I. Introduction
 

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The purpose of this study is to assess the effectiveness and impact of book and journal donation projects in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. More broadly, it seeks to evaluate the needs of university and major state libraries in the region, and the higher educational system as a whole.

The report seeks to fulfil three objectives: first, to provide information about current needs in the region to government and non-government organizations which support and participate in book and journal donation programs; second, to offer recommendations to current and potential donors, suppliers, distributors and recipients on ways to make book and journal donation projects more effective; and third, through public distribution of key elements of the report, to facilitate the exchange of information among donors, suppliers, distributors, recipients and other interested organizations.[1]

The main geographic focus of the study is the four Visegrad countries-- the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and the Slovak Republic-- although significant attention is devoted to Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Ukraine.

The needs of libraries throughout the region have been assessed primarily through surveys. The Civic Education Project's broad network of over 100 scholars, assisted by colleagues and students, conducted extensive surveys of librarians and faculty members in the region. In all, over 400 faculty surveys and 270 library surveys were conducted in the ten subject countries in the first few months of 1994. These surveys focused on:

  • the volume and nature of Western donations
  • the awareness of, and involvement in decisions concerning these donations
  • the suitability of the specific materials donated for the teaching and research needs of the recipient institutions
  • public awareness of, and access to, donated materials
  • the continuing needs of libraries, lecturers and researchers throughout the region

The surveys were supplemented by an extensive series of interviews with university officials, faculty members, students and representatives of in-region partner organizations. In addition, extensive consultations were held with U.S. donors and suppliers. This broad focus on the entire process, from donor to end user, has provided unique insights into the changing needs of the region several years after many large-scale projects began and over four years since the revolutions of 1989-1990.

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