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Librarians Without Borders® Workshop Reports and Photos: 2014

Yemen (March 2-5, 2014)

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A four day National HINARI Training Course was conducted at the Al-Bustan Hotel in Sana’a, Yemen.  The workshop was supported by the WHO Regional Office for the Eastern Mediterranean (EMRO) and the Librarians Without Borders®/Medical Library Association (LWB).  It was hosted by the National Information Center (NIC).  Dr. Lenny Rhine (LWB) and Mr. Hatem Nour El Din Hassan, (EMRO) were the instructors. Local arrangements were ably coordinated and facilitated by the staff of the NIC particularly Mr. Abdu Shaban and Mr. Mustafa Abreen.  Mr. Shaban and Dr. Abdulwahed AlSerouri also assisted as facilitators during the training.  Finally, special thanks to Dr. Aisha Jumaan, Consultant, Bio-engagement Program, U.S. Department of State. Without her tireless work and the funding from the Program, this workshop would not have been organized and attended by the excellent group of participants from institutions throughout the country.  

As the venue, the Al-Bustan hotel was first-class.  The workshop room was well equipped and the Internet access reliable with sufficient bandwidth to complete all the exercises.  The breaks and luncheon buffet also were quite nice especially with the luncheon location being at the poolside.  Also, the instructors appreciated being housed in venue location.

The twenty-eight participants for the workshop were equally divided between university personnel (predominately academic and clinical staff) and governmental agencies staff members (Ministry of Water and Environment, National Information Center, Ministry of Health and Population and other agencies).  While a majority of the participants are based in Sana’a, there was representation from Aden, Dhamar, Hadhramout, Hodeidah, Ibb and Taiz.

In the case of the Ministry of Water and Environment, the agency needed access to all the Research4Life programs (R4L - health, agriculture, environment and innovation research resources).  Also several participants did not have their institutions’ passwords and three needed to register for HINARI.  All these issues were resolved before or during the workshop.

In the four day workshop, the principal modules covered were searching skills, evaluation of health information on the Internet, health resources on the Internet, HINARI website, HINARI/PubMed (website, filters, history, and advanced search), MY NCBI accounts, e-books resources for HINARI users,  evidence-based practice resources for HINARI users, authorship skills and Zotero.  The evidence-based practice module received special emphasis as many of the participants have both research and clinical responsibilities.  A second area of focus was the authorship skills modules and Zotero, a bibliographic management software tool.  One participant from Dhamar University focused on the AGORA (agriculture research) program as this paralleled his academic interests.

All the participants in this large group were hard working and dedicated to learning about HINARI and the other resources.  While a large majority of the participants had a medical background, several of the participants did not have this knowledge and had learn the medical terminology during the workshop (e.g. for evidence based medicine).  Despite this, most of the participants completed the assignments in a timely fashion except for the Zotero module.  This also was a lively group with a number of the individuals asking questions and also adding to the discussions.  All the participants received a CD with the specific modules (PowerPoint presentations) and exercises (Word doc).  Approximately 50% of the training material is available in English and Arabic. 

The instructors felt that the participants were appreciative of the workshop being held in Sana’a.  We also observed that there are uneven resources (Internet access, bandwidth) definitely between those institutions in the capitol and the more regional cities.  English skills were more than adequate as a majority of the modules were taught in this language.  We were able to have summaries in Arabic and several of the modules were conducted in this idiom.    Regarding the level of work, the presentations for the group activities (marketing plan, structured abstracts) were of a quality as high as any other workshop.  Again, this is a reflection of the dedication and skill level of the participants and their understanding of the value of access to current health information.

The participants completed post-workshop surveys.  Almost all the participants ‘agreed’ that the workshop was well organized, had relevant material with useful ‘hands-on’ exercises, that the trainers were knowledgeable/organized, effective presenters and responsive to questions and that the workshop resulted in their obtaining useful knowledge and skills.  According to the participants, major strengths of the workshop included Demos/Hands on, Information gained, Networking and Support materials.  There were a significantly broader reply to the length of the workshop being adequate with less than half the participants replying ‘agree’ and the other half ‘somewhat agree’ and ‘somewhat disagree’. 

The surveys also included numerous negative comments about the presentation of the Zotero module.  This was the last material taught and there was insufficient time for the downloading of the software, installation of the program and completion of the various exercises.  The instructors thought the software had been downloaded the previous day but that was correct for only 50% of the participants.  The participants do have the module and can review this after the workshop.   We plan to conduct a follow-up survey in 6 months to evaluate the impact of the workshop and outputs completed by the participants.

On March 6, the instructors visited the NIC.  We discussed the possible role of the NIC as the country’s Research4Life training center.  The activities could include hospital workshops and additional training for groups from all programs and cross-training for individuals whose institutions have registered for multiple programs.  The NIC also could become a resource for R4L users within the country - for trouble shooting/technical issues and registration and access issues.  The NIC staff plan to develop a proposal and the instructors will continue to work with this group.

We also discussed the possibility of the NIC becoming a national dignitary repository using the Dspace software – Open Source software available from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.  Possible material would include governmental reports and other documents, thesis, unpublished research and copies of published papers.   This would result in the material being available on the Internet.

For the instructors, this was the first time working with the CDRF and its staff.  As previously mentioned, this workshop would not have occurred without the dedicated work of Dr. Jumaan.  Her contribution ranged from coordinating activities with the NIC for the venue selection and logistics arrangements to choosing the facilitators and participants.  This last activity was critical for the success of the workshop.  Most of the logistics handled by the CDRF were professionally completed in a timely fashion (and we realize there is a lot of paperwork that must be completed for this type of workshop). 

The one exception was the flight reservations as one of the trainers did not receive his ticket in a timely fashion and, for the other trainer, only part of the ticket was transmitted to the airline company.  This resulted in the person not being listed on the Yemenai Airways passenger list when arriving in Paris and the airline having no record of a return flight from Sana’a to Paris.

Bosnia and Herzegovina (April 1-3, 2014)

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The Research4Life Train the Trainer’s workshop was conducted at the Hotel Hollywood, Sarajevo, 01-03 April 2014.  Sponsored by the World Health Organization EURO Regional Office, the workshop was ably organized by Mirza Muminovic and Damir Lazic from the WHO Country Office.  The planning and logistics were complicated with the need to have equal representation from the three sectors within the country.  The venue for the workshop was very acceptable along with the reliable access to the Internet including the wifi connection.  All the breaks and lunch were held in the hotel; in fact, the staff brought the afternoon coffee to the conference room.

The trainers were Lenny Rhine (Librarians Without Borders®) and Mohamed Atani (United Nations Environment Programme - UNEP) and they were assisted by Karin Saric (University of Southern California Norris Medical Library).  Not only did Karin ably assist as a facilitator when the participants were completing their assignments but she also taught several modules including the complex evidence based medicine one.  Plus she can speak Serbo-Croatian!

The program included Internet searching (Boolean searching, Google vs. Scholar), health/environment resources on the Internet, HINARI and OARE websites, Research4Life (R4L) programmes – similarities and differences, Summon search engine (the future for all programmes), HINARI/PubMed – all facets, Environmental Issues and Policy Index (participants split up during this part), E-book resources for HINARI and OARE users and Evidence-based practice resources for HINARI users (both include other resources on the Internet), Advocacy for Research4Life programmes (focusing on marketing), review of programmes (training material, HINARI/OARE – the basics and access problems and solutions plus R4L do’s and don’ts).  Several of the modules were taught from the HINARI perspective but contained specific OARE-related exercises.

The participants were a mix of individuals from hospitals, health centers, universities and institutes from the three sectors of the country.  This was fairly broad group of participants with several physicians, researchers and health information personnel.  It included 5 or 6 individuals without formal library training who were responsible for (or just had become responsible for) health libraries.  Consequently, the trainers felt that it was essential that we made sure everyone understood all the ‘resources’ including those on the Internet plus the broad perspective/background of the R4L programs and also the options for marketing this information at their institutions.  

Due to the library related responsibilities of numerous participants, the trainers emphasized the marketing module and this was reflected in the excellent ‘exercises’ presentations by the various groups.  Also, we focused on the information about the Group B Research4Life eligibility option – accessible material, how to register and payment issues for 2014 and/or 2015.   Our goal was to insure that this was understood by the participants.  We have been communicating with several institutions – to assist with their registration and payment.

Overall, the participants worked steadily and completed all the assignments in a timely fashion.  For those that attended the workshop, there was no problem with the material being taught in English.

The focus of the workshop and the participants’ ability to complete the assignments was reflected in the results of the post-workshop survey.  Almost all the participants (15 out of 16) ‘agreed’ that the instructional material was effective and relevant/useful, the session was well organized and met the participant’s expectations.  Similar scores were noted for the trainers’ knowledge and organization, effectiveness as presenters and responsiveness to questions.  12 individuals ‘agreed’ that the length was appropriate, 2 ‘somewhat agreed’ and 1 ‘disagreed somewhat.’  The spread for the responses to this question usually is broader.  These results are a reflection of the relevancy of the training material and also the abilities of the participants to successfully complete the exercises.

As noted this workshop was a Research4Life program.  Only two of the 16 were primary users of OARE and they did receive specific training on searching the Environmental Index (EBSCO) and also had OARE related assignments during almost all the modules.   During the workshop, Mr. Atani visited the UNEP country office and learned that there is a multi-agency UNEP project in the country.  From these agencies, there potentially would have been a number of participants.  Our goal is to have these institutions register for OARE and then conduct a distance learning course with the key individuals.  This will give them the baseline skills necessary to utilize the material available via OARE.

Several ‘selected’ individuals did not attend due to limited English skills.  This was disappointing to all the trainers as well as the WHO staff.  Mirza and Damir would have been able to summarize in the local language and these individuals and their institutions would have benefitted from the workshop.

Montenegro (April 8-10, 2014)

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The HINARI Train the Trainer’s workshop was conducted at the Hotel Apart, Podgorica, April 8-10, 2014.  Sponsored by the World Health Organization EURO Regional Office, the workshop was organized by Mina Brajovic,  Head of Country Office and  Darja Radovic, Administrative Assistant with the logistical assistance coordinated by MROSS Travel particularly Peota Martinovic - who insured that everything was in order throughout the workshop.  The venue was the 7th floor of the hotel that included a good conference room, a dining room that was 20 meters away and a lovely view of the city from the balcony.  The Internet and wifi access were very reliable throughout the program.  (Note – in 7+ years of conducting workshops, the hotel was the nicest that I stayed in.)

The trainers were Lenny Rhine (Librarians Without Borders®) and Karin Saric (University of Southern California Norris Medical Library).  Karin had assisted in the previous workshop and, for the second one, was able to take on a larger teaching role.  This included teaching the HINARI website, PubMed filters, Plagiarism and the key Evidence-based medicine module.  The last was invaluable for the participants and she also developing a presentation on evidence based resources for public health.

The program included Internet searching (Boolean searching, Google vs. Scholar), health resources on the Internet, HINARI website, R4L programmes – similarities and differences, Summon search engine, HINARI/PubMed – all facets,  E-book resources for HINARI users and Evidence-based practice resources for HINARI users (both include resources on the Internet) and a review of HINARI (training material, HINARI – the basics and access problems and solutions plus R4L do’s and don’ts).  The final day of this workshop focused on authorship skills (how to read and write a scientific paper, plagiarism, web-bibliography – Internet resources - and the Zotero Bibliographic/Reference Management Software).

Also, we thoroughly discussed the information about the Group B Research4Life eligibility option – accessible material, how to register and payment issues for 2014 and/or 2015.  This was critical because only 5 institutions in Montenegro have registered for HINARI and only one has paid the fee for 2014.  There is considerable ongoing communication about these issues as we are developing documentation to assist the participants in obtaining the required funding from their institutions.

Similarly to the previous workshop, the 21 participants were a mix of physicians/clinicians, librarians and IT staff from various clinical centers, institutes (child diseases, public health), agencies (medicines and medical devices) and the University of Montenegro (faculty and staff).

This workshop had a rapid pace like few others that I have taught.  The instructors would complete a ppt presentation and assign the exercises.  10-15 minutes later, there would be talking in the room as the participants had completed the assignments.  This was true for all the participants - clinicians, researchers, IT personnel, librarians. We consistently were 1 or 2 modules ahead of the program at the end of the day and this allowed considerable time for authorship skills material and particularly Zotero.

There was continual and very positive interaction between all the participants and the instructors (cohesive group, assisted each other, had fun learning).  On the 3rd day, the participants suggested Internet sites that were useful /relevant for their colleagues.  This included several evidence-based medicine presentations in Serbo-Croatian and several databases with European thesis information (thanks to Marija Palibrk).

We focused on skills development as this was a group with significant pre-workshop knowledge and ability to work rapidly at the same pace.  For Zotero, the participants completed more than any other group – downloading the program, using the features and installing the footnote Plugin for Word.  When some of the individuals finished installing the Plugin, they assisted the others.

The survey results were the most uniform and positive from any workshop.  From the 17 responses, the ‘agree’ answer was chosen by all for most of the survey questions.  For the ‘appropriate length’ question, 16 answered ‘agree’ and 1 noted ‘somewhat agree.’  The same number ranked the session ‘5’ – the highest score.   As in the previous workshop, this is a reflection on the ability of the participants and the focus on skills that were relevant to their information needs and positions.

After the workshop, we spent time working with Mina Brajovic – to develop advanced searching skills for her thesis and also master Zotero.

Tanzania and Zanzibar (October, 2014)

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The initial part of this trip was participation at the Association of Health Information and Libraries in Africa 14th Congress. From 20-24 October 2014, the Congress was held at the Julius Nyerere Conference Center in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.  Other MLA members who attended were Anne Seymour and Preet Rama. 

LWB® principal contribution to this Congress was a six hour workshop that was one of the two courses held on 24 October.  The day-long activities focused on the Research4Life authorship skills modules (how to read and write a scientific paper, copyright and plagiarism, web-resources and a brief overview of Mendeley and Zotero), a HINARI & Research4Life update (predominantly about the new training portals and the Summon Search option) and a HINARI Users’ meeting.  This meeting was chaired by Gaby Caro, WHO/Geneva and Blessing Chataira, ITOCA who is the chair of the African Advisory Group.  Also a special thanks to Preet Rana for teaching the plagiarism module. 

Forty-five individuals attended the day long workshop.  It was held in a large conference room that could seat 300.  This was not the optimal teaching situation and, to a certain degree, limited the interaction with the participants.   Besides the lectures, we completed some of the ‘hands on’ activities.  Feedback from individuals is that most everyone found several of the authorship skills modules to be relevant and useful although the importance of a specific module depended on the participant’s interest.  Also, the information obtained from the users’ meeting was quite useful to the Gaby, Blessing and me (especially comments pertaining to the training materials). 

Other activities included the presentation of a paper (with Blessing Chataira) titled HINARI/Research4Life Post Workshop Output Survey - Results and Observations and participating in the Elsevier Foundation’ panel, Mapping Health Information to Improved Health Outcomes? A Discussion with Elsevier Foundation Projects.

While the themes of the Congress are somewhat different (e.g. ICTS and health information and knowledge management systems for sustainable development, Bringing health information and knowledge to Africa’s rural communities through partnership and community engagement), many of the topics and presentations parallel what would be discussed at an MLA meeting.  What is most interesting is that there are so many parallels between medical librarianship in low-income and developed countries.  Often, the basic difference is one of resources available but the issues are very similar. 

Another aspect of the Congress that was invaluable was the networking and communication between the participants, the AHILA officers and HINARI related staff.  These interactions will be vital for future activities.  For example, we are discussing the possibility AHILA sponsoring Research4Life distance learning courses. 

After the AHILA conference, a 2 and 1/2 day National HINARI Training Course was conducted at the College of Health Sciences (CHS), Zanzibar 27-29 October 2014. This workshop was the 2nd conducted in Zanzibar with the previous being August, 2007.   It was supported by the WHO/AFRO Regional Office and LWB® and hosted by CHS. The instructor was Lenny Rhine, Coordinator - E-Library Training Initiative/LWB.  Local arrangements were ably coordinated and facilitated by Amour Kassim Amour, Zonal Health Resource Centre Coordinator/MOH (Zanzibar) and technical support was superbly handled by Ahmed Suleiman Seif, IT support staff (CHS).

Prior to the workshop, MR. Seif and his staff set up 12 new workstations with Internet access in the computer room.  Between these machines and laptops brought by participants, each individual had his or her own computer to use.  The Internet access was a solid B+ (sufficient speed to complete all the assignments with one slow period and one 15 minute delay for the last online exercise).  Plus the electricity was reliable until 11:00 AM on the final day – when I handed out the workshop surveys.

The 23 participants for the workshop were predominantly from the CHS with a majority being lecturers but also included several library and administrative staff.  Other participants were from the Zanzibar School of Health, State University of Zanzibar and the Ministry of Health including the Hospital and predominantly were librarians and IT staff. 

In the 2 ½ day workshop, the principal modules covered were searching skills, evaluation of health information on the Internet, HINARI website, HINARI/PubMed (website, filters, history, and advanced search), MY NCBI accounts, e-books resources for HINARI users and evidence-based practice resources for HINARI users (the last two – included material from HINARI and the Internet.  Also summarized were the similarities and differences of the R4L programs, the material on the new Research4Life training portal and the revised material on the HINARI training portal plus a quick summary of marketing.

While this was a significant amount of material for a somewhat condensed 2 ½ day workshop, most of the participants were able to complete all the exercises in a timely fashion.  This also was a very positive group to work with as there was significant interaction (non-verbal and verbal) between the participants and the instructor.  Of particular interest to the lecturers and librarians were the various online resources to full-text e-books (see  These resources will be most useful for the upgrading of lecture material and assignments for students.

The success of the workshop is noted in the surveys which also is a reflection of the interest in the material and how it can be utilized within their institutions.   Almost all the participants ‘agreed’ that the workshop was well organized, had relevant material with useful ‘hands-on’ exercises and resulted in their obtaining useful knowledge and skills.  There were a broader reply to the length of the workshop with two thirds the participants replying ‘agree’ and the other third ‘somewhat agree’.  The most common reason for this is the range of participants’ knowledge prior to the workshop and there was a reasonable range with this variable.  The group included several of the College’s administrative staff (e.g. bursar, registrar) which was unique.   These individuals will not necessarily use the HINARI related skills on a daily basis but now they have a broader perspective on the educational aspects of the College.

Cambodia (December 9-11, 2014)

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National HINARI Training the Trainer Workshop, University of Health Sciences, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

This three-day workshop was conducted at the Computer Lab of the University of Health Sciences (UHS).  It was supported by the WHO/Regional Office for the Western Pacific (WPRO) and Librarians Without Borders®/Medical Library Association (LWB) and hosted by UHS. The instructors were Lenny Rhine, LWB and Mark Bendo, WPRO.  Local arrangements were coordinated and facilitated by Dr. Khim Keovathanak (UHS) and Dr. Indrajit Hazarika (Office of the WHO Representative in Cambodia).  Without their assistance, the successful logistics of this workshop would not have achieved.  Also Dr. Keovathanak and Dr. Ith Ponndara ably completed the translations of the training Modules and also served as facilitators. 

The 36 participants for the workshop were from public and private institutions as both groups are eligible for HINARI.  Participants were from the UHS, TSMC, Medical School for the Royal Cambodian Army, National Center for Health Promotion, National Institute of Public Health, Ministry of Health, Khmer-Soviet Hospital, Puthisasatra University, International University, Norton University and four Regional Training Centers (Battambang, Steung Treng, Kampot and Kampong Cham).   Many of these institutions listed had two or three participants at the training.  The makeup of the group was a mix of lecturers, administrators and librarians.

The Regional Training Centers were not registered for HINARI but this was completed by the end of the workshop and the contacts now have received their institutional Username and Password.  In several other cases, HINARI use was dormant at the institutions and the participants did not have their current  usernames and addresses.  The workshop participants have supplied names of new contacts (director, librarian, IT staff) to HINARI/Geneva and the program has sent these individuals the institutions’ usernames and passwords.

In the three day workshop, the goal was to have the participants learn the critical skills of HINARI and be able to conduct training to the various target groups at their respective institutions.  Institutions in Cambodia have access to all HINARI publishers except one so that there is a wealth of information currently available to the users.  

The modules covered were searching skills, evaluation of health information on the Internet, HINARI portal, HINARI/PubMed (website, filters, history and advanced search), MY NCBI accounts, e-books resources for HINARI users, EndNote reference management software plus an overview of Mendeley, authorship skills (How to read and write a scientific paper, Web-bibliography including AuthorAID website), the alternate Summon search tool and marketing of HINARI resources.  Also summarized was the Research4Life and HINARI training portals and a discussion of ‘access problems and solutions’.

The marketing module is essential and the participants began to develop plans for the follow-up training at their institutions.  After six months, they will receive a survey that ‘evaluates’ their outcomes.  This training requirement was emphasized by Rector Prof.  Saphonn Vonthanak in his workshop closing remarks.

Of particular interest to the lecturers and librarians were the various Internet based resources to full-text e-books (see, Booksee and Google Books).  These resources supplant what is available via HINARI and will be most useful for the upgrading of lecture material and assignments for students.

Conducting the workshop was ‘complex’ but, as Shakespeare said, ‘All is well that ends well.’  There were three variables that made this a somewhat more complicated workshop:  insufficient Internet access on day one, the requirement of translation for approximately 1/3 the participants and the large number of participants.  During the first day, we had to reorganize the program and teach ‘non-Internet reliant’ modules plus incorporate the use of the translators.  All this was resolved by the second day.  With very reliable Internet the 2nd day and the integration of translated summaries, we were able to complete six ‘Internet intensive’ modules that have numerous ‘hands-on’ exercises.  Consequently, we covered much of the key material during this day.  The instructors, translators and participants were quite tired by the end of this intense day of training.  The reliable Internet access also was available the third day and this was critical for the full-text e-books module although most of that day was devoted to the reference management softwares and the marketing activities.

The workshop covered an extensive amount of information in three days.  This achievement reflects on the dedicated work of the students who were flexible (especially with the program changes during the first day) and hard working. 

The overall success of the workshop is noted in the surveys.  A vast majority of the participants ‘agreed’ that the instructional materials were relevant, the hands on sessions were useful, trainers were knowledgeable, effective presenters and responsive to questions.  There is more of a mix (2/3 ‘agreed’ 1/3 ‘somewhat agreed’) in the responses to the session content being well organized, length being appropriate for course content and instructional materials being used effective.  Perhaps this is an indication of the ‘complex’ nature of the workshop – as material was taught ‘out of order’ and the program underwent significant daily changes plus the large number of participants.  Regardless, the components of the workshop were taught and absorbed successfully by the participants.  With the six-month outcomes survey, we will be able to better assess this.

Note: please read the individual comments on the survey tabulation page; these participants had much more detailed and informative remarks than other groups.  Several key points have been bolded and are noted below:

  1. Teaching hospitals should be invited; hospitals
  2. If the steps in the exercises were translated to Khmer, it would help some participants who are weak in English; translate all these workshops into Khmer; then easy to promote HINARI to everybody

I would be pleased to work with a task force to develop a basic course for hospital staff – it would emphasize the basics of HINARI, PubMed searching and evidence based medicine resources in both HINARI and the Internet.  Maybe… the exercises could be translated to Khmer.  Let us begin a discussion on this possibility.

The comments also reinforce the need for continued communication between the participants (e.g. email, facebook suggestion…).  I know Mark and I will answer any questions that come to us.  I will send all the email address to the Research4Life dgroup listserv so they will be added to this listserv and get periodic updates on the programs.

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