Information Access in a Developing Country: Special Libraries in Egypt

By Dimitroff, Alexandra | Special Libraries, Winter 1993 | Go to article overview

Information Access in a Developing Country: Special Libraries in Egypt


Dimitroff, Alexandra, Special Libraries


IT IS NOT SURPRISING THAT INFORMATION ACCESS problems exist in developing countries. What is surprising is that the North American library community hasn't done more to assist these countries in improving library services. In Egypt, for example, foreign funding has resulted in the creation of a fine scientific and technical information (STI) retrieval network. This network identifies sources of STI, but it does not provide an efficient, reasonably priced document delivery service. This unfortunate planning oversight (the funding and planning were U.S.-based) became obvious to me as I visited libraries in Cairo, Egypt during a visit in February and March, 1992.

The article will describe two special libraries in Cairo. One is a branch library at Cairo University and the second is a government agency (the STI network mentioned above). The two differ substantially but they both illustrate how special librarians in Egypt provide information in specialized environments while coping with the economic constraints of a developing country.

Special Libraries in Egypt

There are 383 special libraries in Egypt (1986 data). Most are in government departments, semi-governmental institutes, and learned societies. In 1986 there were only 41 special libraries in the private sector.

Unfortunately, I could not arrange to visit any private sector libraries, but I made visits to two special libraries, one of which is fairly typical of Egyptian special libraries according to my host, a library science faculty member from Cairo University.

Special librarians in Egypt are as committed to providing quality information services to their clients as special librarians elsewhere. While special libraries in Egypt tend to have larger budgets (relative to institutional budgets) than other types of Egyptian libraries, these budgets are still very modest when compared to North American or European standards. A lack of resources, and the high cost of printed materials, has forced Egyptian librarians in all types of libraries to compensate for weaknesses in their collections. The primary means of overcoming these gaps is through strong personal networking. Egyptian librarians are familiar with the problems in their own libraries and expend a great deal of energy in making and maintaining contacts with other libraries. Of necessity, this frequently includes using foreign supported libraries located in Cairo, such as the British Counsel Library or the American Center Library. While librarians feel fortunate that they and their patrons have access to the collections and interlibrary loan networks of these libraries, it is unfortunate that indigenous information delivery systems are so inadequate. Also, and not insignificantly, the use of these libraries diverts hard currency out of the Egyptian economy, something that Egypt can ill afford.

Document Delivery in Egypt

A major problem in Egyptian libraries has been document delivery. Over the past several years, access has improved considerably through better electronic access systems and the availability of these systems through a national network. These systems are the exact systems we in North America and Europe search every day for the most current scientific and technical information. But access to the documents identified through these state-of-the-art electronic searches has not improved. What has resulted is a certain level of compromise on the part of STI seekers and librarians in that they are still dependent on foreign sources for document delivery. While the government has attempted to improve document delivery through the goals of an STI network (ENSTINET, described later), this has not occurred with any other type of information. From the viewpoint of a North American observer, it was puzzling how such a gap in information access was allowed to occur.

An Academic Special Library: The DRTPC Library

Cairo University has a decentralized library system which includes a large central library, which serves the humanities and social science faculties, and 36 branch libraries. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Information Access in a Developing Country: Special Libraries in Egypt
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.