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In 2011, three EIFL partner consortia will celebrate their first ten years. First up in January is Electronic Resources for Moldova - Resurse Electronice pentru Moldova (REM). In October, the Serbian Library Consortium for Coordinated Acquisition, known as KoBSON, will reach its tenth year, followed in December by the Lithuanian Research Library Consortium (LMBA).
“KoBSON exists for the community. Librarianship is not a science, it’s a service”. Biljana Kosanovic
A library consortium is a group of libraries that share common goals. Library consortia can speak with one voice to policy makers and funders - to advocate for libraries - and can share resources and activities – to build capacity and expand access for users. Consortia can comprise library types e.g. university or public libraries, can focus on particular subject areas or they can serve a region or a whole country. They have become a major force in the purchase of electronic resources from commercial vendors, especially in negotiating licensing terms and conditions and influencing pricing models; consolidating technical services such as union catalogues and collaborating on digitisation projects; undertaking professional development and training; advocating for libraries and library funding.
EIFL’s unique approach is to partner with libraries organised in national library consortia in developing and transition countries, thereby effectively reaching millions of users. EIFL provides training, advice, consultancy, and resources for consortium management to assist in building sustainable consortia, as well as a range of programmes in leading-edge information issues. EIFL now works with consortia in more than 45 countries - from Albania to Zimbabwe - many of whom received start-up grants to establish the consortium and expand access to electronic resources in support of science, research and education. Three former grantees are celebrating their tenth anniversaries in 2011, and can look back with pride on a decade that has seen the transformation of library services in societies that have experienced dramatic change.
Twenty years after independence, Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe. With a top ten world ranking for expenditure on education, however, Moldova is investing in the future. Libraries in Moldova have a key role underpinning the delivery of information services for education and learning. REM is delivering to its members – currently 16 libraries – core services such as access to international online resources, and also places emphasis on emerging information policy issues, so that the Moldovan library community is at the top of its game, able to contribute to debates and discussions at international level. Over the last decade, over 35 seminars have built local expertise on the development of information technologies in libraries, open access and copyright. Thanks to the advocacy of the library community, a new copyright law in 2011 contains favourable provisions that will support libraries in their work over the coming years.
When libraries in Lithuania first became involved with EIFL in 1999, subscriptions to foreign print journals were rare. Today the Lithuanian Research Library Consortium (LMBA) offers access to over 37,000 e-journals and 67,000 e-books in 60 databases, which means that students and researchers in the small Baltic state have access to the world’s top scholarly resources.
“Our membership has doubled and all research and public libraries in Lithuania are now using e-resources”, says Aušra Vaškevičienė, EIFL country coordinator. “Very importantly, our voice is heard not only within the universities, but at governmental level as well. We have become a trusted stakeholder and in 2009 were invited to lead an eight million Euro project, co-funded by the EU, to increase the information competences of Lithuania researchers and scientists”. LMBA is also a powerful advocate, and worked for the adoption of a new law in 2009 requiring online access to publicly-funded research.
Ten years ago, the western Balkans were emerging from an era of disintegration and conflict. Integrating the new nations into the international knowledge-based society was a priority for the region. KoBSON, the Serbian Library Consortium for Coordinated Acquisition, can truly be said to have contributed towards this goal by increasing the visibility of Serbian science, both nationally and internationally. “Our single biggest achievement is that twenty Serbian journals are newly indexed by Thomson Reuters Web of Science, the leading citation reference index, connecting Serbian research to global scientific publishing”, says Biljana Kosanovic, EIFL country coordinator.
This happened because KoBSON took the initiative to create Digital Object Identifiers – an international standard for identifying content in the digital environment – for locally published journals. KoBSON resources are also fully integrated with Google Scholar, boosting the worldwide visibility of Serbian research and encouraging usage of international literature in Serbia. As a result, researchers recognise that libraries are an important part of the modern information infrastructure, and can provide many value-added services to help promote their work.
Join us in congratulating REM, LMBA and KoBSON on their tenth birthdays, and we wish them many more decades to come! EIFL and its partner consortia are most grateful to the Open Society Foundations, for their long-standing commitment to libraries.