Continuing its vigorous international marketing program, EBSCO Publishing (http://www.epnet.com) has joined with the Open Society Institute, a part of the Soros Foundations Network, to create the Electronic Information for Libraries Direct (EIFL Direct) consortium. The largest information consortium in the world, EIFL Direct encompasses libraries in 39 countries. It opens up access to EBSCO Publishing's range of full-text scholarly and general interest journals.
Included in the consortium are 27 countries in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, 10 countries in Southern Africa, and both Guatemala and Haiti. Within these countries, EIFL Direct invites participation from all types of libraries: academic, noncorporate research, medical, national, and public.
Under the EIFL Direct arrangement, EBSCO Publishing will supply five databases: Academic Search Elite, Business Source Premier, MasterFILE Premier, Newspaper Source, and Comprehensive MEDLINE with FullTEXT. Together, these five files contain full text from over 300,000 articles from 3,200 unique journals, magazines, newspapers, and newswires, as well as over 1,300 full-text brochures and reference books. Scholarly journals in the collection cover humanities, social sciences, education, business, and medicine. The program will tailor access format to the available technology—Web, CD-ROM, or DVD-ROM—of each participating library.
The colorful George Soros, Hungarian Holocaust survivor, naturalized U.S. citizen, currency speculator, and creative philanthropist, donated over $500 million to Central and Eastern Europe in 1998 alone. The philanthropy he has administered through the Open Society Institute has caused some controversy; this year, for example, he began major funding to support decriminalization of drugs in the U.S. and abroad.
Soros created the Soros Foundations Network to build free and open societies by supporting an array of activities dealing with art and culture, the strengthening of civil society, economic reform, education, human rights, legal reform and public administration, media and communications, and public health. The Soros Foundation Network has actively supported library development with over $40 million in funding since 1994 for automation, training, preservation, access, collection development, and improved user service. It sees libraries as a major impetus for information dissemination and support for democratic societies. With print journal collections remaining poor in the area, however, the network sees electronic journals as the "only viable and sustainable option for the future," according to the EBSCO Publishing press release.
Michael Kay, director of electronic publishing for the Open Society Institute (OSI), saluted the new EIFL Direct consortium. "We are making history," he said. "Many of the countries that we served previously had very limited access to the wealth of information available from international scholarly journals. This initiative now gives instant electronic access to scholars, policymakers, and the general public. It will greatly assist these countries' accession into the international information society."
The Open Society Institute has offices in the U.S., Russia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Slovenia. It has funded such programs as the Center on Crime, Communities, and Culture; the Emma Lazarus Fund; Lindesmith Center; Project on Death in America; Burma Project Central; Eurasia Project; Forced Migration Projects; International Soros Science Education Program; Landmines Project; Soros Documentary Fund; Southern Africa Project Chair's Grants; and Presidential Grants.
EBSCO Publishing is part of the EBSCO Information Services group, which also encompasses EBSCO Subscription Services. EBSCO Publishing markets its services actively outside the U.S. Over the past year and a half, it has expanded its sales offices in Australia, Brazil, France, Japan, China, Colombia, India, Taiwan, and the U.K.