Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Friday, September 08, 2006

The launch of Connecting-Africa

Jennifer De Beer sends this email report from the ASC-CODESRIA conference, Bridging the North-South Divide in Scholarly Communication on Africa. Threats and Opportunities in the Digital era (Leiden, September 6-8, 2006):

It is a get-together of mostly African Studies scholars/researchers, and for sure the theme of Open Access i.a. has been thrashed around in these past couple of days. And I am most happy to report on the connecting-africa project (officially launched yesterday), which proves what can be done when you have, at base, an already-established network of IRs (institutional repositories). For, what the initiative is, is an aggregator research (material) locator service using OAI-PMH to harvest only African Studies-related research from IR's the world over. The list of current data providers is available here, and what's also of interest are not only the indications of the quantity-subset of records being harvested in the aggregate-total number of records in disparate institutional archives, but also the figure indicating the number of African Studies experts for the institutions listed. Now, it will be obvious that the statistical data is more refined with regard to Dutch data providers (I imagine as a consequence of the, at-base, data collection effort of the DARE network), but the aim with the Connecting-Africa project is to expand the list of data providers (and so, in turn, accessible research output) to all such IRs globally which have material of interest to African Studies scholars. Already, and I am proud to see, that the IR at Rhodes University in South Africa, is one of the data providers in the network. Shows what can be done when there is enough interest, enthusiasm, and action!! Well done to the team at the African Studies Centre here in Leiden!

Here's some more detail from the about page at Connecting-Africa:

Connecting-Africa is a service that provides access to African research information and materials produced in the Netherlands and elsewhere.

The service provides:  [1] details of researchers on Africa affiliated to Dutch universities and research institutes; [2] details of organizational units of Dutch universities and research institutes where research on Africa is being undertaken; [3] titles of published research on Africa in the Netherlands; [4] digital resources on Africa (full-text of publications, images and sound) in about 40 international university repositories.  There is no charge for using the service or for contributing to it....

Connecting-Africa is the result of a pilot project started in September 2003 by the African Studies Centre in Leiden (ASC). The Distributed Africana Repositories Community (DARC) project aims to make all Africanist research material and information in the Netherlands accessible through a community portal on the Internet.

By providing federated access to university repositories and other resources, including library catalogues and publishers’ services, and by gathering knowledge and expertise that are both physically and electronically scattered across universities and research centres, it is hoped to offer fertile ground for a more effective knowledge exchange....