"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)

9.10.2009

closing the information access gap

Chris Blattman posted yesterday about the welcome news that JSTOR now offers free access to its incredible archive of academic material to academic and non-profit institutions in Africa and other parts of the developing world. Access to current research is a huge barrier for African scholars at universities on tighter budgets than you would believe.

I could not do my job without easy online access to the latest research (I spent about an hour digging around on JSTOR today) and know that the barriers African researchers face to getting information can sometimes seem insurmountable. Kudos to JSTOR for working to close that access gap.

After I mentioned JSTOR's program on Facebook, a friend who's an Africana librarian alerted me to an innovative project run by the University of Iowa's Widernet program. Because internet access can be a problem for scholars in developing countries, Widernet's eGranary loads millions of documents - including academic articles, web pages, videos, & multimedia presentations - onto hard drives, which can then be used over local area networks in-country.

These are great initiatives to help close the information gap between the developed and developing worlds. Click here if you'd like to learn more about JSTOR's project and the African Access Initiative. You can learn how to be a contributor to the eGranary or donate a used computer to the project here.

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