2019 Annual Report


This annual report celebrates EIFL’s 20th anniversary – a very special event for many people who have been with us all these years, and who have helped to build and shape the organization.

Rima Kuprytė, Director of EIFL

In 2019 we celebrated EIFL’s 20th anniversary - a very special event for the many people who have helped to build and shape the organization over all these years. To mark this important milestone, we have assembled ‘EIFL at Glance 1999 - 2019’ with the contributions that each of our programmes has made in removing barriers to accessing and sharing knowledge.

2019 saw the continuation of a global shift in negotiations with journal publishers. Starting from 2019, all EIFL’s negotiations included not only free or discounted subscriptions to paywalled journals, but also discounts and waivers of Article Processing Charges (APCs), which are the fees authors pay to make their articles available in open access. As a result, authors from EIFL partner countries can now publish their articles in open access for free or at greatly reduced APCs in over 700 open access journals from four publishers. We expect these numbers to grow.

We are excited about a new project which started in October in Myanmar to establish a national open access repository that will collect, disseminate and preserve all research output from universities. The Myanmar Education, Research and Learning (MERAL) Portal project, in collaboration with the Department of Higher Education of the Ministry of Education, the Rectors’ Committee, and the National Institute of Informatics of Japan, builds on EIFL’s significant support for open access in Myanmar since 2015.

In 2019, while we continued to advocate with governments to join the Marrakesh Treaty for print-disabled people, we co-organized the first workshop focusing on practical steps for libraries to take to make full use of their new rights under the treaty. And during the year, two more EIFL partner countries joined the treaty - Thailand and Zimbabwe.

In 2019 we also celebrated the 10th anniversary of the EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP). We are delighted to feature in this Annual Report the great results of an EIFL-PLIP supported project in Ghana which opened the doors to further education for thousands of junior high school children by helping them to pass their ICT exams and progress to secondary school.

Thank you to everyone, past and present - our partners and funders, our board members and our committed staff - who have helped to bring us closer to achieving our vision of a world in which all people have the knowledge they need to achieve their full potential.

Our vision is a world in which all people have the knowledge they need to achieve their full potential

EIFL AT A GLANCE 1999 – 2019

EIFL has worked in 70 developing and transition economy countries. Here are some of the results of our work over 20 years.

Affordable access to e-resources

80000000 downloads of full text articles and book chapters

120 products that include e-books, journals and databases negotiated

55 publishers signed agreements

Open access to research

262000 librarians, researchers, policy-makers and open access champions trained and 1400 training events organized

1200 open access repositories

8 national and 159 institutional open access policies

Fair copyright laws

143 resources created in 14 languages to support copyright advocacy and capacity building of librarians

18 countries ratified the Marrakesh Treaty - 20% of all WIPO member states that have joined the treaty

14 countries drafted national copyright law revisions or adopted provisions that benefit libraries

Community development

1000 public librarians trained from 350 libraries that have computers and the internet in Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Namibia, Uganda and Zambia

400 public libraries introduced innovative technology-based services in 27 countries on four continents

3 countries - Ghana, Kenya and Uganda - included public libraries in national ICT roll-out programmes


Using knowledge to change their lives and the lives of others


* Dr Imad Ibrik, Palestine


* Namutenya Hamwaalwa, Namibia



“Most of the time when we want to train our librarians we have to get somebody from outside - external trainers to capacitate our librarians. But with this programme we will have experts locally.”

Public libraries in Namibia are being equipped with computers and the internet for public use. The shift has presented challenges for the Namibia Library and Archive Service (NLAS), which oversees the work of 65 public libraries and over 260 public librarians.

“Our librarians needed new skills to include technology-based information and training services,” said Namutenya Hamwaalwa, Deputy Director of NLAS.

EIFL and NLAS entered into a partnership to strengthen continuous professional development of public librarians in Namibia. In 2018/19 EIFL trained 17 librarians from the NLAS public library network to become trainers in developing modern library services that meet community information needs.

“I observed our new trainers practising with their colleagues and I can see a huge difference in their abilities. Before the training, they were too shy even to stand up in front of a group and speak. The training has built their confidence - they are conducting workshops, preparing handouts, organizing and facilitating discussions. They are strong, interactive trainers - they are different people!” said Namutenya.

The trainers have already trained 63 librarians from 44 public libraries in four workshops, on design thinking, communications, advocacy, project management and searching the internet.

Find out more about EIFL's Public Library Innovation Programme

In 2019: EIFL trained 50 public library trainers in Kenya, Namibia, Uganda and Zambia who are now training other librarians in their countries.



“The workshop helped to create a regional team with one goal - to fully implement the Marrakesh Treaty for the benefit of our users. Now we have a clear vision for the concrete steps to be taken to receive material that we need to serve our users.”

The Marrakesh Treaty gives libraries the right to convert printed works into accessible formats (such as braille, audio, large print and digital accessible formats) for print-disabled people without having to ask permission from rightsholders, and to share these works across borders. By the end of 2019, 88 countries worldwide had joined the treaty.

In September, EIFL co-organized a workshop for a group of neighbouring countries - Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Russia - that have either completed or are advancing implementation of the Marrakesh Treaty into national law. The workshop focused on practical steps for libraries to take to make full use of their new rights under the treaty.

The Lithuanian Library for the Blind (LAB) hosted the workshop.

“There are 19,000 blind and visually impaired people in Lithuania and they request material in various languages, including Russian and Polish,” said Inga Davidoniene, Director of LAB.

“Since the workshop, we have requested and received 16 publications in accessible formats from Ksiaznica Podlaska library in Poland. We agreed metadata for cataloguing with their librarians, and the transfers were made using the online file transfer service Wetransfer. The workshop gave us the practical knowledge to do this,” said Inga.

Find out more about EIFL's Copyright and Libraries Programme

In 2019: Thailand and Zimbabwe joined the Marrakesh Treaty, bringing the number of EIFL partner countries that have joined the Treaty to 16.



“The appearance of open access repositories has increased universities’ self-awareness - they are now more aware of the quantity and quality of their research output.”

David Bukenya, Deputy University Librarian at Uganda Christian University (UCU), is a passionate advocate for open access (OA) - the immediate, online, free and unrestricted availability of research literature. His university was the first in Uganda to adopt an OA policy.

In 2016 the Consortium of Uganda University Libraries (CUUL) appointed David to be EIFL Country Coordinator. David’s appointment coincided with a major project that EIFL was implementing with CUUL to increase availability and visibility of Ugandan research. The project included setting up OA repositories and drafting, discussing and adopting institutional OA policies.

“The project was very intense. We worked with 11 universities, each with a different institutional dynamic. All 11 universities now have well-functioning OA repositories that are registered with search engines, and research from our universities can be easily found on the internet. The number of documents in the repositories has quintupled, to over 23,000.

“Adoption of OA policies took longer. Nonetheless, by the end of 2019, five of the 11 universities had adopted policies. At the other six, policies are in the pipeline,” said David.

CUUL is continuing to provide on-demand support for repository managers and administrators through an online Uganda Dspace User Group.

Find out more about EIFL's Open Access Programme

In 2019: 66 new open access repositories were launched in the EIFL network.



“The new copyright law supports the delivery of online education, the creation of electronic course packs for teaching, and the provision of document delivery services by libraries, good news for learning and research in Myanmar.”

Tin Win Yee, Group Leader of the Myanmar Library Association (MLA) Legal Affairs Committee, and EIFL Copyright Coordinator in Myanmar, led library advocacy to ensure that Myanmar’s new copyright law, adopted in May 2019, would enable the development of modern, effective library services.

The Copyright Law of 2019 is one of many new laws that are being introduced as the country shifts to democracy after more than 50 years of military rule. It replaces a law enacted over a century ago, in 1914.

“We have over 5,000 libraries in Myanmar. It was essential that the new law would include appropriate limitations and exceptions to give libraries the freedom we need to support research and education, especially national priorities such as distance education,” said Tin Win Yee.

EIFL reviewed the new copyright law at the draft stages, made recommendations on library provisions, held discussions with the local library community and met with policy-makers in Myanmar.

In 2017, the MLA submitted suggestions - including EIFL’s recommendations - to Parliament when the copyright bill was being debated.

“Our advocacy was successful. Our suggestions on library provisions were included in the new copyright law,” said Tin Win Yee.

Find out more about EIFL's Copyright and Libraries Programme

In 2019: EIFL engaged in copyright law reform in 20 countries in the EIFL network.



“We are now sharing our experience of developing a national open access policy and repository with other Francophone countries in Africa.”

Dr Cecile Coulibaly coordinates the national open access repository, which is hosted by the Université Virtuelle de Côte d'Ivoire (UVCI). The main mission of the university is to enhance e-learning and digital skills in all higher education institutions in the country. Cecile is also EIFL Country Coordinator for Côte d'Ivoire.

In 2016, UVCI was mandated by the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research to set up a national open access repository, but collecting research output from universities and clearing copyright were challenges.

In 2019, EIFL delivered a series of workshops for librarians and university administrators in Côte d'Ivoire on copyright management and licensing, institutional and national open access policies, and how to collect, describe and make research openly available in the national repository.

“The EIFL workshops have sparked discussion among all public universities and created a space for collaborative development of institutional and national open access policies in Côte d'Ivoire.

“There are already over 17,500 publications openly available in the national repository. We are also upgrading repository software to enable us to provide more services to researchers and universities and next year we are planning to adopt a national open access policy,” said Cecile.

Find out more about EIFL's Open Access Programme

In 2019: Two more EIFL partner countries, Ethiopia and Serbia, adopted national open access policies.



“The discounted Article Processing Charges are encouraging researchers to submit their articles to high quality open access journals where they could not otherwise afford to publish.”

In developing countries, budgets for research are low or non-existent. This makes it difficult for researchers to publish their articles in open access (OA) journals that have Article Processing Charges (APCs).

To support researchers from these countries, EIFL negotiates with publishers for free or discounted APCs.

“We want to publish in OA journals because this is the best way to share our research widely, but with the high price of APCs we cannot afford it,” said Dr Imad Ibrik, Director of the Energy Research Centre at An-Najah National University.

“I chose to publish my article about solar power and electrification of rural areas in Palestine in the Taylor & Francis OA journal Cogent Engineering. But the APC was €1,000 - and that is a lot of money.”

In 2019, EIFL and Taylor & Francis signed an agreement that enables researchers from 37 EIFL partner countries to publish with discounted or waived APCs in over 130 fully OA journals that cover a wide range of disciplines, including the sciences, social sciences and humanities.

“I was extremely happy to receive a 50% discount, and my article has been published,” said Dr Ibrik.

“I know that my colleagues are now also applying for discounts,” he added.

Find out more about EIFL's Licensing Programme

In 2019: Authors in EIFL partner countries can publish in open access with waived or discounted APCs in 745 journals as a result of EIFL-negotiated agreements with four publishers.
“Every week, parents move their children from other schools, which are not benefitting from the mobile library project, to my school. They want their children to have this opportunity to learn about technology and pass their exams.”

- Francis Pepra Boansi, headmaster of Kwaso presbyterian junior high school in Ashanti region.



EIFL and the Ghana Library Authority work together to bring ICT classes to under resourced schools

AT A GLANCE – 2015 – 2019

From 2015 to 2019 EIFL supported a mobile library project that helped over 3,200 children attending poor and rural schools in four regions of Ghana to pass the crucial Basic Education Certificate Exam, which determines progress to secondary school.

“The hands-on computer classes helped me pass the ICT exam!” Anna, the daughter of farmers in Ghana’s Volta Region, was one of thousands of children who passed the Basic Education Certificate Exam (B.E.C.E.) as a result of a project supported by EIFL.

Failing the B.E.C.E., which is the crucial exam that determines progress to secondary school, would have been devastating. “It would have been the end of my education. I would have just been at home because to repeat the exam is expensive,” said Anna.


regions of Ghana


schools participated


children benefited


Grade 3 children who wrote the ICT exam

Children who passed ICT in the Basic Education Certificate Exam

 *  Before the project started

    Number of children who passed ICT exam

    Number of children who wrote ICT exam

ICT (Information and Communication Technology) is one of eight compulsory subjects in the B.E.C.E. However, many schools in poor and rural areas of Ghana do not have computers or internet connections. As a result, children learn ICT in the abstract. Without practical experience - sometimes without ever having seen or touched a computer - thousands of children fail every year, and are taken out of school by parents who cannot afford school uniforms and fees.

Librarians at Volta Regional Library, which is one of 10 regional libraries managed by the Ghana Library Authority (GhLA), came up with an innovative idea to improve the B.E.C.E. pass rate in their community. The regional library is based in the town of Ho, which is the administrative capital of Volta Region and the market centre for nearby villages where families farm with livestock, fish, fruit and vegetables. Their idea was to equip a mobile library with low-power laptop computers, solar panels and modem internet, and to travel to under resourced junior high schools in Ho municipality to conduct hands-on computer classes. In 2012, the EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP) awarded Volta Regional Library a small grant for a year-long pilot project to test their idea in five schools.

“The ICT classes organized for us by the mobile library service contributed so much to my success in the B.E.C.E. I wish that they acquire more computers so that more juniors can get practice, and perform better in the exams,” said Zantor, a student at Ziavi Lume Methodist Junior High School in Volta Region.

Thank you to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Global Libraries Program and our donors through GlobalGiving, for supporting our project.

Fundraising to expand the project

The pilot project was so successful that we launched a fundraising campaign for it through the online fundraising platform, GlobalGiving UK. In 2015 our campaign attracted major funding from the technology company, Nokia, enabling us to scale up the project to include mobile libraries in three more regions - Ashanti, Upper East and Western - with the potential to reach over 1,800 children in more than 20 schools annually.

Each of the three new regional libraries received 15 laptop computers and solar panels to charge them; a modem for the internet; a canopy, desks and chairs for large outdoor classes; a projector and screen, and a printer to print out notes for the children to take home. We were also able to buy more computers and additional equipment for Volta Regional Library. Working with Accra-based social enterprise, TechAIDE, we installed the equipment in the mobile libraries. TechAIDE also preloaded the laptops with content related to school subjects, like geography, mathematics, science and English, e-books, as well as practice exam questions and other useful and fun learning tools.

The three libraries consulted with their regional education offices, and identified 15 under resourced schools (five in each region) that would receive classes. Librarians from the three regions visited Volta Regional Library to learn how to prepare their mobile libraries for the classes; how to use solar power; how to download software updates and troubleshoot technical problems, and to see the hands-on computer classes in action. We organized a joint workshop for librarians and ICT teachers from the 15 selected schools at which librarians from Volta Region conducted training in how to manage large ICT classes using a limited number of laptops, how to use the pre-loaded educational content, and shared insights into teaching children ICT.

“When I heard that my school was to be one of the selected ones, that gave us great joy. This project is going to improve ICT learning. It will ease the burden of our teachers, and for the children who are struggling to comprehend computers in the abstract,” said James Tenga, headmaster of Yakoti Junior High School in Upper East Region.

Celebrations marked the launch of the hands-on computer classes in the three new regions in November 2015.

The beginning of an incredible journey

Over four years, from 2015 to 2019, the mobile libraries in Ashanti, Western, Volta and Upper East regions travelled thousands of kilometres, and conducted thousands of classes in 20 schools, reaching an average of 3,000 children a year - almost double the 1,800 they had planned to reach. They visited each school an average of three times a month during school terms, conducting two practical computer skills classes during each visit. When classes fell behind schedule, schools asked libraries to continue the classes over weekends and during school holidays - and they did.

The librarians and teachers worked with students in grades 1, 2 and 3, but paid special attention to Grade 3, the year students sit for the B.E.C.E. In each class, three to four children - sometimes more - shared a laptop. Careful management was needed to ensure that everyone had a turn to use the keyboard and mouse and to go online.

Along the way, there were challenges. The roads were bumpy, rutted and occasionally flooded. Sometimes the mobile libraries broke down. Early in 2019, GhLA recalled all the vans for refurbishment.

“Some parents and schools offered to pay for the services of a taxi to bring the laptops and the internet. Sometimes the librarians used their own cars, or another library vehicle. Some schools came to the library during free periods and over weekends so they would not miss classes when we couldn’t come,” said Yaa Agyemang Opare-Adu, Head of Programmes and Partnerships at the GhLA.

Often, electricity at the schools was not working, and so the librarians and teachers were thankful to have the solar panels. When internet connections were poor, the preloaded educational material came in handy. The librarians found different ways of using the laptops - for example, Volta Regional Library included 30-minute sessions in which children read aloud from the laptops to improve their English comprehension skills so that they would better understand the B.E.C.E. questions.

Excitement about the exam results

Every year in June Grade 3 students sat for the B.E.C.E. This was a huge moment for the students - but also for EIFL and the regional libraries, because the exam results were also a test of the effectiveness of the hands-on computer classes. So every year, we joined the students in their anxious wait for exam results.

When they came, they were remarkable. Year on year, there was a dramatic increase in the pass rate in the ICT exam in the schools where the mobile libraries offered classes. In 2014/15, before the expanded project started, the average pass rate in the subject ICT at B.E.C.E. level in the selected schools was just 45%. In 2016, it increased to 65%; in 2017 to 81%; in 2018 it was 85% and in 2019 it was 84%.

“I can proudly say that in 2018 ICT was the subject with the highest grades in the B.E.C.E. The project has transformed the children to become computer literates!” said Veronica McCarthy, the Head Teacher at Aboadze Catholic Junior High School in Western Region.

“When we can practise, the examination becomes very easy because we always remember what we practise! The library’s classes have also helped us students to do online research - and to acquire more information about what we are taught in class,” said Mary, a student from Western Region.

Cliff from Ashanti Region, achieved a Grade 1 pass for his ICT exam in 2018. He is now a student at Adu Gyamfi Senior High School, where he is concentrating on the subject General Science - his dream is to become a medical doctor. Cliff’s family cannot afford a home computer, and the hands-on computer classes have had a great impact on his life. During the gap between basic school and secondary school, he was able to get a job at an internet café. “I could be productive in my holidays, help others - and earn some money,” he said.

A nation-wide service is born

Evidence of the impact of the project, collected by the four regional libraries, and advocacy by GhLA, convinced the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC), a government agency, to equip the remaining six mobile regional libraries operated by the GhLA with laptop computers. GIFEC’s support makes it possible for the GhLA to transform the project into a sustainable service that will be offered in 10 regions: the four regions that took part in the EIFL project - Ashanti, Upper East, Volta and Western - and six more, Brong-Ahafo, Central, Eastern, Greater Accra, Northern and Upper West. From early 2020, 10 ICT-equipped mobile libraries will go on the road.

“EIFL has helped to build the foundation for extension of practical computer skills classes in under resourced schools across our country. We could not have achieved this without you. Thank you!” said Hayford Siaw, Chief Executive Officer of the GhLA.


EIFL income and expenditure 2019

    Programme income 3,578,815 80.5%
    Participation fees 372,891 8.4%
    General Support 390,743 8.8%
    Sponsorship, interest and other income 102,098 2.3%
Total 4,444,547
    Programme delivery 1,011,555 86.9%
    Personnel & contracted expenses 111,880 9.6%
    Operating expenses 40,772 3.5%
Total 1,164,207
    Committed expenditure for 2020 to 2023 programme delivery 3,265,869
    Continuity reserve 314,375


We would like to thank the following organizations and individuals for their generous support for our work in 2019.

  • Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
  • European Commission Horizon 2020 Programme
  • Faculty of Information, University of Toronto
  • International Commission of Jurists and the Danish Institute for Human Rights in Joint Venture (ICJ/DIHR)
  • Luxembourg Development Cooperation Agency (LuxDev)
  • Open Society Foundations
  • Spider, The Swedish Program for ICT in Developing Regions

In 2019, we conducted a fundraising campaign through GlobalGiving. Our ‘Hands-on computer classes for 1,800 Ghana children’ campaign raised over $880.


EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries) is an international not-for-profit organization that works with libraries in developing and transition countries to enable access to knowledge for education, learning, research and sustainable community development.


EIFL works in collaboration with libraries in 53 developing and transition countries.


Meet our Staff, Management Board and Network.


EIFL has built relationships with a wide range of organizations to make knowledge more accessible. See the list of partners we worked with in 2019.


In 2019, EIFL organized, supported or took part in 113 events, workshops and conferences about issues that affect access to knowledge.


  • Top, background image: Participants in the EIFL Initiative for Young African Library Innovators visiting Mata Aksara Community Library in Indonesia

  • Vision, background image: Training at Martynas Mažvydas National Library of Lithuania. Photo: Davidas Podvolskis

  • Meet the people, background image: Meeting of the EIFL network during the General Assembly held in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, 8 –10 August 2019

  • Ghana report, background image: Excited children greet the mobile library. Photo: Volta Regional Library

  • Financial report, background image: Zagreb City Libraries in Croatia trains people living in homeless shelters to use computers and the internet to look for jobs online. Photo: Vlado Cvirn for EIFL

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