African institutions more than ready to share their digital content!

The African Digital Library Support Network (ADLSN) created an online survey that was disseminated by ADLSN country coordinators between April and July 2013.

The goal of the survey was twofold: (1) to study the current situation of African digital repositories in eight ADLSN countries (Nigeria, Senegal, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Mauritius, and Zimbabwe); and (2) to gather data for determining the interest in participating in ADLSN’s Collection Visibility Project (CVP) and the relevant implementation issues. CVP’s goal is to establish a centralised hosting solution for institutions that have digital collections, but that don’t have the adequate infrastructure to make their collections accessible globally.
Of the 79 institutions that responded to the survey, 38 expressed interest in the ADLSN’s Collection Visibility Project (CVP) and have collections ready to be included and the technical capacity to successfully participate. The first phase of the project has started with the selection of Amazon Web Services as the infrastructure platform. In addition, the selection of pilot institutions and preparation for implementation in the fourth quarter of 2013 has begun.

Other survey findings revealed that there is a broad adoption of FOSS tools as a repository solution (most common being DSpace and Greenstone).  In addition, capacity building in FOSS has clearly been a focus for libraries as evidenced by the survey data that more institutions had received training, than had not (with the exception of Mauritius).

The survey clearly demonstrates that there is a general level of computer literacy and technical proficiency. Nearly all institutions (76) report that their staff has knowledge of ’general computer use (capable of using email, Internet and Office Suites).’ A large number also have network administrators (69) and hardware specialists (61). On the other hand, institutions reported that more specialized skills remain less common. For instance, those reporting web and software developers on staff was 47.

Other findings included:

  • There still remains great variability in access from institution to institution, with collections most reported as either  only ‘available on local network’ (35) or ‘open to the public’ (30).
  • Long-term preservation is beginning to be addressed; 48% have a long-term preservation strategy
  • Digital collections are primarily comprised of texts, followed by images, then video and audio.
  • The main challenges that remain include: lack of qualified staff, technical resources, reliable and affordable connectivity, and copyright.

Complete survey results available here: [PDF]