OARE Delivers Environmental Research Where It's Needed
Online Access to Research in the Environment, a program providing developing nations with free or nearly free access to scientific literature about the environment, launched in 2006. The UN Environment Programme, Yale University and scientific associations and publishers — including Elsevier — helped to launch the program. OARE is similar in mission to the HINARI and AGORA philanthropic initiatives which Elsevier also supports. Yale University Library’s Head of Electronic Collections Kimberly Parker and Associate University Librarian for Collections and International Programs Ann Okerson recently commented on Yale’s involvement in OARE. Parker serves as OARE content support manager and Okerson as co-principal investigator on OARE's foundation grants.
How did Yale get involved in OARE?
Ann Okerson: Following the launch of HINARI in 2001, we became very supportive of what it would do for the developing world. We invited Barbara Aronson of HINARI to Yale to talk with us, and then Kimberly began to support technical work involved in HINARI.
How did OARE get started?
Ann: OARE came into existence for several reasons. First, environmental studies makes a natural partner to HINARI and AGORA, two UN-sponsored projects focusing on health and agriculture. Second, Yale's School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, especially through the untiring energy and fundraising of its staff member Paul Walberg, became engaged in the project. Third, the Yale Library decided to extend support of HINARI and AGORA by putting our energy behind OARE too.
How have you gotten societies and publishers involved?
Kimberly Parker: Maurice Long, publisher liaison for HINARI and AGORA, has served in the same capacity for OARE. The International Association of STM Publishers funds his work on our behalf. In addition, other OARE advocates have encouraged publishers to get involved. In particular, colleagues at Yale FES are encouraging society involvement.
Please, can you describe how OARE works?
Kimberly: OARE is a public-private partnership of global dimensions. Publishers offer environmentally related content via the OARE portal. Eligible institutions register, and UNEP supplies usernames and passwords allowing access to the portal and its content. Grants from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation have provided initial support. OARE is available to nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations performing environmental work in most countries whose GNI per capita (World Bank, 2006) is below US$3,000.
How is Yale participating in OARE moving forward?
Kimberly: Yale works on promotion to societies, developing the technical architecture and website, managing the content database and developing user engagement. OARE Program Librarian Evviva Weinraub, hired by the Yale Library, does much of this work.
How are you gauging the program’s success?
Kimberly: We’re gathering statistics and will be making qualitative reviews, separately and in conjunction with assessment of HINARI and AGORA. It’s easy to identify numbers of developing countries and institutions participating in the program, or sessions and downloaded articles. More difficult to measure quickly is improvement in environmental research in eligible countries, as many factors can affect outcomes. A review of HINARI and AGORA last summer indicated users highly value the initiatives. We expect to repeat similar reviews at regular intervals to ensure all three programs continue their successful work.
What challenges face OARE?
Ann: Key challenges include long-term sustainability of the project and assuring that the entire potential user community benefits from provided material.
How can librarians in developed nations help support OARE?
Kimberly: There are as many ways as there are librarians wanting to help! Possibilities range from spreading the word to ensure every eligible institution signs up for OARE, to thanking participating publishers and encouraging more publishers to get involved, to working with sister libraries in eligible nations and helping them secure improvements in their communication technology infrastructure.
What do you hope for OARE?
Ann: We hope that OARE, along with HINARI and AGORA, makes for a better world of literacy and scientific and economic advancement.