A Selective Guide to Information Resources

Completed by:Angie L. Gerrard
For LIS 582 - April 2000

Introduction | Development Agencies | Information Access & Intellectual Freedom | Library Partnerships |
Librarianship in Developing Countries | Literacy | Book Donation Programs | Information Technologies |
The Role of the Internet | The Role of the Packet Radio | Women, Technology and Development


This site was created as a term project for the course entitled Globalization, Diversity, and Information, offered by Hope Olson at the University of Alberta's School of Library and Information Studies.

My motivation in creating this web site was to provide an extensive, although by no means exhaustive, list of resources that exist on the topic of globalization, information, and developing countries. My educational background is in Library Studies, Sociology, and Women and Gender Studies. I comment on this as I believe that a critical overview of this site can only be undertaken when you the reader have a sense of the position that I am writing from.

I would also like to discuss certain terminology that is used throughout this web site. The increased level of global awareness has shifted the terminology that has been assigned to certain countries when discussing their status on the world stage. For example, there has been a visible shift in the replacing the term Third World Countries with Developing Countries. I use the term developing countries in this web site when I refer to countries that have such characteristics as widespread poverty, debt, and illiteracy. There are obvious problems with the using the term "developing countries". Some now refer to these countries as simply the "the South". This term as well has its problems. It is therefore too simplistic to refer to countries as either developed or developing, or as the North or the South, as this dichotomous relationship can not adequately define the grey area that lies in between these two polar concepts.

So what is globalization ? There is not a definitive source that exists that can adequately define what globalization really is. Rather many different subject areas compose this abstract concept, including economics, politics, history, cultural studies, sociology, linguistics, technology, and gender studies.

A.S. Bhalla (1998) introduces the book, Globalization, Growth, and Marginalization with a discussion of seven key features of globalization: growth in trade, growth in foreign direct investment and capital flows, global production and consumption, global competition, trade and investment liberalization policies, loss of national sovereignty, and standardization of values and culture (1) .

Robert W. McChesney (1998) presents a similiar economic view of globalization in the introduction to his essay "The Political Economy of Global Communication" in the book Capitalism and the Information Age: The Political Economy of the Global Communication Revolution. He states that:

Globalization may well be the dominant political, social, and economic issue of our era. Globalization generally refers to the process whereby capitalism is increasingly constituted on a transnational basis, not only in the trade of goods and services but, even more important, in the flow of capital and the trade in currencies and financial investments (2).

Other definitions of globalization can be found at these sites: African Development Forum 1999 and Globalization: Our Changing World

The backlash to globalization has made headlines in the past year as protestors have taken to the streets at both the November 1999 World Trade Organization (WTO) meeting held in Seattle, and at the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meeting in Washington in April 2000. The anti-globalization movement strives to undercover the disturbing truths about the harsh economic and social realities that globalization imposes on developing countries. Globalization dramatically affects the already economically strained developing countries through foreign policies such as structural adjustment programs (SAP), where developing countries are encouraged to adjust their economic structures to better suit to the needs of the private sector. SAPs require developing countries to reduce government spending, end public subsidies, devalue their currency, adopt export-oriented trade policies, as well as remove trade and exchange controls and raise interest rates to reward foreign investors (3). For more information about the effects of globalization on developing countries, read the following articles:
Wild Weekend of Globalization Protests in U.S. Capitol
Corporate Watch - Globalization and Corporate Rule (provides links to other useful sections)
True Intent Behind Globalization
Will Globalization Facilitate Development?
A Survey of the Impacts of IMF Structural Adjustment in Africa

Some of the only many problems faced by lesser developed countries include widespread poverty, high illiteracy rates, intense foreign debt, overpopulation, and reliance on the agricultural sector. Information can play a major role in the alleviation of these problems. Information, primarily agricultural, medical, and technological, can help to create stronger social, economic, and technical infrastructures needed to support the development process (4). As UNESCO states in its Medium-term Plan (1984-1989):

The possession and use of knowledge are essential factors for progress. Information, the communicable form of knowledge,... ...has therefore come to be recognized as one of the main prerequisites for economic and social development. It is an indispensable factor in the rational use of natural resources, scientific and technological advancement, progress in agriculture, industry and services.... ...Consequently, assimilation of scientific and technological information is an essential precondition for progress in developing countries (5) (emphasis added).

The provision of information and the access to information therefore, is a key to the success of any nation. One of the most important roles that libraries and librarians play in society is providing access to information. As Sarah Ann Long, President of the American Library Association (ALA) states, "libraries build community, but today's community is a global one" (6). The vital role of providing access to information is therefore directly affected by globalization. Globalization has resulted in the rapid spread of technology and ideas at a pace the world has never experienced before. Globalization in this Information Age is seen by some as the most progressive global movement since the Industrial Revolution. The Internet has enabled this "Global Village" to be truly "connected" twenty hours a day, seven days a week.

We know that information plays a vital role in the lives of all people across the globe. Access to information therefore becomes the key. Isolation is a fundamental problem when discussing the idea of access. How do people in the developing world access the proverbial "information superhighway", when they do not even have access to adequate roads ? What happens to those countries that are lacking any form of a technological infrastructure ? What happens to those countries where there are not adequate libraries where people can access information ? What happens is that the information gap between developed countries and lesser developed countries widens daily. Some now refer to this dichotomy of the have's and have not's, not as developed and developing countries, but rather as information rich or information poor countries.

Some development agencies are attempting to help these information poor countries "catch-up" by providing access to basic necessities while at the same time trying to provide an environment for the establishment of technological growth. Libraries are also attempting to help out be assisting with various information-based development projects.

The purpose of this site is to provide a selective guide to resources that are available on the Internet and at the University of Alberta Library that discuss these issues relating to globalization, information, and developing countries. Again, I want to stress that this is not an exhaustive bibliography of information on this topic. Rather, this listing of information resources acts only as a starting point for readers that are interested in exploring this topic.

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International Development Agencies and Organizations

Many international development agencies and organizations, both governmental and nongovernmental, participate in information and library-related programs and publications primarily aimed at developing countries. This is a small listing of only a few of the many development agencies and organizations that assist in providing these programs and publications.

Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) - Canada
Department of International Development - United Kingdom
International Development Research Centre (IDRC) - Canada
Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
United Nations (UN)
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
The World Bank's International Development Association (IDA)
The World Health Organization (WHO)

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Information Access and Intellectual Freedom

Access to information is a fundamental right to all people. These rights include the freedom of expression and the freedom of opinion. These rights are guaranteed by both international and national documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom. This section provides links to several of these types of documents.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights - Article 19
Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Canadian Libary Association Position Statement on Intellectual Freedom
UN's Administrative Committee on Coordination "Statement on Universal Access to Basic Communication and Information Services"
The Right to Information: Is It Possible for Developing Countries? (IFLA)
"Intellectual Freedom: A Global Perspective" Papers presented at the 1999 American Library Association Annual Conference
A Global Approach: The Right to Information
Access to Information in Developing Countries (Transparency International Working Paper)
International Instruments for Access to Information for All (IFLA)

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Library Associations and Partnerships

This is a selective list of some library associations that are striving to promote a more global perspective on libraries and library service. These associations also encourage library-related co-operation and dialogue across borders. As Barbara J. Ford, Past President of the American Library Association, states "ours is a small world, and the global reach and local touch of libraries helps librarians bring the world to their communities.... Regardless of geographical location, nationality, and ethnicity, librarians are examining similiar issues while striving to meet the information needs of their users" (7).

International Association of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA)
The World Library Partnership
UNESCO Network of Associated Libraries
Canadian Library Association's Interest Group on the Third World
American Library Association's Global Reach Local Touch Campaign
The Sister Library Program An Initiative of the American Library Association (ALA)
The Humanity Libraries Project

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Librarianship in Developing Countries

This collection of material provides information on promoting the success and sustainability of libraries and librarianship in developing countries.

The World Library Partnership Resource Database
Libraries for All: How to Start and Run a Basic Library
IFLA Core Programme for the Advancement of Librarianship (ALP)
Job Satisfaction of the Librarians in the Developing Countries (IFLA)
Developing New Information Products: A Revised Role for Librarianship in Advanced and Developing Countries (IFLA)
Which Institutions are Supporting Librarianship in the Developing Countries? (IFLA)
North-South Library Cooperation: Some Consideration (IFLA)
Human Resource Development and Training: A Social Responsibility Against Information Poverty by Information Schools (IFLA)
The Electronic Information Gap (IFLA)
A Librarian's Guide to Global Programming for a Sustainable Future (ALA)
New Ways to Serve the Library User: A Global Perspective The Proceedings of the Annual Program of the International Relations Round Table and the International Relations Committee of the American Library Association Washington, D. C., June 1998.

Printed Material:

Amadi, Adolphe O. African Libraries: Western Tradition and Colonial Brainwashing. London: Scarecrow Press, 1981.

Asheim, Lester Eugene. Librarianship in the Developing Countries. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1966.

McCook, Kathleen de la Pena, Barbara J. Ford, and Kate Lippincott. Libraries: Global Reach - Local Touch. Chicago: American Library Association, 1998.

Sturges, Paul and Richard Neill. The Quiet Struggle: Information and Libraries for the People of Africa. 2nd edition, Washington: Mansell Publishing, 1998.

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Literacy and Oral Tradition in Developing Countries

The material in this section discusses the importance of developing literacy skills, while preserving oral cultures, in developing countries. According to UNESCO Statistics (2000), the estimated illiteracy rate in developing countries is 26.3 % and 49.3% in the least developed countries (aged 15 years and over)(8). The development of literacy skills is therefore paramount to the development of a community. Libraries, schools, and other information sources are vital in supporting this development. It is also important to note that many of these lesser developed countries are oral-based cultures. With this, there needs to be a collaborative process of creating a learning environment that links learning with indigenous knowledge via oral traditions. This important cultural tradition must be recognized, celebrated, and preserved for the benefit of present and future generations.

Building a Literate Environment: Using Oral-Based Reading Materials to Facilitate Literacy (IFLA) Oral Tradition in Thailand: A Development Perspective (IFLA)
The Importance of Oral Tradition for Children: Case of Countries of the Sahel (IFLA)
Provision of School Library Services by Means of Mobile Libraries - The Zimbabwe Experience (IFLA)
Easy-to-Read - An Important Part of Reading Promotion and In the Fight Against Illiteracy (IFLA) Books For All (IFLA)
CODE (Canadian charitable organization promoting literacy and education in Africa and the Caribbean).

Printed Material:

Barton, David. Sustaining Local Literacies. Philadelphia: Multilingual Matters; Reading: Education for Development, 1994.

Calvert, Philip J. "When Literacy and Oracy Meet." In Libraries: Global Reach - Local Touch. Eds. Kathleen de la Pena McCook,Barbara J. Ford, and Kate Lippincott. Chicago: American Library Association, 1998, 44-49.

Greaney, Vincent. Promoting Reading in Developing Countries. Newark, Del., USA: International Reading Association, 1996.

Iwuji H.O.M. "Librarianship and Oral Tradition in Africa." International Library Review. 22 (1990): 53-59.

Jones, Adele. "Libraries as Centres for Community Literacy." Information Development. 7.2 (1991): 86-88.

Kagan, Alfred. (1982) "Literacy, Libraries, and Underdevelopment--with Special Attention to Tanzania." Africana Journal 13.4 (1982): 1-25.

Knuth, Rebecca. "Family Literacy: A Critical Role for Libraries Worldwide." In Libraries: Global Reach - Local Touch. Eds. Kathleen de la Pena McCook,Barbara J. Ford, and Kate Lippincott. Chicago: American Library Association, 1998, 219-233.

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Book Donation Programs

This is a selective list of organizations who donate books to developing countries in support of education and literacy. Because of the great expense of shipping printed material overseas, specific guidelines must be in place to ensure that developing countries receive material that is both relevant to their needs as well as in good physical condition. Book donation programs must work in parternships with developing countries and organizations within these countries. Book Aid International believes that the provision of books and other reading materials to developing countries gives "people the chance to realise their potential and contribute to the development of their societies" (9).

Book Aid International
Brother's Brother Foundation
Darien Book Aid Plan
Sabre Foundation
The Library Resource Database of the The World Library Partnership also has a international listing of many book donation programs.

Printed Material:

Greenberg, Janet. ACLS Manual for International Book and Journal Donations. New York: American Council of Learned Societies, 1993.

Richards, Tony. "Waste Not, Want Not (Donated Book Programs)." Quill & Quire. 58.8 (1992): 8.

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Information Technologies in Developing Countries

This section addresses the issue of the presence of information technologies (IT) in developing countries. The ways in which IT are being used in developing countries varies depending on the technological infrastructures that are in place. This section also provides links to information that discusses the barriers to IT in developing countries. The two following sections identify two forms of IT, the Internet and the packet radio, both which provide access to information but in very different formats.

Information and Communication Technologies in Development: A UNESCO Perspective
Information Systems for International Development
Global Information Infrastructure and the Question of African Content (IFLA)
Intermediate Technology
Global Information and Libraries in Sub-Saharan Africa
The UNESCO Development of Communication Programme

Printed Material:

Adam, Lishan and Wood, Frances. "An Investigation of the Impact of Information and Communication Technologies in Sub-Saharan Africa." Journal of Information Science. 25.4 (1999): 307-319.

Arunachalam, Subbiah. "Information and Knowledge in the Age of Electronic Communication." Journal of Information Science. 25.6 (1999): 465-476.

Information Technology for Development. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press in association with UNESCO and the UK Council for Computing Development, 1986-.

James, Jeffrey. Globalization, Information Technology and Development. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999.

Mansell, Robin and Uta Wehn. Knowledge Societies: Information Technology for Sustainable Development. New York: Published for and on behalf of the United Nations by Oxford University Press, 1998.

Morales-Gomez, Daniel and Martha Melesse. "Utilising Information and Communication Technologies for Development: The Social Dimensions." Information Technology for Development. 8.1 (1998): 3-13.

Park, Sung-Gwan. ""Disarticulations in the Information Society: Barriers to the Universal Access to Information Highways in Developing Countries." International Information and Library Review. 29: (1997): 189-199.

Riggs, Donald E. "The Influence of Information Technology Infrastructure and Policies on Library Services in Developing Countries." In Libraries: Global Reach - Local Touch. Eds. Kathleen de la Pena McCook,Barbara J. Ford, and Kate Lippincott. Chicago: American Library Association, 1998, 195-201.

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The Role of the Internet in Developing Countries

The Internet is defined as "an electronic communications network that connects computer networks and organizational computer facilities around the world" (10). According to Nua, an Internet consulting and development company, as of March 2000 an estimated 304.36 million people worldwide are online (11). Although this number is surprisingly high, it does not reflect the millions of people that are not "connected" such as those in developing countries. This section addresses the presence of the Internet as a catalyst that has the potential to both widen and bridge the information gap.

Internet for the Third World - Chance or Threat?
A Preliminary Model of Internet Diffusion within Developing Countries
The Internet and Rural Development: Recommendations for Strategy and Activity
The Internet as a Tool for Social Development
Internet in Developing Countries: The Case of Brazil
How the Internet is Failing the Developing World
Third World Web: What will the Internet Mean for Africa?
The Internet and Its Potential for Libraries in Developing Countries

Printed Material:

Braun, Esther. "Internet: A Tool for Sustainable Human Development?" UN Chronicle. 36.2 (1999): 76-77.

Chepesiuk, Ron. "Bringing the Internet to the Developing World." American Libraries. 29.8 (1998): 57.

Everett, Margaret. "Latin America On-Line: The Internet, Development, and Democratization." Human Organization. 57.4 (1998): 385-393.

Mueller, Milton. "Emerging Internet Infrastructures Worldwide." Communications of the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery). 42.6 (1999): 29-30.

Petrazzini, Ben and Mugo Kibati. "The Internet in Developing Countries." Communications of the ACM. 42.6 (1999): 36.

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The Role of the Packet Radio in Developing Countries

The packet radio plays an important role in accessing information for those who can not read and by those who do not have access to information sources such as a library or the Internet. Radios are able to reach remote locations that power lines, phone lines or cable lines can not. Because radios are also relatively inexpensive, they are therefore more assessable to more people worldwide. This section provides links to an IFLA paper that specifically addresses the role that packet radios can play in accessing information, as well as a link the packet site.

Packet Radio: Applications for Libraries in Developing Countries (IFLA)
    Chapter One: Introduction
    Chapter Two: Problems in Developing Country Libraries
    Chapter Three: Overview of Packet Radio Technology
    Chapter Four: Packet Radio in Developing Country Libraries
    Chapter Five: Packet Radio Projects
    Chapter Six: Conclusion
Packet Radio Wireless digital communications, the future of computer networking

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Women, Technology and Development

In the past, women have been excluded from the domains of both development and technology. The material presented here attempts to uncover the vital role that women can play in the developmental process through the use of technology.

Supporting Women's Use of Information Technologies for Sustainable Development
Women in Global Science and Technology (WIGSAT)
Knowledge, Technology & Development: A Gendered Perspective

Printed Material:

Appleton, Helen. Do it herself : Women and Technical Innovation. London: Intermediate Technology Publications, 1995.

Bourque, Susan and Kay B. Warren. "Access is Not Enough: Gender Perspectives on Technology and Education", in Persistent Inequalities. Ed. I. Tinker. New York: Oxford University Press, 1990.

Carr, Marilyn. "Technologies for Rural Women: Impact and Dissemination," in Technology and Rural Women: Conceptual and Empirical Issues. Ed. I. Ahmed. London: Allen and Unwin, 1985.

Gender, Technology, and Development. New Delhi: Sage, 1997- .

Mitter, Swasti and Sheila Rowbotham. Women Encounter Technology: Changing Patterns of Employment in the Third World. New York : Routledge, 1995.

Stamp, Patricia. Technology, Gender and Power in Africa. Ottawa : International Development Research Centre, 1990.

Tumwine, Immaculate Wamimbi. "Rural Ugandan Women and the Technological Race to the 21st Century." WE International. 42/43 (1998): 12-14.

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1. Bhalla, A.S. Introduction. Globalization, Growth and Marginalization. Ed. A.S. Bhalla. Ottawa: IDRC, 1998. 1-7.

2. McChesney, Robert W. "The Political Economy of Global Communication." In Capitlasim and the Information Age: The Political Economy of the Global Communication Revolution. Eds. Robert W. McChesney, Ellen Meiksins Wood and John Bellamy Foster. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1998, 1.

3. Swift, Jamie and the Ecumenical Coalition for Economic Justice. "The Debt Crisis: A Case of Global Usury." In Conflicts of Interest: Canada and the Third World. Eds. Jamie Swift and Brian Tomlinson. Toronto: Between the Lines, 1991, 97.

4. Heitzman, J. "Information Systems and Development in the Third World." Information Processing and Management. 26.4 (1990): 489-502.

5.Unesco. "Draft Medium-term Plan (1984-1989)." Second part, VII. Information Systems and Access to Knowledge. General Conference Fourth Extraordinary Session, Paris, 1982, 157.

6. Long, Sarah Ann. "Sister Libraries." Internet publication date unknown. 13 April 2000 (

7. Barbara J. Ford. Quotation taken from the insert booklet "Local Libraries: Global Awareness. A Librarian's Guide to Global Programming for a Sustainable Future." In American Libraries 29.6 (1998).

8.UNESCO Statistical Yearbook. "Estimated Illiteracy Rate and Illiterate Population Aged 15 Years and Over." Internet publication date unknown. 14 April 2000 (

9.Book Aid International. "BOOK AID International." Internet publication date unknown. 12 May 2000 (

10. Merriam-Webster. "WWWebster Dictionary." Internet publication date unknown. 14 April 2000 (

11. Nua. "How Many Online?". Internet publication date unknown. 14 April 2000 (").

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Last updated 16 May 2000