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60th IFLA General Conference - Conference Proceedings - August 21-27, 1994

Which institutions are supporting librarianship in the developing countries?

Birgitta Mossadek
Research Librarian, UPPSALA University Library, Sweden


This project to create a database/guide of institutions supporting librarianship in developing countries has been undertaken in order to meet the demand for information about funding organizations within this specific area. The guide will contain information about institutions and agencies which support librarianship in a wider scope in developing countries, their geographical and action areas, their principles and criteria for granting funds. The study concentrates on the agencies in the Nordic countries, other countries with major cooperation programmes in the cultural and information fields (USA, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Great Britain and The Netherlands) and inter-governmental and international organizations. Spin-off this project is a valuable document collection and new contracts for IFLA and the producing of a publication on the sources of information.



What is ALP and what are we doing

The IFLA/ALP (Advancement of Librarianship in the Third World) Programme is a development programme. Unlike IFLA's four other core programmes, it covers the entire spectrum of IFLA's activities and is therefore by nature a transverse programme. But it also has a programme identity of its own, which is concentrated on issues that are of great importance to the Third World, but which do not fall wi thin the area of responsibility of the other core programmes. The most important special ALP programme areas are:

Within the three special programme areas of ALP the goals are: Like the other core programmes, ALP has an office, an "international focal point", situated at Uppsala University Library in Sweden. It is entirely funded by Nordic library associations and institutions. We are working closely with the IFLA Division of Regional Activities and representatives from its three sections (Africa, Asia & Oceania and Latin America and the Caribbean) form the advisory body for the ALP Programme. Other important corner stones are the three Regional Offices, which are in Dakar, Senegal, Bangkok, Thailand and in Sao Paulo in Brazil. ALP thus coordinates the activities, acts as a centre of expertise and engages in fund raising.

One of IFLA/ALP's main tasks is fund raising. When we receive a project proposal and it is accepted, then the work to find money to finance it starts. Of course we have our usual channels but it is not enough. In these days when resources are becoming scarcer and scarcer it is not easy to find funding for all useful and interesting project proposals. We have to try every possible way, find the ri ght donor for the right project, try again and again and don't give up. With well formulated project proposals we usually get funding for a great part of the projects. And they are indeed needed to prevent, or try to prevent, the gap between North and South from becoming bigger and bigger. Carol Priestley says in her evaluation of the SAREC (Swedish Agency for Research Cooperation with developing countries) Library Support Programme,* that in most developing countries the availability of books and professional journals is considerably worse than it was twenty years ago, and that staff training and scholarships must be given high priority.

We also receive requests from many organisations asking for information on funding authorities, their policies and so on. So this project is not only for IFLA/ALP but for the whole IFLA organisation, regional offices and other related organisations--UNESCO, for example. We are also collecting information in printed form about library development in Third World countries, so we are building a good source of information so that people and organisations dealing with these questions can get answers about what has already been done, where, did it work out well, who gave financial support etc. In this way the available money can be used better.


Already in 1990 at the IFLA General Conference in Stockholm it was proposed as one of the future tasks for the ALP Focal Point to create a database containing information about institutions and agencies which support librarianship in developing countries, their geographical and action areas and their principles and criteria for supporting different programmes, and the Executive Board of IFLA deci ded in October 1991 that this would be one of our tasks. As soon as we had the opportunity to engage a programme officer on part time, Eve Johansson, she made a feasibility study which was discussed at the ALP Funding and Liaison Committee meeting on 26 March 1992. There was general interest in the idea of a published guide to sources of information as a product of the study, and support in princ iple for the value of a project. It was agreed that the proposal outlined, slightly amended, should be sent to the IFLA Professional Coordinator for information and comment, and to the Professional Board.

An informal meeting of important donors from Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden and other donor countries in September 1992 in Oslo discussed a study of issues and options for a more coordinated support to documentation, scientific information and libraries in the Third World countries. This group has now started a study of the information flow North South with analyses and case studies and there w ill also be a financing study. Sandra Volbida at the DST/SO in The Hague is in charge.

In April 1993 we received funding from DANIDA (Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Denmark) for our project. It was suggested that we should cooperate/be in touch with the above donor group study and FID (International Federation for Information and Documentation) Education and Training Clearing House in Copenhagen to avoid duplicating effort and so that this project could be used by related studies t oo. As a start our study is concentrating on the agencies in the Nordic countries, other countries with major cooperation programmes in the cultural and information fields (USA, Australia, France Germany, the Netherlands and Japan) and inter governmental and non governmental international institutions. The first product will be a printed guide and later on a database.


The first step was to establish what information was already available. We have information brochures and other documentation from many of our usual funders, not all up to date. There are also some directories.

We started by preparing a questionnaire and asking ourselves what information do we want in the guide/database? If the questionnaire was to be too extensive, perhaps people would find it too trying to fill in. Most people are overloaded with work and, as somebody said, they receive so many questionnaires to fill in that it is easy to put them away and forget them. So it had to be not too extensiv e but still to cover the essentials.

What do we want to know?


I decided to send the questionnaire to our main funders and to IFLA Headquarters and FID/ET as a test. I asked them for reactions: was it hard to understand or not clear enough? Was it too long or was something missing? In this way I got some good suggestions and it was ready to send out.

The next step was to find addresses of possible funders. I started with our files as we are working regularly with a number of organisations. After that it was to go through the directories we have at the IFLA/ALP office and in the Uppsala University Library. There were some but not so many. In these directories there are many different organisations so you have to go through them to find the re levant ones. In some there were indexes so then it was easier.

At the same time as collecting information I thought it was better to send out the questionnaire to the addresses found so far. In this way I have received useful help and information to find more funding organisations from persons working in this field and also help in distributing the questionnaire further to other funding bodies. So, like unwinding a ball of wool, information was to be found i n this way too. There are different kinds of organisations that give support official aid organisations, non governmental organisations, charities, professional bodies, etc.

Another way of finding funders was to read conference reports and articles about conferences. Sometimes it was mentioned who had funded the event. I have also had consultations with some key institutions such as SIDA (The Swedish International and Development Authority) and DANIDA. As they are our main funders we thought it suitable to make an in depth study of how they work and which projects they have been involved in lately. SIDA, for example, has supported the ALP series of Workshops on microcomputer applications, the Thai Lao project o n books for young children, the Creation of an association of schools of librarianship in the South Cone countries and many more.

There were also searches in databases to be done.

What software is to be used and why?

There is also the question of which software we have to use if and when it is decided that there will be a database. At first we thought that CDS/ISIS would be perfect, since it is widely used in the developing countries and not expensive, but now I am not sure. After having read about INASP's (The International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications) database and talked to Carol Priestley* I do think that the software, FOX PRO, which they are using is the best. It is easy to use by anyone and we can send floppy discs to other interested bodies without their needing to have the software. It has a unique interface which makes it possible to match requests with potentially interested donors.

The future of the database

There will be regional cooperation. We hope for a database in each region and possibly a clearing house. IBICT (Instituto Brasileiro de Informacao em Ciencia e Tecnologia) in Brazil have already showed interest in this. They are already involved in similar activities. V There is also the ALP model workshop to identify and assess needs in South East Asia and to formulate project proposals and financing, with a good piece of information and an excellent preliminary list of available funding resources, compiled for this workshop by Thammasat University Libraries. The rest of the library world also expects something concrete and useful and we are planning a series o f seminars like the "Bangkok model". The UNESCO PGI office in Caracas, Venezuela will probably help us to translate the workshop manual into Spanish, to be used in cooperation with UNESCO in Latin America and the Caribbean.

We hope that our project will be finished at the end of the year and that the printed guide will be published at the beginning of next year. We are happy to make this information widely a available and we also plan to keep it up to date. As to the database, we don't know yet: it is up to the future, but we really hope to develop one. We think that it would be very useful for many organisations i n all regions. Finally, I would be happy to receive information and views about what is needed from those present at this meeting.


* Priestley, Carol SAREC Library Support Programme. Evaluations 1993:1