Access Innovations, Inc., a database building company located in Albuquerque, New Mexico, has announced a major initiative to provide the West with access to Russian information. In cooperation with the Moscow-based International Center for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI), Access Innovations has established a new source of bibliographic data, written in English, covering Russian scientific, technical, social science, and business literature.
Access Innovations expects approximately 300.000 items in science and technology and about 200,000 in business, social science, government, and law to be added to the database on an annual basis. All legal and regulatory documents, including legislation in progress, will be available in fulltext.
"We plan to have the first product on the market in the fall of this year," Marjorie Hlava, president of Access Innovations, told Information Today. "The first phase will concentrate on legal information, regulations, newspapers, and other sources which can provide Western policy makers and business people with an insight on the rapidly changing political and economic scene in Russia. Needless to say, we are very excited about the opportunity which has come our way."
In keeping with the name of her company, Ms. Hlava has named the new Russian project "Access Russia." With the situation as volatile as it is at the moment in Russia, she admits to having to be "very flexible" in her dealings with Russian authorities and business associates.
Access Russia will be under the direction of Dr. Rustem Seilful-Mulukov, a former geology professor who has worked for many years in the information sector of the Soviet Union and who has more than 60 publications to his name. ICSTI itself is managed by Dr. Alexander Butrimenko, who has accepted a position on the board of Access Russia.
Access Russia, in addition to building the database, will provide document delivery services for all items in the database and will provide Russian-to-English translation services.
The recent dissolution of the USSR into several republics has obviously caused many political and economic changes. These changes are impacting the information scene as well. Large chunks of the infrastructure which produced, processed, stored, transferred, and used information products either no longer exist or have changed drastically. Until the recent upheaval, the state was the only player in the information sector. All scientific and technical information, whether it be patents, theses, reports, journals, conference proceedings, and books, as well as secondary sources such as abstracts and indexes, was produced through government funded and controlled organizations. Business information, as we know it in the West, was practically non-existent.
In the new Russia, state funding for information-oriented organizations, such as the All Union Institute for Scientific and Technical Information (VINITI) and the Central Scientific Research Institute of Geodesy, Cartography, and Aerial Photography, has been drastically reduced. In some cases, the cuts in funding range up to 80 percent of the budgets formerly provided by the central government. These funding cuts, coupled with inflation, material shortages, and a new set of ethics, make for a very fluid business setting indeed.
On the positive side, while the former state-owned enterprises are struggling with the recent changes, a growing entrepreneurial spirit has led to the creation of a new publications and information sources which, in some cases, even compete with state-owned organizations. …