May 17, 2006

Iraqi scientists will get virtual library

Initative started by US scientists creates a public/private initiative to provide servers, software and training.
Before Hussein’s rule, the majority of the Iraqi government’s ministers were well-regarded scientists, physicians and engineers. Today, Iraq’s research libraries stand looted and impoverished.

The U.S. scientists realized that Iraqi institutions would need a virtual library to help make up for years of isolation. The latest information is not in textbooks; it is online. Moreover, rebuilding physical libraries would be too costly, and entering physical libraries would be unsafe.

The scientists sent a memo to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell, requesting permission for the Iraqi Virtual Science Library (IVSL). He endorsed the project, adding a note of encouragement. The State Department and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency began funding the introduction of the first phase of the $362,000 program: a digital science library hosted in the United States and accessible to most of Iraq’s academic and research institutions. The portal, launched in January, provides about 80 percent of Iraq’s educational base with access to more than 17,000 science, engineering and computer science journals. Publishers contributed $11 million worth of online subscriptions.

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