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Iraqi Virtual Science Library needs a marketing director

The Iraqi Virtual Science Library boasts an impressive list of partners and resources. American universities created IVSL in response to Iraq’s forcible isolation from the world of research and scholarship under Saddam.

Scholars here are thirsty for new knowledge. They know they need access to journals and current datasets to practice modern science. The trouble is, they don’t know what resources they have available.

Both the faculty and the students here, independently, have asked me to use my credit card to help them pay for World Bank datasets. [For clarity: their money, using my credit card as a payment system.] They know what journals and data they are looking for, and they want to get into the game.
Language is one barrier. English is not spoken universally here.

Connectivity is another. Not every professor yet has a computer at his desk.

But a huge number of resources are available, both inside IVSL and out (more here). The main problem is reaching the audience. How can we promote awareness of the IVSL and similar resources at University of Duhok and elsewhere in Iraq?

Sending American graduate students and professors to do the job in person (without any language skills) cannot be the most effective solution.

About Ben Mazzotta

Ben Mazzotta is a postdoc at the Center for Emerging Market Enterprises (CEME). His study of the Cost of Cash is part of CEME's research into inclusive growth.


2 thoughts on “Iraqi Virtual Science Library needs a marketing director

  1. I agree – I have been managing the IVSL project (from Arlington, VA) since 2006. To-date we have only limited contacts in Iraq and most of our advertising has been word-of-mouth. We’re currently working with the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research (Baghdad) to transition the project to Iraq control, but where does that leave the Kurdistan Universities?

    Posted by Sarah | June 9, 2009, 12:58 pm
    • Hi! Thanks for the comment. Delighted to meet you. I tried to register for access to the IVSL but did not ever receive a communication from the Baghdad Ministry of Higher Education. When I contacted the relevant person at the University of Duhok, he said he was powerless to register me without the confirmation from Baghdad.

      Two thoughts about Kurdistan: first, some how-to pages written in Kurdish would help a lot. I went so far as to look up a Kurdish-language “Wikihow,” where users can post how-to articles in a format similar to Wikipedia. Unfortunately the page is in an Iranian dialect, and the administrator is a lone graduate student in Iran. So far there is no critical mass of users writing web pages in Kurdish, and the University of Duhok doesn’t have enough bandwidth to host a student-written wiki at their site.

      Second, users generally aren’t clear that their passwords need to be updated every 60 days. When they receive the email prodding them to update their passwords, they often assume that their passwords have simply expired, not that they need to change them. (The passwords are also unusually strong, but that’s another kettle of fish.)

      So I guess my recommendations would be (1) translate the instructions, and (2) translate the confirmation emails. Thoughts?

      Posted by Ben Mazzotta | June 9, 2009, 1:19 pm

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