Uruguay: Milestones in the Regional Evolution of INIS
My first contact with the IAEA was in 1989 in Moscow, at ATOMINFORM while attending the International Centre for Scientific and Technical Information (ICSTI) training: INIS Human Resources: On the Job Group Training for Developing INIS Member States.
Lectures were given about FIBRE data entry software and searches on INIS CD-ROM.
Through the Regional Cooperation Agreement for the Promotion of Nuclear Science and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean, specifically by the ARCAL X project, modern technologies for access to information were introduced and the creation of INIS Centres was supported. During its execution, from 1985–1992, many countries in the region became members of INIS, including our country, Uruguay.
Our involvement in the RLA/0/017 ARCAL XLII Regional Network for Nuclear Information increased after our application for INIS Liaison Officer was submitted by government authorities in Uruguay. This enabled better conditions for the formation of a nuclear Regional Information Network with 15 countries in Latin America.
The Regional Network for Nuclear Information (RRIAN) proposed an expansion of the availability of nuclear literature in the countries of the region and the international dissemination of scientific and technical reports published in participating countries.
The acquisition of hardware and software, and human resources training in information technology allowed inclusion in the cooperative system (http://cin.cnen.gov.br/rrian).
Through the concept of re-packing information, two publications were produced: Accidents and Incidents in the Nuclear Area in Latin America and the Caribbean. Bibliographic Collection, which was published in hard copy and, Bibliographic Collection of Nuclear Legislation in Force in Latin America and the Caribbean: Organic Laws and Nuclear Safety.
33 professionals have been trained on topics such as electronic document delivery, inputting documents to the INIS database, promotion of information services, copyrights, strategic planning, information management, implementation of quality standards in libraries, and trends and prospects of new information technologies.
An increase in the regional participation of INIS was one of the successes achieved by the project. The average contribution of the region in the five years before the project was 2173 documents. In 1999, this contribution increased to 3154 documents.
As shown in Figure 1, the last five years have had significant fluctuations, which would be good to analyze through a survey in the near future.
Other achievements throughout the years have been the increase in the number of users using RRIAN Sonar, a professional service development consisting of selective dissemination of information that allows registered users access to INIS database updates.
The Nuclear Information Centre–CNEN in Brazil has offered this alert service to regional users, and promoted conferences through the website. At the same time, a Web-based electronic bulletin was created to disseminate nuclear information (http://www.cnen.gov.br/produtos/cin/inf-tec-cient.asp).
The RRIAN document delivery exchange, through regional cooperation, exchanged 168 documents in 1999, the first year of the project. Since then, it has shown a fluid and sustained increase. The second year showed substantial growth, providing 777 documents totaling 7164 pages, thus strengthening regional cooperation.
The ARCAL XLII project has succeeded in giving sustainability to the region, as shown in Figure 2. Regional document delivery has provided information within the region despite budget restraints. Working together over the years has been the best way to overcome weaknesses and share strengths.
Changes in charging policy to INIS database access
The INIS database charging policy was given special attention, when in 2007, RRIAN asked the INIS Secretariat for free regional access to the INIS database, and at the 11th Joint INIS/ETDE Technical Committee Meeting a free access pilot project for Latin America and other voluntary countries was agreed upon. The following countries participated in the pilot project: Argentina, Brazil Canada, France, Uruguay, and the USA. Not much later, INIS offered free worldwide access to the database.
The advent of the era of digitization has allowed for better management of old collections. Each country within the region has carried out different methods for digital preservation using different channels and levels.
Increasing the number of users in the INIS database
In 2008, INIS wanted to increase the use of its database, and therefore, a survey was conducted about INIS database usage needs and subject scope among the following countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico and Uruguay. Countries outside the Latin America region also conducted their own surveys.
The survey helped INIS’ decision to move towards a Google-based search engine and to use other information sources and databases. This had a major impact on the increase in subject scope, provided easier searches, faster connection, and better control of full text documents. This effort by the INIS Secretariat to increase the number of users had a major impact within only a few years.
Nuclear education networks and nuclear knowledge management
Among the new challenges to face was the creation of a nuclear education and training network, which was established in December 2010, in a meeting in Peru, aiming to contribute to the preservation, promotion and sharing of knowledge, as well as fostering the transfer of nuclear knowledge in Latin America.
LANENT seeks to increase technical and scientific cooperation among its members by promoting the benefits, and fostering the progress and development, of nuclear technology in areas such as education, health, industry, government, the environment, and the mining industry, among others. The goal is to arouse interest in the younger generation to nuclear technology (http://www.lanentweb.org/).
Digitization has enabled better knowledge management in the preservation of old collections. Each country in the region carried out different methods, using different channels and levels.
As support to LANENT, RLA/0/048 (networking nuclear education, training, extension and shared knowledge in Latin America and the Caribbean Project) was developed, where INIS Centres have participated in various activities such as: increasing regional preservation of nuclear knowledge (which is useful for nuclear education and training outreach activities), and the availability of digital full text collections produced in regional Member States, including PhD and Master Theses.
Once INIS Centres have received adequate equipment and software, and initiated digitization, platforms should be developed which are capable of reaching a larger number of users using freely accessible and suitable software recommended to educational institutions.
It is necessary to lead the effort to consolidate the formation of repositories so that we can manage, preserve and increase visibility to LANENT in digital content.
To conclude, I would like to say that these regional milestones which I have mentioned clearly show the impact that the IAEA and Members States have had in the development, and strengthening of nuclear information in Latin America.
Throughout my years as Liaison Officer, the INIS Secretariat has faced difficulties and challenges with realism, intelligence, and hard work, underscoring the strength of international cooperation and integration, which should continue.