When it was set up in May last year, the Electronic Library Program (ProBE in the Portuguese acronym) made available through the Internet to researchers at the three state universities in São Paulo and the two federal universities located in the state, the São Carlos Federal University and the São Paulo Federal University and the Bireme (Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Science Information), a collection of 606 scientific magazines published by the Dutch company Elsevier Science Inc. on the Internet. Just over a year later, the electronic service now has 841 titles available after including publications by the American publishing house Academic Press and High Wire Press and making them available to teachers and graduate and postgraduate students. But the most important thing is that part of this scientific collection, that of Elseviers is already beginning to be made available to the professionals of the 15 state and federal research institutes in the State, benefiting 7,578 researchers. Many of them, for lack of funds in their own institutions, had no access to any international scientific publication.
This was the case, for example, of the 159 researchers of the Biological Institute of the Department of Agriculture and Supplies. “We had no print subscriptions and no money for them. To undertake consultations, most researchers had to go to the University of São Paulo”, says Silvia Helena Marques, the institute’s librarian. The same thing happened with the 564 professionals of the Dante Pazzanese Cardiology Institute, of the State Health Department, which also had no subscription to any of Elsevier’s publications. “When necessary, we turned to Bireme”, says Anna Simene Leite Gonçalves, who is in charge of the library. Nowadays, through the ProBE, the institute’s clinical staff and researchers have access to specialized magazines in cardiology, nursing and hospital management.”
The ProBE is the result of a Consortium of Institutional Cooperation that gathers FAPESP, the University of (USP), The São Paulo State University Júlio de Mesquita Filho (Unesp), the Campinas State University (Unicamp), the São Carlos Federal University (UFSCar), the São Paulo Federal University (Unifesp) and the Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Science Information. The research institutes created the consortium through agreements signed in June 2000. The Foundation is responsible for the hardware and software infrastructure needed for setting up and operating the electronic library as well as for the magazine database.
Benefiting researchers, by providing fast access to the international scientific information required for their professional qualifications and their keeping updated, the ProBE also benefits the institutions, which save on the number of print subscriptions. “The cost of the electronic subscription is only 15% of that of print subscriptions”, compares Rosaly Favero Krzyzanowski, the program’s operational coordinator. In her opinion, electronic access has the advantage of allowing simultaneous consultation, optimizing the cost benefit ratio per subscription to scientific journals.
The institutions in the consortium, for example, also have an average of two subscriptions to Elsevier’s 606 titles, at a cost of R$ 2.6 million. The electronic subscription to the same titles, without the need for duplication, goes for R$ 398,000. The amount is proportional to the number of users and the control of the number of consultations is done through the IP (Internet Protocol Number) of each user in the member institutions of the consortium. And the contract with the publishers allows articles to be printed and copied for research purposes.
The universities and research institutes will maintain print subscriptions to the magazines for three years, during which time the program will assess user satisfaction.
Further rationalizing and speeding up of access to scientific information are among ProBE’s objectives. Thus, since June, the CD-ROMs with all the editorial content of the three publishers were installed on the ANSP –Academic Network at São Paulo, at FAPESP’s offices. Access to any of the publications, therefore, does away with the need for an international call. And, what is more, as from September, all 841 publications of the three publishers will be organized in a portal, allowing consultation by subject.
The program also provides for the development of tools allowing links with articles cited on the Web of Science, of the Institute for Scientific Information (ISI) – a database with summaries, references, and quotations of articles published in around 8,400 international scientific journals that has been in existence since 1974. “We are also studying whether to increase the number of publishers, in order to include magazines relating to the field of the Human Sciences, which have not been included so far”, adds Rosaly.
At present, around 11,590 teachers and researchers and 114,483 graduate and postgraduate students can look up articles of interest through the Intranet, based on computers installed in their own work areas, in the 86 libraries of the member institutions of the consortium or, in some cases, the researcher’s home.
The ProBE is run by a committee that coordinates the introduction, operation, maintenance, training, and assessment of the use the Electronic Library and decides on subscriptions to magazines and on the entry of new partners in the consortium. Public or private institutions undertaking teaching and research are qualified to take part in the program provided that they have potential users with research projects underway; that they undertake lines of research with scientific production; that they have people trained to run access to the ProBE; that they offer titles that add to the program; and that they contribute a minimum of 3% of the value of the Electronic Library collection. “There are already several universities interested”, says Rosaly Krzyzanowski.
Research institutes subscribing to the ProBE
• Aeronautics Technological Center (CTA/ITA)
• Nuclear and Energy Research Institute – IPEN
• National Space Research Institute (Inpe)
• Hospital das Clínicas Heart Institute (Incor)
• Synchrotron Light Laboratory
• Technological Research Institute of the State of São Paulo (IPT)
• Food Technology Institute (Ital)
• Dante Pazzanese Cardiology Institute
• São Paulo Forestry Institute
• Biological Institute
• Geological Institute (SMA/SP)
• Zootechny Institute
• Emílio Ribas Infectious Disease Institute
• Campinas Agronomic Institute
• State Data Analysis System Foundation (SEADE)