“Librarians Without Borders®” Trains Librarians in Africa, Asia and Latin America

Providing Critical Online Research Skills Training

The Medical Library Association/Librarians Without Borders® (LWB) and Elsevier first teamed up in 2007 with the launch of the “E-Library Training Initiative” to provide critical online research skills training to librarians, researchers and health professionals in Africa, Asia and Latin America. An initial seed grant of $80,000 from Elsevier was followed by a $35,000 Elsevier Foundation Innovative Libraries in Developing Countries grant in 2007 and a $72,000 grant in 2009.

Since launch, the LWB program has equipped hundreds of information professionals and researchers in dozens of developing countries with the necessary skills to exploit the electronic resources available through the three Research4Life initiatives: HINARI, OARE and AGORA. Combined with over 35 onsite training workshops since 2007 and access via online distance learning courses, the materials developed through the E-Library Training Initiative have enabled universities and research institutes in the world’s poorest countries to continue boosting scientific scholarship. Participating partners for these workshops and online courses include the Information, Training and Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA), World Health Organization, WHO Western Pacific Region, and the Pan American Health Organization.

According to Lenny Rhine, coordinator of the E-Library Training Initiative, “To effectively utilize the Internet in developing countries as a tool to access current health, agriculture or environment research, users need legal access to information, sufficient hardware and bandwidth, and training to identify, filter and use the e-resources. Via the Research4Life program and these training initiative, two key variables to facilitate the optimal use of Internet-based resources are being put in place.”

As Ahmed Manjang of the Medical Research Council in Gambia noted to Lenny after attending one of his workshops in 2008, “Attending your HINARI and authorship course was a great experience and the effect it has on my academic life is immense. I used to struggle digging out relevant and recent articles but not anymore and you know what I just cannot stopping searching… Please tell HINARI the only way this very important tool can be use to maximum is training people, before this training I found it very difficult to find my way. Thank your once again for empowering me and my colleagues.”