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[SANTIAGO] A new initiative to spread the cost of subscriptions will give Chilean researchers access to a wide variety of electronic science and technology publications. 

Known as the National Library Online, the scheme is a partnership between the Chilean National Commission for Scientific and Technological Research (CONICYT) and the Consortium for Scientific and Technological Information Online (CINCEL).

Payments for annual subscriptions to online science databases, public libraries and journals — which are often unaffordable for one institution — will be pooled under the scheme.

The initiative, launched last week (1 February), will be part-funded by an annual grant of US$2.9 million contributed by CONICYT — which manages Chile's science and technology funding — until 2009. CINCEL's member institutions will contribute half the price of the subscriptions each year. Access will be made available to non-members.

"This shared effort will guarantee all the scientific and technological research centres an equitable access to science sources of information. This is currently a serious flaw noticed by all members of the national system of science, technology and innovation," states a CINCEL press release. 

The online library is similar to Brazil's Periodicos CAPES, which offers 188 higher education and research institutions full access to over 11,000 journals.

The announcement came during an active week for Chilean science. The Millennium Science Initiative Programme announced plans to add five more small research centres and two additional science institutes to its network.

In addition, Chile's National Council of Innovation for Competitiveness — created last year to propose a long-term national strategy for scientific and technological innovation — highlighted 11 areas for investment from the government's budget for innovation (see Chile: minería aportará US$80 millones a innovación).

These include fish and seafood farming, processed food, fruit farming, communications and mining of copper and other resources.