Magazine article Academe

Online Library Gives Iraqis Access to Science Journals

Magazine article Academe

Online Library Gives Iraqis Access to Science Journals

Article excerpt

On May 3, scientists and government officials announced the launch of the Iraq Virtual Science Library, which makes more than 17,000 major scientific journals available to Iraqi engineers, physicians, researchers, and scientists. Through the online library, almost 80 percent of Iraq's scientists and university students will have access to the scientific content available at any top-tier university in the United States.

"If Iraqi scientists and engineers are going to he able to help rebuild and stabilize their country, they have to 1% able to access current knowledge in their fields," says D. J. Patil, a research scientist with the Institute for Physical Sciences and Technology at the University of Man land. Patil participated in constructing the library through the Science and Technology Policy Fellows Program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

The library was created through a public-private partnership Involving, among other groups, technology companies, several U.S. government agencies, and publishers of scientific journals. The State Department, the Defense Department, and the Civilian Research and Development Foundation subsidized the effort, and the National Academy of Sciences worked with publishers to help secure access to journals. The library's creators see it as a way to counter the deterioration of Iraq's scientific, technical, and educational infrastructure that occurred during Saddam Hussein's rule and the damage and looting caused by the current war.

"Physically building a library in Iraq would he prohibitively expensive and take a long time," Patil says. "And even if you could build it, scientists would not be able to access it easily or safely under current circumstances. …

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