Tunisia: The 45th Anniversary of INIS
Since nuclear knowledge is in many ways unique, managing this knowledge requires a specific program and needs to achieve specific objectives. Without diligence in managing this knowledge, substantial portions could be lost when staff retire or when knowledge bearing objects are disused and discarded due to changing priorities. Good management of nuclear knowledge, however, can contribute to economics, safety and innovation.
Since the creation of the National Center for Nuclear Science and Technology (CNSTN), one of our principle purposes has been to create a center for effective documentation, sharing information in the nuclear field (in the center of the ladder and nationally).
Indeed, this purpose was realized from the very beginning, despite the shortcomings of modern communications media such as Internet, email, websites, etc.
Since 1997, CNSTN has introduced another activity in the documentation unit: making the INIS database available to researchers and engineers. At first we tried to popularize the information in the database using traditional means; promoting the importance of this tool to CNSTN staff.
An important event that marked the course of the system and helped us disseminate it nationally was the organization of the Fourth Arab Conference on Peaceful Uses of Atomic Energy, held in Tunis, in November 1998.
In order to broaden the reach of information nationally, model letters were sent to gather and share information on the use of nuclear science and technology and to share the efforts needed to build a national centralized database at CNSTN.
The primary mission of INIS has been to foster the exchange of information between Member States. However, INIS has been deeply involved in nuclear knowledge preservation from the very beginning. INIS evolved from an on-line world in 1978, to CD-ROM in 1991, and finally to the Internet in 1998. It was only in 2009 that public access to the INIS database became a reality.
INIS covers literature published worldwide on peaceful uses of nuclear science and technology. The scope of INIS is very wide and reflects the knowledge domain of the IAEA. It includes physics (in particular, plasma physics, atomic and molecular physics, and especially nuclear and high-energy physics), chemistry, materials science, earth sciences, radiation biology, radioisotope effects and kinetics, applied life sciences, radiology and nuclear medicine, isotope and radiation source technology, radiation protection, radiation applications, engineering, instrumentation, fossil fuels, synthetic fuels, renewable energy sources, advanced energy systems, fission and fusion reactor technology, safeguards and inspection, waste management, environmental aspects of the production and consumption of energy from nuclear and non-nuclear sources, energy efficiency and energy conservation, economics and sociology of energy production and use, energy policy, and nuclear law.
The use of this database was both helpful and important to our Center and our laboratories, especially information related to the environment, such as waste management, site remediation, and radiation safety, non-proliferation and policy issues, medical isotopes and agricultural applications, and many more. The INIS system also provides much information on the prevention of nuclear accidents, namely: Fukushima, and Three Mile Island.
The Documentation Unit played a significant role in raising awareness of researchers and engineers at CNSTN to the modern methods and technologies of scientific and technical information, a rapidly developing field. The CNSTN Center's library has become a source of diverse information in the field of nuclear science and technology.
One of our main documentation activities is to meet the needs of users both internally (scientists and engineers of the Centre) and externally (scientists from research centers and universities, ENIT, ENIM, ESIA, INAT, etc.) and to provide them with bibliographic references and documentation related to their field.
Our library has established a bibliographical bulletin which includes new acquisitions and developments of the INIS database and which is regularly sent to research institutions involved in the use of nuclear techniques (greater research schools such as ENIS, ENIM, ENIT, ESIA, faculties of Sciences, Ministries, etc.).
I have participated in several seminars, trainings, and meetings that helped me develop my skills in the field and especially expand the scope of the INIS network on both national and international levels.
The purpose of these training courses is to provide comprehensive information about the role of INIS in supporting national nuclear activities and programs, and to provide training on the use of INIS products and services and INIS input preparation. These courses address the important role of the national INIS Centre, and the need to establish regional cooperation among national INIS Centres. The trainings allow an exchange of information and offer practical sessions on specific topics.
Nuclear information sources may include a wide range of content for a variety of purposes and users. The focus of each source, and therefore, which content to manage, depends upon the policy decisions made by each institution or administrator.
One of the disadvantages in our Center is that our researchers do not give much importance to this tool, despite its scientific contributions in research. This is mainly due to a lack of awareness of the system and its importance. We must educate both managers and operators by offering them the necessary resources (physical and material).
In conclusion, CNSTN will continue to work with all members of the system and to ensure the reception of the most recent information in the field of scientific research and technology, and make use of the provisions in the field.