Linking up the layers: Campus Networks and Access to e-resources in Africa

BURNETT, Peter (2015) Linking up the layers: Campus Networks and Access to e-resources in Africa. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2015 - Cape Town, South Africa in Session 198 - Information Technology.

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Language: English (Original)
Available under licence Creative Commons Attribution.


Linking up the layers: Campus Networks and Access to e-resources in Africa

The ability for researchers to access and contribute to the wealth of knowledge and electronic information is not simply a matter of ‘hooking’ Africa to the World Wide Web. Studies have shown that availability of e-resources does not automatically lead to immediate or easy access to such resources. Improving access to the internet for researchers can be understood as a ‘layer cake’. At the highest level are Regional Educational Networks and National Regional Educational Networks. At the lower end are the individual campus networks. While the first two “layers” are important, it is university personnel who provide network connectivity and services at the campus level that play a crucial role as the first link in the networking chain, enabling libraries and researchers to gain access to electronic information and scholarly resources. If local technicians are to understand and meet the needs of researchers, it is crucial that they collaborate with experts in access and use of research literature – university librarians. This presentation describes the work of INASP (International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications) to strengthen the technical capacity of IT managers in selected African countries. Recognising the multi-layered nature of ICT infrastructure, INASP is trialling a two-strand approach: local and national. The first aims to help universities to develop the expertise of their campus IT engineers and build their relationship with library staff; the second aims to help strengthen the capacity of the National Research and Educational Networks (NRENs) so that they can then train IT staff in their member institutions. The program and its evaluation through NREN, campus engineer and librarian feedback are described.

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