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[CAIRO] Egyptian research could get a higher profile with the creation of a digital library, part of a range of measures aiming to enhance the availability of scientific information.

The United States-based science diplomacy institute the Fulbright Academy of Science and Technology launched the US$60,000 project in early June.

As well as a digital library of locally-produced research, the Egyptian research community will have discounted access to journals produced by leading US scientific societies and international publishing houses, following the model of the Iraqi Virtual Science Library launched in 2006 (see Iraqi scientists get free access to research journals).

A third part of the project includes training in providing and accessing information for librarians, researchers and information professionals.

National Fulbright Alumni Groups — comprising people who have received a Fulbright scholarship — and institutions on both sides of the US–Egypt programme will be involved in the project. 

Egypt has the second-largest Fulbright programme in Africa, with more than 1,600 alumni.

Magdi Tawfik Abdelhamid, a researcher at Cairo's National Research Centre, Egypt, says that to eliminate duplication of efforts, the discounted access of journals should be linked to the web portal of Egyptian Universities Libraries (EUL).

EUL currently provides about 75 per cent of scientists in Egypt access to the full text of around 1,200 journals.

"In an ever-increasing digital age, especially with the harsh economic conditions resulting from the current global financial crisis, virtual libraries are the best choice for increasing the visibility and usability of academic research while lowering costs," Abdelhamid says.