INASP Report

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INASP Report

STIMULATE INASP Workshop: Accessing Information in Developing Countries UC Case Study

    International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications

    Case Study

    Accessing Information in Developing Countries Workshop

    University of Colombo, Sri Lanka

    1.1 The University Library

    The University of Colombo library system consists of the Central Library and three faculty libraries.

    The Central Library is situated in a five storied building which contains books, periodicals and

    electronic information resources in Humanities, Education, Law, Management, and Social Sciences.

    The Law Library collection occupies the whole of second floor of the Central Library. Textbooks,

    periodicals, law reports etc. are included in the collection. All the library materials in this collection are

    treated as reference materials and only law students are allowed to borrow textbooks for overnight

    and weekend reading. The library of the Medical College was founded in 1870, the same year that the

    Medical Faculty was inaugurated. The library is second oldest medical library in Asia. The Medical

    Library is the focal point of the Health Literature Libraries and Information Services Network (HELLIS)

    and privileged as the WHO depository library in the country. The Medical Library and the Science

    Library consist of a Permanent Reference Section, Reference Section, Reading Room, Lending

    Section, Periodicals Section and Computer Room.

    The University has around 380 academic staff, 560 administrative staff and 8,000 students.

    The Central Library together with the faculty libraries contain approximately 400,000 books, bound

    periodicals and reports. The library also adds 5,000 to 6,000 materials to its stock every year. The

    library has also received depository status recently from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for its

    publications and communications.

    It is worth of mentioning that the University of Colombo Library has acquired university-wide access to

    several large on-line full-text electronic databases through International Network for the Availability of

    Scientific Publications (INASP) with the financial assistance of Sida/SAREC. Several thousands of

    peer reviewed full text periodicals are available for the use of university academics and researchers.

    The University of Colombo Library has already in progress the development of Sri Lankan Journals

    Online (SLJOL), a project to disseminate research done in Sri Lanka.

    The IT infrastructure is outlined below.

    Library Web Server File Server Database Server Terminals

    Main 1 1 1 30

    Science 1 25

    Medical 1 25

    Faculties ?1000

    The computers are linked by the University of Colombo Campus Wide Area Network via a leased line

    Internet connection through the Lanka Educational Academic Research Network (LEARN). The costs

    are met centrally by government funds allocated to the University of Colombo.

    Copyright INASP see: for more details.

    STIMULATE INASP Workshop: Accessing Information in Developing Countries UC Case Study 1.2 How electronic resources are purchased by the library

    The Sida Library Support Programme has for a number of years provided Sri Lankan university

    libraries with scientific journals. The support is now taking a new turn, towards subscription to online

    databases. Activities are in collaboration with the British-based organization International Network for

    the Availability of Scientific Publications (INASP). Access to fresh international research results as

    presented in international scientific journals, is a prerequisite for meaningful research endeavour.

    Sida’s support can be seen as assistance in the provision of access to important scientific and

    research electronic information resources, and an opportunity to make research done in Sri Lanka

    available to the world.

    INASP has negotiated countrywide licenses for 2005 for full text e-information with access to over

    5000 full text online journals in science, technology, medicine, social sciences and humanities. The

    beneficiaries from this endeavour are not only the academics from all universities in Sri Lanka, but

    also people from the other higher educational, research and non-profit making institutions. User

    names and passwords have been assigned to the latter. The advantage of the online databases of full

    text articles is that they reach more users in the Sri Lanka academic system and the supply of

    accessible journals has been increased by several orders of magnitude. INASP also conducts training

    workshops, and provides guidance and support to design and implement the SLJOL project.

    The University of Colombo library had also negotiated with JSTOR and Ford Foundation to gain

    access to the very popular online database called JSTOR, which provides access to back files of

    journals. It is particularly popular among the researchers, students and teachers of the university

    specially those who are in the field of humanities and social sciences. The Ford Foundation sponsors

    this online database and also Hein Online.

    1.3 Cost of e-resources

    The costs associated with the e-resources mentioned below is for countrywide access. Therefore

    each and every institution in Sri Lanka does not need to pay money individually.

    1.3.1 2005 Subscriptions

    Resource Cost Sub total Current Awareness Services

    British Library Inside Web ?110 Sub total ?110 Full-text Electronic Journals

    Blackwell Publishing ?14,610 EBSCO Publishing ?24,309 John Wiley & Sons (InterScience) ?38,674 Sub total ?77,593 TOTAL ?77,703

* All fees include 10% administrative charges of INASP

    Copyright INASP see: for more details.

STIMULATE INASP Workshop: Accessing Information in Developing Countries UC Case Study

    1.4 Cost of infrastructure to support e-resources


    The library staff of the University of Colombo consists of senior level librarians with a sound knowledge of ICT. In addition there is an Instructor in Computer Technology who is a science graduate with computer science as a subject for his degree. The Computer Application Assistant in the library has a thorough knowledge in ICT. Taking into consideration the other staff, especially those who are in clerical and allied grades, computer competence is also in a reasonably good level. Under these circumstances the workload in relation to e-resources is managed by the said staff and a full time administrator who is attached to the SLJOL project. Therefore no extra expenses for manpower are incurred. Training

    We have conducted several training programmes on the use of electronic resources for teaching and learning and research for students and staff both academic and non-academic. The above mentioned professionals in the University of Colombo Library carried out these training programmes free of charge as funds have not been allocated for such kind of activity. The costs associated with the training programme with regard to infrastructure facilities/refreshments were borne by the University of Colombo. In addition to the training sessions conducted in the University of Colombo itself, the resources personnel in the library deliver lectures on e-information resources and access for other training workshops conducted by various non-profit making organisations.


    Since we have a separate web server for merging web based information resources it is not necessary to have another web server or any other equipment to carry out the work in connection to e-journals.

    No additional infrastructure is required for providing facilities to access e-journals because the members of the library as well as the academic staff attached to the departments are provided with passwords or user names to access particular e-journals even from their place of residence. Therefore no costs are involved for such work.

    However JSTOR and Hein Online databases have been set to proxy IP addresses and the patrons of the library can directly access these without going through the usernames and passwords. Nevertheless, some users prefer to have usernames and passwords for the reason that they want to access to these databases at their home since the access to Internet from the university is pretty slow because of the bandwidth problems. Therefore they prefer to use Blackwell, EBSCO and Wiley InterScience databases because that they can use usernames and passwords for these. Paper

    The cost of paper is not very high, as paper is needed only when a notice or leaflet has to be prepared to educate or notify the users. The cost of paper can be estimated below ?100 per year. Computers

    At the moment the computers available in the Central Library and in the faculties of the university are used to access e-journals. However, it is desirable if we could have in the library an additional 20 computers for e-journal access only due to the high demand in accessing e-journals. The Central Library has introduced a Computer Lounge, which is very specifically dedicated for students and staff who particularly need to access electronic information for their work. The demand for using the laboratory is extremely high and the library expects there will be a need to expand it soon to cater for the hundreds of users.

    1.5 Any other issues

    The time period taken to register, process and obtain delivery of some e-journals is at least two weeks. This time period is rather too long and it would be preferred if action could be taken to reduce the time period to a maximum of 2 days.

    No proper system to obtain user statistics for each database is available.

    Copyright INASP see: for more details.

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