“Our faculty depends on access to Research4Life”: Meet our user representative Gabriela Paz
Research4Life has two official user representatives who are part of the Executive Council of our partnership. They have three-year terms that start on the annual partners meeting mid-summer. This summer, we are happy to welcome Gabriela Paz from Honduras, a Group B country, to our group. She and Edda Tandi Lwoga, who joined last year, will provide valuable perspectives on our users’ needs. We had a chat with Gabriela from her home office in Tegucigalpa.
Gabriela works at Unitec, a private technological university, where she is director of CRAI, the university’s center for learning and research resources. CRAI operates eight libraries spread over campuses in the three largest cities of the country. “Our main goal is to facilitate access to information for the university community. On a daily basis I’m in touch with publishers and of course our users – Unitec has 22,000 students. I facilitate trainings so that users can get the most out of the resources we provide.”
“Funnily, I’m not actually a librarian myself,” Gabriela laughs. “I’m an industrial engineer by training, and was working in a drugstore before I started working at Unitec. My additional degrees in logistics and finance resulted in an offer to join the CRAI team in 2014. Now I read papers on information sciences all the time!”
“My logistics background really comes in handy, since we have to import a lot of books that are not available in Honduras. Luckily I know how to ensure everything goes well with the border customs.” But CRAI does much more than simply buying books and making them available to patrons. “There is still a misconception that librarians mostly occupy themselves with getting physical books to the users who need them. So much of what we do is online now. We have over 22,000 physical books, but online, mostly thanks to Research4Life, we offer more than 100,000 resources.”
“Books are still the most popular format for most students, but as they progress in their degrees, access to peer-reviewed journals is increasingly important. It is our job to make sure that they are aware of all the academic resources they can have access to.”
Training is key
With tens of thousands of high-quality academic resources, Research4Life is front and central in the library’s collection. “We started using Hinari in 2002 and later joined the other programs as well. Health Sciences is a popular degree here at Unitec. The university faculty especially love Research4Life. They can hardly live without it, since access to scientific journals is crucial to their work.” In terms of research output, Unitec ranks third in Honduras.
It would be impossible for Gabriela´s team at the library to afford the normal subscription fees of the journals and other resources in Research4Life. “It’s even a challenge for us to find budget for the Group B fee – though luckily we always succeed. The economic situation in Honduras is very unstable at the moment and the inflation is high.”
Training is crucial to make sure students and faculty are well-equipped to find what they need. “Training people is one of the aspects of my job I love the most. I’m rewarded every time that we can help someone find the information they need.”
From law to gastronomy
“For us, there’s nothing like Research4Life – it’s the main platform for scientific information not only in our university, but in our entire country. We offer degrees in law, health and even gastronomy, and all these topics are covered by Research4Life.”
“Through this position as a Research4Life user representative, I’ll be able to give all the users I am in contact with everyday a voice. For example, there is a really big need for training in Spanish here, even if papers are mostly in English. I’m looking forward to it!”