Bridging the digital divide : working toward equity of access through document supply services in South Africa

Baker, Kim Bridging the digital divide : working toward equity of access through document supply services in South Africa., 2003 . In IFLA 8th Interlending and Document Supply International Conference, Canberra (Australia), 28 - 31 October 2003. [Conference paper]


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English abstract

South Africa’s history presents unique challenges for librarians involved in document supply services in South Africa. The apartheid era left a legacy of unequally distributed resources, with some libraries being very well supported financially, while other libraries that were allocated to separately serve the black population of South Africa were atrociously under-resourced. Traditional Interlending services were one way to help bridge this gap. With the change in government, political and strategic priorities also changed, focusing on addressing and redressing this imbalance. However, at the same time, great advances were made globally with technological developments, and globalization occurred almost simultaneously. This left many of the strategic initiatives without funding, and many initiatives had to be re-thought to accommodate the global and technological changes. In South Africa, Sabinet-Online led (and is still leading) the move towards digitization. As a private company, they are able to generate profits, and thus had the necessary resources to pioneer this digital revolution, while many state-funded institutions fell further behind, due to drastic budget cuts. Sabinet-Online have introduced ReQuest, which is an online Interlending module providing all functionality, including an electronic IFM (Interlending fees management) system. Most major educational, government and corporate libraries now use ReQuest to process their Interlending requests nationally. However, many smaller, under-resourced libraries, especially in rural and remote areas, are not able to afford Sabinet-Online’s subscription fees, and thus are finding that they are being left behind. This paper gives a brief synopsis of the developments and current state of document supply in South Africa, then moves on to look at digitization in Africa as a whole, and the problems digitization poses for equity of access. Finally, it concludes by looking at ways in which document supply services can be utilized to bridge the digital divide, and ensure equal access to information for all.

Item type: Conference paper
Keywords: Interlending, Document Supply, Digital Divide, Access
Subjects: J. Technical services in libraries, archives, museum. > JJ. Document delivery.
J. Technical services in libraries, archives, museum. > JK. Interlibrary loans.
D. Libraries as physical collections. > DB. National libraries.
Depositing user: Kim Baker
Date deposited: 12 Jun 2006
Last modified: 02 Oct 2014 12:03


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