Open Access Resources for Academic Libraries in Africa: Selection and Evaluation

NOSAKHERE, Akilah Shukura and ABDELWAHID, Mustafa Abbas (2014) Open Access Resources for Academic Libraries in Africa: Selection and Evaluation. Paper presented at: IFLA WLIC 2014 - Lyon - Libraries, Citizens, Societies: Confluence for Knowledge in Session 108 - Acquisitions & Collection Development. In: IFLA WLIC 2014, 16-22 August 2014, Lyon, France.

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Language: English (Original)
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Open Access Resources for Academic Libraries in Africa: Selection and Evaluation

The abundance of open access resources supports scholarly communication and research within academic libraries throughout the continent of Africa. The pursuit and use of open access resources among African universities narrows the information divide between developed and less developed countries and enables African based information professionals to fulfil the information needs of their researchers and students. The lack of quality resources lead to low research output. Weak and unreliable technological capacities generally found at African academic institutions challenge librarians to increase academic research by providing free access to valid, current and scholarly information found on the internet. The explosive growth and scope of open access resources continues to make sharing of scholarly resources easier and cheaper, however, for the librarian it means increased scrutiny and thorough assessment of sources to ensure high quality and valid information for users. Consultation with faculty colleagues and subject experts becomes even more important in determining which resources are reliable. A preliminary examination of library websites of several African university libraries indicates a strong presence of open access resources. A subsequent survey of African university libraries confirms the important role of open access resources in academic collection development and examines the criteria used to select OA resources that are relevant and reputable. Free or inexpensive access to full text scholarly and authoritative content, ease of navigation and integrated searching are basic features academic librarians look for in selecting open access resources. As discovered in the survey such attributes represent a small part of the assessment process conducted by the academic librarian. Relevancy, content consistency, and perpetuity are also major concerns in OA resource selection. This paper will examine the growth of open access (OA) resource use in African university libraries in spite of technological shortcomings; how librarians assess OA material and the implications for collection development at African academic institutions.

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