Strengthenening library and documentation services within the IGAD Mandate in the Member States Project Planning Seminar 31 July to 6 August 2000 ,IGAD Seccrtariat Djibouti :Status of Sudan library,information system and services||
Paper prepared for:
Strengthening Library and Documentation Services within the IGAD Mandate in member States Project Planning Seminar, 31 July to 6 August 2000, IGAD Secretariat Djibouti
Status of Sudan Library
Information Systems and Services
Rafaa Ashamallah Ghobrial
National Coordinator, Sudan IGAD Information Node,
Documentation & Information Center, P. O Box 2404, Khartoum, Sudan, Tel : 770 776. Fax :249-11-770701
E-mail: mail to: email@example.com
Sudan is agricultural and pastoral country, covering a total area of 2.5 million square kilometers. It borders eight countries mainly IGAD states on all sides and it ends to the Red Sea..
Ecologically Sudan has a variety of climate zones which has great effect on the distribution of natural and national resources as explained in IGAD mandate which includes environmental protection, desertification control, food security, disasters and drought preparedness, water resources management, fisheries, agriculture and livestock production etc.. Also they were studied comprehensively in the national strategic plan for decade 1992-2002. The annual strategic report (1998) shows the high development and great expansion in management of these resources of the country.
All these individually and in combination have a great influence on information needs of people involved in diverse ways of development activities. It can constrain or support information generation, capture, processing and dissemination as well as the development of the related information Infrastructure and policies.
This paper will give general overview of current status in the libraries and information systems and services in Sudan.
2. INFORMATION INFRASTRUCTURE:
Pauline defines information infrastructure as national capabilities for making knowledge and Information to work. It deals with data collection, classification, cataloguing, storing, retrieval of information either manually or online and disseminating of information in different ways.
More recently the National Forum of Infrastructures of Information and Communication (Oct. 1999) has given attention to the enhancement of national information capabilities, information sources and facilities including planning and design and the need of comprehensive surveys of existing management capabilities.
There are a variety of information infrastructures, which covers different sectors of national resources, which are agriculture, education, economy, industry, finance, natural resources and research and development. These sectors are considered as information sources, which are located internally in departments of ministries, private institutions, information institutions and non-governmental institutions, externally in regional, international and UN-organizations.
We mainly concentrate on the basic infrastructure of networking:
Information and communication can not be possible without sound information technology and communication infrastructure. Without a good information technology, the means to communicate beyond the interpersonal level would be impossible. With radio, television, newspapers, satellites, and computers, information can be exchange worldwide and communication facilitated. The availability of this infrastructure in the country has greatly suffered. The main information sources such as libraries, information and documentation centres and archives did not enjoy facilities to provide necessary information to users. The communication infrastructure in the Sudan is beset by a number of difficulties.
SUDATEL is Sudan telecommunication’s company. It operates the largest telecommunications infrastructure in Sudan. Its highest priority is given to Khartoum State (the capital of the country) and major cities in other states.
Nowadays, public telephone density in the capital of the country is slightly high, but the vast rural areas still have no access to the most basic telecommunication facilities. The existing infrastructure poses various difficulties due to poorly dimensioned switching equipment; unreliable primary power sources ;
The restructuring and liberalization of the national Telecom Company took place a 3 years ago and the national carrier Sudatel is owned privately with 20% government share. Sudatel have already started digitizing existing analog lines, replacing older unreliable switches with modern high-speed switches is underway. Fiber optic links to various regions and within Khartoum have taking place. [From Mike Jensen’s Sangonet Site on Sudan].
Information institutions provide a measure of the relative numbers, size and capacity of the information infrastructures in the country and indicate the intensity of the economic activities devote to information.
There is many documentation and information centres scattered throughout the country. Most of documentation and information centres located in Khartoum, only a few have good information buildings and others have no purposely built and well-furnished information centre facilities. At the last two years, most of the institutions have just started to introduce computers and connect to the Internet in their institution but not used for information activities and services. But generally, most of providers of information services are not well equipped with necessary computers and information technology tools. A melange of equipment donated of left behind from project to project created lack of computability which made systems are more difficult to network to maintain or to use. In addition to those most of them are run by unqualified personnel. Hereby, in this paper we mainly deal with the information systems in the national information Node:
NATIONAL INFROMATION NODE [NIN]
Documentation and Information Centre [NCR-DIC] is a unit of the National Center for Research (NCR), was set up in 1974 to support research, development planning, decision-making and projects monitoring and evaluation. It is one of the institutions that serve as national depository of knowledge and information. It can also play important role in disseminating information and organization activities that create user awareness and understanding important national concerns.
So, It was designated as National Information Node for IGAD which are useful in the building of NCR-DIC systems as well as Sudan Libraries and documentation centres to discharge their functions more efficiently.
1. To make relevant information available to researchers, students, investors etc. in the various fields of knowledge all over the country.
2. To contribute towards formulating and developing a national documentation service and information system to the benefit of Sudan and IGAD states.
3. To set up national nodes and encourage use of existing mechanism for accessing information/
4. To improve provision of equipment and facilities to The documentation centres , coupled with staff training to ensure their effective use
5. To organize symposia, seminars, workshops etc. For the mutual exchange of experience by Librarians, documentalists and information Scientists in different institutions.
6. To institutionalize information functions within the national development system so as to ensure that the information services are sustainable together with development projects and plans.
1.Collectes, processes and disseminates information on published research findings dissertation reports, studies and conference papers as well as on current/foreign located sources relevant to Sudan, documents
2- Maintains and updates databases, national in scope which are
¨ National bibliographic database of over eleven thousand records;
¨ Ongoing Research projects in all subject fields
¨ Specialists in environmental health and Institutions and in this year NCR-DIC plans to expand it for different sectors specially of IGAD interests
¨ Union lists of serials
¨ Researches of NCR Researchers
¨ Sudan Medical Researches
¨ Sudanese Medicinal Plants
3- Publishes "Sudan Science Abstracts", which is produced from the national bibliographic database. It comes out twice a year, of which currently twenty-two volumes are issued. It abstracts and indexes reports, theses, dissertations, conference papers, published research findings and journal articles relating to Sudan whether generated in or outside Sudan.
4- Links with international and regional information networks, the centre is focal point of INFOTERRA (International Information System for the Environment), UNECA, CEHANET (Centre for Environmental Health Activities Network), IGAD (Intergovernmental Authority on Drought and Development), RAIN (Regional Agricultural Information Network for Eastern, Central and Southern Africa).
5- Offers Information Services from the library resources, the existed national databases and international databases on CD-ROM and Internet, referral services to other INFOTERRA sources that is outside Sudan.
6- Provides current awareness on MEDLINE, CABI Abstracts, AGRIS, AGRICOLA, INIS ,POPLINE, ERIC as well as Internet services.
7. Contributes towards development of a national information system, activities in this regard include carrying out surveys of specialized libraries, information Centres and databases, holding conferences, conducting training courses in using CDS/ISIS and CD-ROM, e-mail and Internet services.
8. Updates Union catalogue of periodicals, which is produced in 1977, contains available periodicals in Sudan, which is helpful for users, especially those of CD-ROM and Internet to identify the location of periodicals internally.
9. Updates National Register of Current Researches, which are updated on 1989.
11.Produces Microfiches, which provides Sudan collection with
microfiched materials as source of Non-conventional materials
which, are not available in hard copy.
12..Produces specialized bibliographies upon request such as
bibliographies of Sudanese Medicinal plants ; and Health
13. Plans to build DIC Electronic Network [DICEN]: DIC plans to build
DICEN of LAN/WAN for sharing files and accessing database to
NIN and other institutions especially in this year of same
concerns, regional and international organizations.
NIN RESOURCES & FACILITIES:
A. HUMAN RESOURCES :
The Center presently has 21 staff members: one PH.D, four have masters' degree, 11 have B.A/B.Sc. degrees and one Higher diploma with short courses training, 7 have high school certificates.
NIN has recognized that it is essential to determine who the clients are and what are their needs. This type of assessment carried annually so as to keep abreast of current needs. From the analysis of information requests, so the clients can be grouped into the following categories:
3% Decision makers, consultants, Top mangers
25% Researcher, Academics and Specialists
70% University students mainly postgraduates
2% corporate sector employee and pressure groups
Information needs of clients may be classified according to substance
30% Agricultural Sciences
6% Engineering / Technology/Industry/Energy
11% Mathematics & Natural Science &
20% Medical Sciences
33% Social Sciences & Humanities
Users tends to request information from the following:
50% National databases (Sudan collection)
42% International database available on CD-ROM and Internet
6% Library resources
2% referral services
With the help of information networks, it is possible to transmit different types of service to different audiences via a single channel. This also makes possible the improved provision of education and other services to small target groups and special audiences. Through increased cooperation and by exploiting the potential of technology, regional equality can be enhanced and the opportunities for individuals to acquire information can be improved. More effective use of resources will be possible.
In IGAD society, electronic communication and information networks handle huge amounts of information, which is continuously being updated. In this flood of information citizens need to be independent, critical and analytical in their acquisition, use and production of information. Increasingly, the problem is to locate relevant material in the mass of data available.
Network building is a function of national development. In Sudan we need to:
- improve the national science and technology policy in using
- Facilitate the dialogue between communication operators and the library and documentation community to use existing and improving telecommunication infrastructure for information exchange.
In addition to the Documentation & Library community all users in the country including non-governmental organizations, extension centres, the United Nations and other international and national organization with day to day information needs will benefit from the national electronic link.
Accordingly NIN plans to link electronically at three levels which are::
· Institutional level i.e. NCR units
· National level which includes the libraries & Documentation Centres in Sudan (under survey)
· Regional level which links with IGAD nucleus
In this paper, we will discuss information network at institutional level. NIN surveyed the NCR facilities and resources, which are equipment, software, human resources, and means of communications during the period from August - November 1999. The results of this survey showed the following:
· NCR consists of 16 units : 9 units in the NCR Headquarters while 7 units are far from the NIN distance around 1-16 Kilometers
· 9 units have computers for the network
· 8 units connects to the Internet
· Nine units with modem
· LANs in two units
· 6 units need stabilizers
· 9 units need printers
· 4 units have scanners
WINDOWS 95, 97, 98 ;SPSS; CORELL, FOXPRO, ADOPE , CDS/ISIS AND HTML WRITER
3. Human resources are trained on computers with medium qualification in word processing. Some qualified personnel in software in Documentation and Information Centre, Environment and Research Institute, Remote Sensing.
Networking, training and maintenance of Equipment's, security programs are needed
NIN also consults the internal specialists from the Sudanet, Sudatel, Khartoum University, Sudan University of Science and Technology, National Council for Telecommunications, and the dealers of computer companies, for means of communication, training courses, and estimated costs to run network with skilled personnel. So Data Cloud is recommended for discharging the network function smoothly. It suggests that one or two researchers form each unit to Training for trainee course to provide NIN with their processed information .
4. INFORMATION DISSEMINATION:
The growing access to computers and electronic communications worldwide makes it nowadays possible to offer and acquire automated, updated information almost in every field or activity. Specifically, the practice of scientists to consult electronic data banks as an aid for their research, and to produce and consult scientific bibliography in machine readable form, is extending considerably not only in industrialized countries, but in many developing countries as well. In particular, in all African countries - although to varying degrees within the countries and also from one country to another - many academics already use computer facilities for their daily work and scientific interchange.
The rapidly developing of information and communications technologies provide thus a useful and powerful tool for the construction a comprehensive information system that includes in principle the whole of the regular, periodic or serial scientific produced in the region, such a system can be used in principle also to catalogue and classify these publications according to previously defined quality criteria, and it can serve also as a basis to provide both editors and scientists with an efficient channel for the rapid production, dissemination and retrieval of research material [Cetto, 1997, p. 243].
PROBLEMS & CONSTRAINTS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF INFORMATION SYSTEMS AND SERVICES
The most important obstacle to information systems and service building is the inadequacy of financial and material resources available for information activities . The cause of the inadequacies is low priority attached to the information systems by decision -makers which work against developmental aspirations.
At the present Sudan has no overall functional information policy or legislation governing, regulating, guiding the information activities. Therefore, there is no mechanism for the coordination of information activities at the national level with necessary powers of decision making, implementation and monitoring specific programs and projects. Even in the sectors where such structures exist, their responsibilities and tasks are not properly defined or they lack the authority or the capacity to formulate implement realistic policies at national level.
A legislative framework does not exist to guide to the creation and development of infrastructure. Along with scarcity of space, equipment and qualified personnel, inadequacy of legal deposit legislation or its applications have impediments to the organization of national bibliographic control.
There are often no set of standards for printing, numbering and circulation of the government publications and lack of application library and documentation techniques to government documents to ensure their effective utilization.
Equally lacking is reliable information on the sources of information sources of information.
In many cases where trained personnel are managing libraries and documentation centres, they have been trained in schools of library sciences with traditional approach to librarianship. While there is practical training on using technologies in the techniques of librarianship are essential system
Approaches for Discharging the Information Systems and Services smoothly:
¨ Institutionalize information functions within sectoral development systems so as to ensure that information services are sustainable together with plans and projects
¨ Ensure the presentation of Chief Librarians and Information Specialists at strategic planning levels. Emphasis should be given to promotion and marketing of information services
¨ Identification of nodal points for institutional capacity building on existing information services
¨ Training on Intranet/Internet, multimedia tools as well as reviewing the circulation and the organization of existing systems of information
¨ Building of a national web including specialized databases
¨ Upgrading and Computerization of libraries and information centres is to be supportive institutions
¨ Establishment of information windows for the different categories of users
CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENTATIONS:
The participation of Sudan in Strengthening Libraries & Documentation services in IGAD States is available to all and not just to the privileged few. This gives equality of access through an integrated national network, which covers all parts of the country, reaching as extensively and as affordably as possible, in which each network system links with others. Also to empower its individuals as participants and consumers and also to ensure equal access to the providers of services.
Such regional project will help to establish adequate infrastructure to the development of information systems and services for supporting IGAD activities in Sudan.