Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Access to free electronic resources at CAGRIC

Main entrance to CAGRIC
I have just come from visiting the College of Agriculture Education (CAGRIC) of the University of Winneba, in Ghana. CAGRIC is located in a small and quite town of Asante Mampong, about 60km from Kumasi, the regional capital for the Ashanti Region. The College has about 1,600 students who for their academic information services use a small college library made of a large reading room, bookshelves and a couple of offices.

Although the college library is small and poorly stocked in terms of books, students and staff at the college have access to thousands of electronic resources (e-resources) mainly available through international initiatives such as the Research4Life initiative and the Programme for the Enhancement of Research Information (PERI). Under the Research4Life initiative, staff and students have access to electronic journals and books available through:
  • AGORA (Access to Global Online Research in Agriculture) managed by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); 
  • HINARI Access to Research in Health programme managed by the World Health Organization (WHO);
  • OARE (Online Access to Research in the Environment) managed by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP); and
  • ARDI (Access to Research for Development and Innovation) coordinated by the World Intellectual Property Organization.
CAGRIC Librarian demonstrating e-resources to students
Under PERI, an initiative of the International Network for the Availability of Scientific Publications, staff and student access EBSCO database, JSTOR, Brittanica Online Academic, Africa Online Journals (AJOL), World Bank publications, among many others.

Provision of access to e-resources at CAGRIC is not without challenges. According to the Head Librarian, Mr. Theophilus Fiawatoafor, frequent power outages and un-reliable Internet connection have a negative impact on the use of e-resources in the institution. Other problems faced are inadequate computers for use by students to access the e-resources. While a large number of staff access e-resources from their offices, students who decide to use Library facilities have to share only three PCs.

CAGRIC Library
 Despite the challenges faced, access to e-resources is filling the gap for academic and research information that exists in the College. Students and staff have access electronic resources that otherwise may not be available to them. Subscription costs to the e-resources available to staff and students are very high and way beyond the Library budget for acquisition of information resources.  

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