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Librarians Without Borders® Workshop Reports: 2008

The Gambia (March 10–14, 2008)

Overview of HINARI/Information Resources Workshop, Banjul, The Gambia

The workshop was a collaborative workshop of the World Health Organization, Royal Victoria Teaching Hospital (RVTH), University of The Gambia, and the E-Learning Training Initiative of Librarians Without Borders/MLA. It was held in conjunction with a University of Florida Center for Arts in Healthcare trip as this group made the initial contact and learned of the need for a HINARI training workshop. The venue was the computer laboratory of the University of The Gambia.

The twenty-five participants were from RVTH and other state hospitals, Medical Research Council (MRC), and the University of The Gambia. Participants included physicians from RVTH and the National AIDS Secretariat, nurses from several hospitals and librarians, and medical records and computer staff from various institutions.

This workshop covered all aspects of HINARI (website options and participating publishers’ portals), PubMed (website, searching by limits and Medical Subject Headings, index and history features, and My NCBI email options), plus marketing for HINARI, repackaging of HINARI material, how to conduct a workshop, and a discussion of the HINARI dos and don’ts—particularly the distribution of user name and password within each institution. Also covered were searching skills and other Internet-based health resources that are relevant in the low-income country environment.

Two-thirds of the final day was devoted to the new authorship skills material that was well received by the twelve participants who completed these modules. The activities included review of the “Authorship Web-Bibliography” and “How to Publish a Scientific Paper” modules including completion of the structured abstracts and keywords exercises plus a lively discussion of frequently asked questions.

Huja Jah of RVTH was responsible the local arrangements and did an excellent job, especially with the limited planning time she was given. Also special thanks Dr. Ahmet Secka of the National AIDS Secretariat who supplied key equipment (LCD projector, power strip) when needed during the workshop.

The facility was very good with fifteen up-to-date PCs and furniture in a nicely sized room. The Internet access was adequate except for the firewall problem. This “temporary” patch by the IT Department of the University of Gambia blocked the HINARI authentication process. We were able to bypass this with the wireless access on my laptop and, during the four days, ensure that all the institutions’ user names and passwords were functional.

Each workshop has its unique dynamics. What made this workshop unique was the firewall problem, disappearance of specific equipment during the workshop (although solved with Dr. Secka’s help), and, more importantly, the participants. Approximately one-half of the participants had never used HINARI previously. They were hard working and enthusiastic and we established an excellent learning environment with considerable give and take.

On the day following the workshop, I was able to meet with Huja Jah, the RVTH development officer, and David Parker, director of the Computer Center of the MRC.

Huja and I discussed the possibility of RVTM developing a grant proposal to enhance the hardware and bandwidth level—basically to become an ISP—and link the other state hospitals and the College of Medicine. This would parallel what was accomplished by several health institutions in Malawi. While this discussion is in initial stages, we plan to continue it via email.

At the MRC, David and I discussed the possibility of a series of short workshops (HINARI for new researchers, HINARI update, and authorship skills) plus continued work with the library staff. He introduced me to key staff at the MRC and, hopefully, funds will become available for this training. As an African-based research center, the MRC is in a position to make a major research contribution and, consequently, is a strong HINARI user.

Burundi (March 10–14, 2008)

Overview of the workshop titled “Formation des formateurs a l’ usage des systems de recherché en linge a travers le monde sur l’agriculture, la sante y l’environment” in Bujumbura, Burundi

The workshop was a collaborative effort of the World Health Organization (WHO), Information, Training, and Outreach Centre for Africa (ITOCA), Association of Health Information and Libraries in Africa–Burundi (AHILA), L'Institut des Sciences Agronomiques du Burundi (ISABU) and the E-Learning Training Initiative of the MLA/Librarians without Borders SM. The venue was the computer laboratory of the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie.

The twenty-nine participants were from educational institutions, government ministries, and research institutes based in Burundi. Participants included physicians, researchers, academics, and library personnel.

The initial day of the workshop covered an overview of the Internet/technical requirements and HINARI (health), AGORA (agriculture), and OARE (environmental sciences) programs, which are coordinated by WHO, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) respectively. On the second and third days, the participants were divided by area of interest. For the health-related participants, we conducted a slightly abbreviated course on all aspects of HINARI (website options and participating publishers’ portals) and PubMed (website, searching by limits and Medical Subject Headings, index and history features and My NCBI email options).

On the fourth day, the groups reconvened and covered the marketing, how to conduct a workshop and dos and don’ts modules plus reviewed the training tools that were on the workshop CD-ROM. Also discussed were the authorship skills modules, although there was not sufficient time to do the hands-on activities.

After completion of the four-day workshop, we conducted two ‘short courses’ with 20+ individuals attending the agriculture and health programs.

Each workshop has its unique dynamics. What made this workshop unique was that there were no major problems—the main computer and breakout labs were fine with decent computers and reliable Internet access, the backup generator worked well the once or twice it was needed, the breaks were on time, and the luncheons were very nice.

All the participants worked diligently despite different levels of English skills and the fact that only some of the presentations were translated. The trainers felt that this was one of the best-organized workshops in Africa with a group of dedicated students. All this is a reflection of the conscientious work of the local arrangements committee (Claudine Nahayo, Janvier Nkunzebose, and Benedicte Dundaguza).

Prior to the workshop, I visited the medical library at the University of Burundi. The facility, as expected, contains little current print information. While the university has a VSAT connection for Internet access, the library does not have any computers. After a brief discussion, we agreed to meet the following Friday morning to confer about the possibility of solving this problem.

The outcome of this meeting is that a seven-person committee from the University is developing a two to three page proposal to submit to various potential funding agencies. The committee includes the assistant dean of the college, director of a research institute, and the deputy university librarian, and the two HINARI instructors are serving as advisers. We are hopeful that this “key but missing” component for use of Internet-based information will be resolved.

Working with ITOCA staff, particularly Vimbai Hungwe, the coinstructor for HINARI, was quite enjoyable. We were able to share the instructional responsibilities but, more importantly, work with small groups of participants during the hands-on activities. We also shared training ideas and material and this is especially useful for the continued updating of the training modules.

Fiji (August 19-22 and August 26, 2008)

The “National HINARI Training Course for Medical Librarians and Researchers,” the workshop was held at the Fiji School of Medicine (FSM), Suva, Fiji.

Total of twenty-four participants consisting of academic staff from Fiji schools of medicine and dentistry, University of South Pacific, the Ministry of Health (MOH) including the school of nursing, and WHO Regional Office of the Pacific Region.

With the high number of academic staff, participants periodically left to lecture or conduct labs. In most cases, the trainers worked with these individuals in order to complete the skipped modules.

Due to the composition of the participants, a lengthier time was devoted to authorship skills, and some of the hands-on material was used for the first time.

Byproducts of National Training Workshop:

Better contacts developed by FSM librarian with academic staff and also with MOH and school of nursing (FSM library staff will assist with training at the school of nursing that is under the MOH)

Pacific Open Learning Health Net (POLHN) will take a leadership role in promoting HINARI in the region. They will incorporate HINARI material into their POLHN Country Coordinators training plus encourage instructors to include HINARI in their courses. Also, there will be a hotlink from POLHN and WHO Regional Office for the Western Pacific (WPRO) sites to HINARI and they will develop a flyer on HINARI courses and distribute that via email.

Note: three POLHN staff and one other WPRO staff person attended the course and now can serve as trainers (besides their important role in converting the email course to an online one on the POLHN Moodle server).

Casual attire was the norm; participants matched my “Hawaiian” shirts with their Fiji/Bula attire.

Uniqueness of the training workshop:

Best facilities for a training course that I have been involved in. Held at a new FSM campus built in 2006 by the European Union. Viable library with print material and banks of Internet-linked computers plus two IT training facilities. Internet was reasonably fast and reliable (except for the day rats ate through the PVC pipe and splintered the coaxial cable). Facility also had a group of knowledgeable IT staff who maintain the infrastructure. Note: Thanks to Australian aid, the library has subscriptions to ProQuest, UpToDate, and the Cochrane Library.

Due to speed of Internet and baseline skills of most of the participants, the course went quickly. We were able to devote the last day to the new authorship skills material, have extensive time to discuss marketing, and also review all the training material. Since the participants were primarily lecturers and/or researchers, they were very interested in setting up the My NCBI accounts and receiving the email updates.

Per the authorship skills modules, a byproduct of this session is that several lecturers/researchers are encouraged to submit their articles to higher level/peer-reviewed journals. There was a lengthy discussion on when to submit articles to regional publications or the broader, internationally based ones.

Was held in the capitol of Fiji, which is a mid-sized city on the side of the island that is significantly more cloudy and rainy. This was okay since I couldn’t view the ocean/coastline and be tempted to cancel the workshop and go to the beach.

Since this is a Band 2 country, there were discussions about why some material is not available. There are no easy answers, but I did explain how this is voluntary for the participating publishers.

August 26, 2008

In-service training conducted at the Fiji School of Medicine Library

Ten staff members participated in this day-long workshop.

Topics covered included an overview of HINARI (tabs, link out option, limits, and My NCBI), participating publishers/Band 2 country limits, training materials for HINARI including dos and don’ts of HINARI, searching strategies, evaluation of health information on the Internet, and marketing skills.

Approximately 50 percent was hands-on activities; workshop emphasized skills that will be used when working with users, particularly regarding HINARI.

The library director was particularly interested in the marketing module as this topic will be a project for the academic year. With the library’s excellent infrastructure plus e-resources, the discussion paralleled what I remember hearing at the UF Health Library—how to get instructors to integrate training into the curriculum and need for “gradable” assignments, and so on.

It was a pleasure working with the library staff as we spoke the same language and, as we discussed practical solutions, I’d receive understanding nods and comments about how this info was quite useful.

Zambia and Mozambique [AHILA Conference] (September 24–October 10, 2008)

University of Zambia (UNZA), Lusaka, Zambia, and the Association for Health Information and Libraries in Africa (AHILA) Conference

From September 24 to October 10, I conducted various workshops and other HINARI-related activities at the University of Zambia (September 24–October 3) and the 11th AHILA Conference in Maputo, Mozambique (October 6–10). At AHILA, I was acting as the MLA representative.

These training activities primarily were "short courses" that ranged from working individually with library staff to conducting workshops for more than fifty individuals. While the material covered in these "short courses" was a synopsis of content of the lengthier workshops, each training session was unique and different.

During the first week, I conducted two formal short courses at the University of Zambia. This included one at the University of Zambia Main Library for library staff members (Wednesday, October 1). Ten individuals participated with these being split between the Main Library and Medical and Veterinary Science Libraries—one staff. This short course was geared toward individuals with some expertise who regularly deal with users of HINARI and the agriculture and environmental research e-journal programs: AGORA and OARE. We emphasized practical skills (searching Google vs. Google Scholar searches, Boolean search operators, "Dos and Don’ts" of HINARI, plus access problems and solutions) and recent updates and enhancements to the HINARI and My NCBI web pages. Note: I also worked on a one-to-one basis with several staff members of these libraries.

What made this workshop valuable is that it was a "teachable moment." Recently, UNZA became its own ISP with a VSAT link to the satellites that deliver the Internet in sub-Saharan Africa. This has increased the reliability and speed of Internet access substantially and will have a positive impact on the use of the three e-journal access projects. Also, the University of Alabama at Birmingham is planning to fund a computer laboratory for the medical library and university teaching hospital and this will be invaluable for access and training.

The content of the second "short course" evolved after the initial announcement. Advertised as an authorship skills workshop, we initially thought this would be for postgraduate students. Instead, the course attracted forty-three fourth- to sixth-year veterinary and agriculture students, all of whom had to complete research projects before graduating. The material taught included an overview of Google vs. Google Scholar searches; Boolean search operators; tools to evaluate Internet sites; overview of HINARI, AGORA, and OARE; a detailed review of structured abstracts and how this applies to research projects; plus several "hands-on" group activities emphasizing how to develop structured abstracts for research projects. The number of students was a bit overwhelming but this just prepared me for the workshops at the AHILA conference.

Also while in Lusaka, I attended several planning meetings with the Afri-Connect staff. This group is installing a wireless network in Zambia and also has projects with the Ministry of Health including the development of several health-related portals. Due to changes and added functionality in the HINARI website plus the revision of My NCBI, I also spent time updating training material so that the workshop participants in Zambia and at AHILA received up-to-date modules on the distributed CDs.

While attending the AHILA conference, I (along with Vimbai Hungwe, Information Training and Outreach Centre for Africa; and Grace Ajuwon, former Cunningham and NLM fellow) conducted three short courses. These were an overview of HINARI, authorship skills and an introduction to HTML. In all three cases, we were limited to two-plus hours with the number of individuals attending ranging from thirty-six to more than fifty. We also had a group equally divided between English, French, and Portuguese speakers, and this resulted in a need for ongoing translation.

Consequently, this situation increased the amount of time spent lecturing and minimized the "hands-on" activities. Fortunately, every participant received a CD and can continue to complete the training material after returning home. For the next AHILA, I would suggest courses of a minimum of four hours and possibly repeating them so that the class size will be more manageable.

Despite these limits, all the trainers felt that we were able to disseminate important information to very interested and motivated participants. After the formal workshops, we followed up with numerous individual conversations and, in some cases, one-to-one instruction. Also, Vimbai and I presented a HINARI update to the whole conference and this reinforced some of the material discussed at the workshop.

Ian Roberts of WHO/HQ Library and Marie Paule Kabore of WHO/AFRO Library, along with key staff members, also attended AHILA. Vimbai, Ian, and I noted that HINARI and related issues often were brought up and we were called on to answer questions or clarify points. Ian also presented an overview of various WHO Library–related projects and how HINARI fit into the overall activities of the WHO Library and also the WHO/AFRO Library.

In conclusion, all the training activities were different than the lengthier workshops. Despite this, I (along with the other trainers at AHILA) was able to facilitate the use of HINARI and, in Zambia, the other e-journal access projects to a wide range of users: students, researchers, and particularly information specialists.

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