Iraqi Virtual Science Library (IVSL)
On May 3, public and private partnerships enabled the launch of the Iraqi Virtual Science Library (IVSL).
The project started as a partnership among the U.S. Departments of Defense and State and the fellowships program of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
A network of Iraqi universities and an Iraqi research institution will eventually make the Internet-based library available to nearly 80 percent of Iraq's scientists and university students, organizers said.
In the current pilot phase of the project, several hundred researchers are using the library and helping its developers improve the site; the user base will grow during the next phase, when orientation and training sessions will be offered, the National Academies announced.
The U.S. Departments of Defense and State asked the Academies to negotiate with publishers of high-quality scientific and technical literature to obtain reduced-price access for the virtual library.
With a grant of roughly $170,000, the Academies assembled a library collection that now has the complete texts of more than 17,400 scientific journal titles from leading publishers such as Springer, Elsevier, the American Chemical Society, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc., the scholarly journal archive JSTOR and EBSCO Information Services.
Access to major research databases, such as the ISI Web of Knowledge, has also been arranged.
Additionally, the library offers course materials and information about funding opportunities.
Sun Microsystems, Inc., will provide computer servers, information technology training for Iraqi partners, and a special software package that will make possible the eventual transfer of the IVSL from its U.S. government host server to one overseen by Iraqis.
The U.S. Civilian Research & Development Foundation will help maintain the project, transferring it entirely to Iraqi ownership after the first two years of operation, according to the Academies.
"We are extraordinarily grateful that the publishers saw the promise of the IVSL and were so generous in providing their resources at steep discounts," the National Academies' National Research Council Executive Officer E. William Colglazier said.
"The National Academies view this innovative project as part of a broader effort within the world's scientific community to help bring the benefits of science and technology to every corner of the globe."
The Academies cited an instance about two years ago when the Academies began offering free online access in more than 100 developing countries to the Academies' reports, as well as to journal articles from Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The Academies acquired one-year licenses for most of the titles in the IVSL, which alone are valued at more than $11 million on the open market; publishers have agreed to maintain the partnership thereafter if additional funds are available.
A complete list of the library's partners and details about its offerings are available online at https://ivsl.org