LIBSENSE (Library Support for Embedded NREN Services and E-infrastructure) is a WACREN-led programme aimed at building a community of practice for open science and progressing the adoption of open science services and infrastructures in Africa. Open science is an international trend aimed at sharing the results of research widely. This phenomenon is transforming the way research is done and increasing its value and impact by accelerating the pace of scientific discoveries and expanding the adoption of research outcomes for everyone.
Launched in 2016, LIBSENSE aims to bring together the research and education networks (RENs) and academic library communities to strengthen open access and open science in Africa.
This Africa-wide programme provides an avenue through which different stakeholder communities collaborate to define priority activities, share knowledge, and develop relevant services.
This pan-African effort is making strides towards advancing open science through strengthening and expanding services at the institutional, national and regional levels. LIBSENSE’s approach uses bottom-up, distributed and heterogenous ways to entrench open access and open science in Africa. The programme is all-inclusive; this is demonstrated in the regional dispersal of its communities, the languages for operation, and the cultural nature of its operations and communities.
To achieve LIBSENSE objectives, a key activity was the wide-ranging survey undertaken from September 2018 - March 2019, in each NREN region, and based on the questionnaire on evolving roles of HEI librarians that was piloted in WACREN.
The survey was reframed within the context of the development and maintenance of federated Open Access repositories.
In each region, the survey aimed to:
- Understand the evolving role of the library function in contemporary African higher education institutions (HEIs). This especially meant understanding the role of librarians vis-à-vis digital resources, especially open access repositories (OARs).
- Understand how institutions affecting the higher education sector support or constrain the roles of librarians, especially where these are concerned with digital resource management and implementation. These institutions included national librarian consortia/organisations within the sector directly supporting capacity building initiatives etc.
- Determine how NRENs can work with librarians to support their roles. This included eliciting service requirements that librarians needed to support their roles and other ways in which NRENs could support librarian groups.
- Gather demographic information that would be useful in categorising the librarian communities of practice in African regions so as to understand this evolving field better.