeinOnline • Investment Claims • NEW! JustCite • NEW! Justis • Max Planck Encyclopedia of Public International Law • Oxford Constitutions of the World • Oxford Reports on International Law • Oxford Scholarly Authorities on International Law

Research Methods: SAGE Research Methods, NEW! SAGE Research Methods Cases

General Reference

Credo Online Reference • Oxford English Dictionary Online • Oxford Quick Reference

Newspapers

EBSCO Newspaper Source

ABOUT EIFL 

EIFL is an international not-for-profit organization based in Europe with a global network of partners. We work with libraries around the world to enable sustainable access to high quality digital information for people
in developing and transition countries.

Established in 1999, EIFL began by advocating for affordable access to commercial e-journals for academic and research libraries in Central and Eastern Europe.

Today, EIFL partners with libraries and library consortia in more than 45 developing and transition countries in Africa, Asia and Europe. Our work has also expanded to include other programmes designed to enable access to knowledge for education, learning, research and sustainable community development.

ABOUT THE EIFL-LICENSING PROGRAMME

Through the EIFL Licensing programme, we have negotiated affordable access to over 65 commercial e-resources from more than 30 vendors. Resources include e-journals, e-books, reference works and aggregated databases covering a broad range of subject areas.

In 2013, we achieved estimated savings of more than US$183 million for libraries in our network – an average discount of over 98%.

We also work with libraries to promote awareness and usage of e-resources and, in 2013, there were more than 3.7 million full text downloads from EIFL-licensed resources.