2020 took us all by surprise. In March, due to COVID-19, the institutions that we work with closed down, travel restrictions were introduced and the pandemic forced everyone to reorganize their operations and move online.
We adapted quickly, replacing scheduled in-person meetings and training with 149 virtual workshops, meetings, and conferences.
Academic libraries had to continue to support faculty and students, who were working and studying remotely from their homes, presenting serious challenges for many libraries in our 38 partner countries lacking sufficient IT infrastructure or funding to install remote access systems.
We asked our publisher partners and content aggregators to allow off-campus access to paywalled e-books, journals and databases via username & password. Some responded positively, offering temporary access. Also, 104 institutions in 11 countries took advantage of EIFL-negotiated discounted pricing and subscribed to RemoteXs, a technical solution for remote access to licensed e-resources. Together we were able to continue serving the needs of faculty and students, despite the challenges: in 2020 over 6 million full text articles and book chapters were downloaded by library users in our partner countries.
We supported the efforts of the global scientific community to find treatments and a vaccine for COVID-19. With our partners in the OpenAIRE project, we curated COVID-19 related research outputs via the OpenAIRE COVID-19 Gateway and the Coronavirus Disease Research Community COVID-19 on Zenodo. We also joined global advocacy calling for an intellectual property regime that supports rather than hinders efforts to tackle COVID-19.
Our 2020 EIFL Public Library Innovation Award call focused on public library responses to the pandemic. We selected four winners: a library using 3D printers to create hands-free door openers to reduce COVID-19 infection; a telephone reading service for the elderly; online video art classes for children, and library services via Facebook.
In July we launched the Myanmar Education, Research and Learning (MERAL) Portal, which by the end of 2020, provided open access to almost 6,000 research outputs from 24 universities. We were delighted by the interest of other universities in joining the MERAL Portal, and we were looking forward to working with them in 2021. However, political events have intervened, and our hearts go out to our colleagues and partners in Myanmar.
In November, the EIFL Copyright and Libraries Programme turned 15, and we marked the occasion with a campaign showcasing the programme’s achievements. This Annual Report features one of the programme’s most successful initiatives – advocacy for ratification of the Marrakesh Treaty, which increases access to knowledge for people with print disabilities.
I hope you enjoy this report. Thank you to everyone – our partners and funders, our board members and our staff – who help to bring us closer to achieving our vision.
Our vision is a world in which all people have the knowledge they need to achieve their full potential.
SENIOR ICT OFFICER, KENYA NATIONAL LIBRARY SERVICE
“Since the EIFL training, I am always on the lookout for opportunities for training for my community.”
Yusuf Ganyana Juma is based at Kibera Public Library, which serves people living in Kibera, a slum on the outskirts of Kenya’s capital city, Nairobi. “Many people come to the library to ask for help in seeking employment. But they are missing opportunities because they do not have digital skills,” said Yusuf.
In 2018 Yusuf was one of 12 ICT Officers selected by Kenya National Library Service to undergo an intensive EIFL training-of-trainers programme that combined generic training skills with digital and mobile literacy skills. The training changed Yusuf’s life.
“Before, I wanted nothing to do with training, I only did it when instructed, and I was a terrible trainer. Through EIFL I learnt how to group trainees according to age and skills levels; how to make training interactive; how to use icebreakers, and a lot more.
“I have expanded the ICT skills course our library offers to include job seeking, marketing your skills online, and life skills like time management. Now, so many people are coming for training that we have a waiting list,” he said.
In-person training scheduled for 2020 was interrupted by COVID-19. However, Yusuf kept in touch with his trainees through social media and continued to train and mentor them online.
Find out more about EIFL's Public Library Innovation Programme
In 2020: Fifteen librarians who completed the EIFL training-of-trainers programme trained almost 1,000 librarians in Kenya, Namibia, Uganda and Zambia to introduce ICT-based services in their libraries.
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, SCHOOL OF INFORMATION SCIENCE, UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH CAROLINA
“African copyright laws are lagging behind and hinder library activities. At that first WIPO meeting it became clear that we needed to do research to make a strong case for policy makers. And that really shaped my career.”
Dick Kawooya was studying at Makerere University, Uganda, when he was appointed as EIFL Copyright Coordinator for Uganda by the Consortium of Uganda University Libraries (CUUL).
In June 2005, Dick became the first African librarian to take part in copyright negotiations at WIPO (the World Intellectual Property Organization) when he was invited to join EIFL’s delegation to the Second Session of the Inter-sessional Intergovernmental Meeting on a Development Agenda of WIPO which took place in Geneva, Switzerland.
“It was probably the most consequential event I ever attended because it was at that meeting that I noted the great need for empirical evidence from Africa to support policy work at public forums like WIPO.”
This realization prompted Dick to develop the African Copyright and Access to Knowledge Project, with other partners, which received international funding to enable a research team from eight African countries to examine the extent to which copyright laws in their countries supported access to knowledge.
In the intervening years, Dick’s relationship with EIFL led to other opportunities for research, training and engagement with policy-makers. Now Dick is recognized as an international expert on copyright and advises EIFL on copyright reform in Africa.
Find out more about EIFL's Copyright and Libraries Programme
In 2020: EIFL attended two WIPO meetings and made five interventions in support of copyright laws that maximize access to knowledge.
HEAD OF DEPARTMENT OF SCIENTIFIC INFORMATION, NATIONAL LIBRARY
“We are extremely happy to be able to take advantage of EIFL’s open access publishing agreements with journal publishers.”
KoBSON, EIFL’s partner library consortium in Serbia, has 66 member institutions and is hosted by the National Library. One of Tatjana Timotijević’s responsibilities is negotiating with publishers for access to e-resources for KoBSON members. Tatjana is also EIFL Country Coordinator in Serbia.
KoBSON subscribes to e-resources from 17 content providers. These are well used: in 2020, there were over 1.8 million full-text downloads from these e-resources. Serbia’s research output is also high: over 4,000 articles are published by corresponding authors from Serbia annually in Web of Science indexed journals.
The number of articles published in open access grew from 32% in 2017 to 40% in 2020. To encourage this trend, KoBSON negotiated agreements with Cambridge University Press for 2020 and 2021 that include open access publishing terms for their authors.
KoBSON authors have also been benefiting from the agreements that EIFL negotiates.
“Through the EIFL agreements our researchers have the opportunity to publish in open access at waived or discounted article processing charges (APCs) in 1,176 journals,” said Tatjana.
“We are a small team at KoBSON and do not have the capacity or time to negotiate these complex agreements ourselves, nor do we have contacts with all the publishers where Serbian authors publish,” she said.
Find out more about EIFL's Licensing Programme
In 2020: EIFL agreements with 10 publishers enabled authors in our partner countries to publish for free or at reduced APCs in 1,523 journals.
LIBRARIAN, COLLEGE OF SCIENCE, KWAME NKRUMAH UNIVERSITY OF SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
“Together, EIFL and CARLIGH have succeeded in building new open science champions. In 2021 we will create a roadmap for future development of institutional and national open science policies, infrastructure and skills in Ghana.”
In 2020, EIFL and our partner library consortium, the Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Ghana (CARLIGH), launched a training programme to raise librarians’ and researchers’ awareness about open access and open science and to stimulate advocacy for adoption of open science policies.
“Currently, just the CSIR and the university where I work have adopted open access policies,” said Richard Bruce Lamptey, EIFL’s Country Coordinator in Ghana.
“The COVID-19 pandemic put a stop to face-to-face training, so with EIFL we organized six webinars. Over 550 people took part, including many librarians and researchers who might not have been able to travel to in-person events.
“Already I can see changes. Our librarians are more able to advise researchers about publishing in quality open access journals, and how to avoid predatory publishers.
“Our researchers are more careful about where they publish – they prefer open access journals that have greater visibility and bring more citations. And more researchers are using ORCID to identify themselves, which improves attribution, recognition and discoverability of research outputs.”
Find out more about EIFL's Open Access Programme
In 2020: In Europe, EIFL, with OpenAIRE and other partners, organized more than 100 open science training events reaching over 13,500 librarians, researchers and students.
“For generations, visually impaired people have had their requests for accessible format books declined because the books were simply not available. With the rights gained under the Marrakesh Treaty, our community is becoming braver about asking for books. It is like a new beginning!”
- Inga Davidonienė, Director, Lithuanian Library for the Blind
When word came through that negotiators had reached agreement on the text for the Marrakesh Treaty for persons with print disabilities, delegates attending the WIPO (World Intellectual Property Organization) Diplomatic Conference in Marrakesh in June 2013 burst into spontaneous outpourings of joy.
The treaty, which took five years of tough negotiations, marked the start of the end of the book famine for blind and visually impaired people – the fact that only 7% of the world’s printed materials are available in accessible formats, like braille, audio, large print and digital accessible formats.
The treaty – full name, Marrakesh Treaty to Facilitate Access to Published Works for Persons Who Are Blind, Visually Impaired, or Otherwise Print Disabled – removes legal barriers to copying books and other copyright-protected works into accessible formats, and to sharing them across borders.
EIFL actively supported the World Blind Union in negotiations at WIPO headquarters in Geneva that led to the ‘miracle of Marrakesh’. Now work to deliver on the promise of the Marrakesh Treaty, to help end the book famine, has moved to national level. There are three stages: a country must agree to join the treaty, then the treaty’s provisions are usually implemented into national law, and libraries should gear up to make use of their new rights under the treaty.
EIFL has been working hard on all fronts in partner countries, raising awareness among librarians and policy-makers, supporting advocacy campaigns, organizing seminars, responding to government consultations, and publishing specialist guides for librarians. Our two key guides, The Marrakesh Treaty: An EIFL Guide for Libraries (2014), published in nine languages, and Getting Started. Implementing the Marrakesh Treaty for persons with print disabilities. A practical guide for librarians (2018), available in five languages, have been downloaded almost 2,000 times from the EIFL website.
By December 2020, the treaty had reached a major milestone – over 100 countries had joined, among them 23 EIFL partner countries. Fourteen EIFL partner countries have begun or already completed implementation of the treaty into national law, and libraries are starting to realize the benefits for print-disabled patrons.
Thank-you to the Open Society Foundations for supporting our work in the area, and to UNESCO and the University of Toronto Scarborough for supporting regional training events.
Zimbabwe joined the Marrakesh Treaty in 2019. Now the provisions are being implemented into national law, and in 2020, EIFL and the Zimbabwe University Libraries Consortium (ZULC) submitted comments on the copyright amendment bill. Rosemary Maturure, EIFL’s Copyright Coordinator in Zimbabwe, says university libraries are getting ready to provide expanded services for visually impaired people.
“We are raising awareness about the treaty so that visually impaired people know their rights, through university exhibitions, national disability events, conferences, and through our library websites. At the same time our libraries are dedicating staff for serving visually impaired students, and some librarians have attended online training in the latest techniques in accessible book production, such as braille, audio, e-text and large print formats, offered by WIPO’s ABC Accessible Publishing initiative.”
In 2017, Kyrgyzstan became the first EIFL partner country to both ratify the Marrakesh Treaty and implement it into national law, following a successful advocacy campaign led by EIFL’s partner, the Kyrgyz Library and Information Consortium (KLIC). Librarian Sania Battalova, who was the Vice-president of KLIC and EIFL’s Country Coordinator in Kyrgyzstan, remembers the Marrakesh Treaty campaign as one of the most exciting and rewarding periods in her career.
“The needs in Kyrgyzstan were great. The Republican Library for the Blind and Deaf lacked financial support, and it had limited braille and digital collections. There were no textbooks in accessible formats for university students, or accessible format e-resources. And librarians were nervous about creating accessible texts because of copyright law. “In 2014, EIFL engaged a Kyrgyz law firm, ARTE, to translate EIFL’s guide to the Marrakesh Treaty into Russian. At the same time, the lawyers examined Kyrgyzstan’s copyright law to see what changes were needed to bring it into line with the treaty. Bringing librarians and legal professionals to work together was a great step: we now understood the treaty and had a vision for how the copyright law should be adapted. So we were able to advocate for two steps at once – ratification of the treaty and copyright law reform.
“Kyrgyzstan is a small country and this worked in our favour: library directors know each other, and – very importantly – we have professional connections with people in the national copyright office. We began our campaign, meeting with officials and lawmakers, but progress was slow. “Then, in 2015, with support from EIFL, we received a grant from the Soros Foundation-Kyrgyzstan for a country-wide campaign for open education and free access to knowledge, and also for copyright law reform. The campaign was called, ‘The Right to Read, Right to Knowledge’.
“This was our breakthrough, and from that moment it was non-stop action. We held many meetings and seminars, reaching out to Members of Parliament (MPs), government officials, lawyers, non-governmental organizations. “We were very lucky that MP Dastan Bekeshev, the first blind person to be elected to parliament, strongly supported the campaign. Dastan introduced the Marrakesh Treaty to other MPs, and emphasized its importance to the community.
“In February 2016, we organized the first-ever conference in Kyrgyzstan on copyright, ‘Copyright in the Digital Age: Access to Information and Knowledge’. All the players met together – international advisors, MPs, government ministries, libraries and societies for the blind, copyright officials, and legal experts. The conference was the key to our success because other stakeholders started to view libraries as serious partners in copyright law reform.
“Afterwards, we continued to work with ARTE law firm, drafting proposals for amendments. MP Dastan supported our amendments and ensured that they were included in the copyright bill (2016). We waited anxiously over the next months – and in March 2017, were overjoyed to hear that the President had signed the bill into law. And all our proposed amendments were included!
“To complete the legal process, the government should also accede to the Marrakesh Treaty. In May 2017, we were delighted when the government deposited its instrument of accession at WIPO, and three months later, in August, the Marrakesh Treaty entered into force in Kyrgyzstan. From now on, librarians would not be forced to turn down requests for accessible format texts because of copyright. At last, blind and visually impaired people in Kyrgyzstan had equal rights of access to information.
“In 2018, to show the Marrakesh Treaty in action, we facilitated the first-ever international transfer of accessible format books to Kyrgyzstan during a national seminar in Bishkek organized by WIPO in cooperation with the State Service of Intellectual Property and Innovation (Kyrgyzpatent). The requested titles were converted into digital accessible format by the University of Toronto Libraries, Canada and transferred to Kyrgyzstan using Dropbox. In that seminar, we showed how straightforward international exchange of accessible books can be.
“Our success in ratifying the treaty and amending our copyright law was the result of a collective effort by many passionate and involved organizations and individuals, including libraries. We are extremely thankful for their hard work.”
Now new services for persons with print disabilities are being rolled out nationwide. The Republican Library for Children and Youth, a public library in the capital Bishkek, is leading efforts to develop a national library infrastructure for accessible books. The library has developed practical manuals on how to convert printed works into accessible formats, and has provided training.
“Now we are working towards creating a national catalogue of accessible books. All our libraries in Kyrgyzstan have access to the catalogue, and can request material needed from other libraries. In this way, blind and visually impaired people will have access to resources from across the country. And if we do not have the book needed in Kyrgyzstan, for the first time, we can request it from another country,” says Nyrilya Sarybaeva, head of the library’s training centre.
Lithuania has also joined and implemented the treaty into national law.,By enabling cross-border sharing of accessible format material, the Marrakesh Treaty dramatically expands opportunities for learning and research for visually impaired people. In 2020, Inga Davidonienė, Director of the Lithuanian Library for the Blind, received an unexpected request from a student in Delhi in India. “The student is studying Indo-European languages. Lithuanian is a very old language that belongs to the family of Indo-European languages, and he needed books in Lithuanian. He selected 14 audio books from a list we provided. I was so happy to help. Such an experience gives us confidence that we are moving in the right direction in serving visually impaired scholars. We are becoming a truly global service!
“In 2020 we organized five seminars for Lithuanian librarians, where our specialists shared knowledge, experience and guidelines for practical implementation of the treaty. More than 300 public and academic librarians took part.
“It is very important for Lithuanian libraries to know that they can also serve readers who cannot read print text. Our aspiration is that all print disabled readers who come to any Lithuanian library will receive the information they need.”
1 Bourne R, Steinmetz J, Flaxman S, et al., Trends in prevalence of blindness and distance and near vision impairment over 30 years: an analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study. Lancet Glob Health. 2020. Accessed via the IAPB Vision Atlas (https://www.iapb.org/learn/vision-atlas).
People living with perceptual impairment such as dyslexia, and physical disabilities that prevent them from holding or turning the pages of a book, also benefit from the Marrakesh Treaty. Global statistics for these beneficiaries are not available.
EIFL income and expenditure 2020
|Sponsorship, interest and other income||90,294||2.4%|
|Personnel & contracted expenses||102,415||9.4%|
|Committed expenditure for 2021 to 2023 programme delivery||2,534,843|
We would like to thank the following organizations and individuals for their generous support for our work in 2020.
EIFL (Electronic Information for Libraries) is an international not-for-profit organization that works with libraries in developing and transition countries to enable access to knowledge for education, learning, research and sustainable community development.
EIFL works in collaboration with libraries in 53 developing and transition countries.
Meet our Staff, Management Board and Network.
EIFL has built relationships with a wide range of organizations to make knowledge more accessible. See the list of partners we worked with in 2020.
In 2020, EIFL organized, supported or took part in 149 events, workshops and conferences about issues that affect access to knowledge.
Top background image: ICT training in Nakabago Village, Mukono Municipality, Uganda, conducted by EIFL’s partner, Maendeleo Foundation. Photo provided by Maendeleo Foundation.
Vision background image, and EIFL Director: Photos by Augustinas Žukovas.
The Right to Read for People with Print Disabilities: Photo by Khasar Shandag.
Financial report background image: Children in Ghana learn ICT skills through a project supported by EIFL.