Publishers and library consortia: working together to support innovation and development

In Africa the demand for HE is growing, while library budgets struggle to keep pace.

Higher education is a growth industry, in Africa just as it is elsewhere.  The demand for higher education is increasing, and funding is not keeping up with demand. Libraries often find themselves at the bottom of the pile when it comes to accessing funds.

At the seventh 'Publishers for Development' meeting, publishers came together with representatives of library consortia to discuss INASP’s principles for responsible publishing activities in developing countries.  The meeting aimed to take the principles forward and to explore ways to make them work for all concerned parties.

INASP is a charity working to support global research communication.  It works with publishers to enable affordable and sustainable access to online resources to developing countries and with national library consortia or equivalent to help them meet the information needs of researchers.  (We’ve featured the INASP Principles here.)

The meeting heard from representatives from two African purchasing consortia.  Dr Joel Sam, representing CARLIGH in Ghana, and Dr Sophia Kaane representing KLISC in Kenya shared their own experiences and recommendations for how to move forward.  Key themes emerged from their presentations.

  • Phenomenal growth in tertiary education provision, especially in the private sector
  • Increased demand for HE places
  • Squeezed funding (in Ghana, for example, expenditure per student fell from $6k per head in 1980 to $1.2k in 2002 and is still falling)
  • The library never gets priority funding (in Kenya a government commission set guidelines for library budgets but these figures have yet to be realised in most universities)
  • Student information behaviour is changing
  • The potential role of libraries as innovative partners in the research process not widely acknowledged
  • The ways that universities set budgets mean that price increases must be made with sufficient advance notice
  • If price increases are too dramatic, sales via African consortia will be lost
  • Access to historic data is important
  • Abiding by INASP’s principles will mean a 'win win' for all parties

Both speakers called for open, transparent and responsible negotiations that focus on building and maintaining relationships rather than short term price hikes.

Publishers for Development is a joint initiative between the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) and INASP.  The Publishers for Development meeting was held in London on 30 June 2015.  For more information about Publishers for Development visit the website. For more information on the Association of Commonwealth Universities visit the website.

You can find out more about INASP here and read the INASP Principles for Responsible Engagement here.