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Monika Elbert, Susanna Lob, Teresa Hackett, Iryna Kuchma, Simon Ball, Andrius Krisciunas, Ramune Petuchovaite
Arnold Hirshon, Marjan Vernooy-Gerritsen, Hans Jansen, Rima Kupryte, Emanuella Giavarra
EIFL's mission is to enable access to knowledge through libraries in developing and transition countries in order to contribute to sustainable economic and social development.
A. Access to Knowledge for Education, Learning and Research
Access to knowledge is fundamental to education and research, and thereby socio-economic development. Students and scholars in developing and transition countries often rely entirely on the library for learning and research materials. Professionals also need access to current resources for continuing professional development. Libraries equipped with computers, internet and skilled staff, offering comprehensive digital collections, can provide this essential support.
Addressing the challenges that libraries and their users face in the digital environment is at the heart of EIFL's programs:
Current programs include:
Open access (EIFL-OA): Open access seeks to remove price and permission barriers that prevent knowledge from being shared. It provides free and unrestricted access to research materials. It also increases opportunities for scientists in developing and transition countries to contribute to the global research community. EIFL advocates for the adoption of open access policies and mandates by research funding agencies, universities and research organisations.
Copyright for libraries (EIFL-IP): Restrictive copyright laws create legal barriers to the access and use of resources for education, research and personal development. This can also have financial consequences for libraries in developing and transition countries which have limited funds to purchase copyright-protected materials. EIFL seeks to address these issues by promoting fair and balanced copyright laws that support the library role in providing access to knowledge.
Free and open source software for libraries (EIFL-FOSS): Licence fees for commercial software applications can be a barrier to the development of a modern ICT infrastructure in libraries. Libraries in developing and transition countries require affordable, up-to-date software that can be adapted to suit local needs and languages. A wide range of free and open source software (FOSS) applications is available for libraries, but staff often lack the IT skills required. EIFL supports the deployment of free and open source software and provides the necesary training, enabling libraries to achieve significant cost savings.
B. Access to Knowledge for Sustainable Livelihoods
Technology offers new opportunities to increase access to knowledge, helping to improve standards of living and to transform lives. For many people in developing and transition countries, the public library is the only place to access computers and the internet, together with quality assured information resources. Through technology, public libraries are also well positioned to extend access to previously under-served communities. Yet in many countries where the need is greatest, public libraries are under resourced. Through a program launched in 2009, EIFL aims to spark innovative services in public libraries to improve people's lives and livelihoods.
Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP) encourages public libraries to reach out to their communities through pilot projects. Following an assessment of local needs, public libraries will develop innovative services using technology in order to improve the livelihoods of people in their communities.