09.06.2008 -

eIFL success story wins UNESCO Information for All Programme award

"Open Source Software brings a new lease of life to libraries in Palestine" is one of five success stories which won UNESCO's Information for All Programme (IFAP) award. Submitted by the Electronic Information for Libraries (eIFL), this award winning story illustrates how a few old computers, some free open source software and a little knowledge made a difference in the main library of a Palestine university.

The UNESCO Information for All Programme (IFAP) recently invited UNESCO Member States, NGOs and professional groups to share their stories and good practices in using information for development in all parts of the world. The stories collected provide practical examples to inspire others and raise the visibility of the critically important role that information plays in development. eIFL.net submitted stories from its "Spotlight" series, which highlights achievements of eIFL members, and the users of their library services, in developing and transition countries.


"We are delighted that an eIFL story was one of the five stories selected by the Bureau of the Information for All Programme", said Rima Kupryte, Director of eIFL.net. "We are keenly aware of the value of information for development and the pivotal role of modern library services. This story is a prime example of how eIFL's vibrant knowledge sharing network empowers member library consortia in developing and transition countries to improve access to electronic resources for faculty and students".


The eIFL award winning story illustrates how a few old computers, some freely available open source software and a little knowledge was all that it took to create a high-speed network that pleased staff and astonished students in the Main Library at Birzeit University in Palestine's West Bank. "These stories describe the innovative ways in which people and communities are using information to address issues that affect them directly," said Miriam Nisbet, the Secretary of the Information for All Programme. "They provide good examples from which others can learn and either replicate or adapt them to their own local situations." As an incentive, each of the five stories will receive $5,000 project funding support from UNESCO IFAP, upon submission of a project proposal linked to the story.


"We are honoured that UNESCO chose to highlight our achievement, which we are proud to share with the rest of the world," said Diana Sayej-Nasser, eIFL coordinator for Palestine West Bank. "The library has really benefited from the new high-speed network and the students have ten more computers with access to the Internet, online databases, the library catalogue and Ritaj, the university's academic web portal."


"Free and open source software solutions like the one used in this project are great multipliers", added Randy Metcalfe, eIFL-FOSS Programme Manager. "They combine cost savings on software license fees with extended useful-life of near-obsolete IT hardware, but most important of all is how they help build local skills and expertise that can be used again and again."


eIFL.net is an international foundation, which supports national library consortia in more than forty-five transition and developing countries to negotiate and advocate for the wide availability of electronic resources to education, research and professional communities as well as governmental organisations and civil society. This global network embraces millions of users in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, the former Soviet Union and the Middle East.

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