An African dream? E-information services at the University of Pretoria's Veterinary Science Library (Service Unit: Veterinary Science, Academic Information Service)
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This presentation will highlight the need to move to an e-environment for veterinary and animal health information users in Africa. Problems will be featured as well as practical solutions and success stories. The University of Pretoria's e-initiative to extend learning to distance students gave impetus to the introduction of portals -- in various formats. The Academic Information Service, Service Unit: Veterinary Science (the library at the Faculty of Veterinary Science) extended the learning horizon, making information available to users beyond the campus e.g. private practitioners needing information for Continuing Professional Development purposes, post graduate students (including a disabled student as well) doing distance learning courses as well as students in other African countries. Unique products developed for this market will be described, such as the African Goat Web, the Ostrich Web, the African Wildlife Web, and the Arnold Theiler digitisation project. These products were developed as an aid in providing information on topics that are rapidly increasing in popularity. Portals to enable registered users of the Academic Information Service to access e-information with the least effort and confusion such as the "Library in you Office" will also be featured. This very basic portal allows the user to access some of the more important information resources for veterinary use and then afterwards directly connect to UpeXplore, the Academic Information Service's OPAC catalogue for the electronic journal collection of the Academic Information Service or the automated article requesting system run by SABINET (South African Bibliographic and Information Network). The development of the library's electronic newsletter which serves as an user education and information aid for wider, off-campus usage will also be discussed. The overall management of these e-products via the Infoportal of the Academic Information Service with the help of Greenstone Digital Software (a suite of software for building and distributing digital library collections) is helping to turn the African Information Nightmare (P. Lor) into the African Dream.