|All too often, the donation of books and journals to Eastern Europe appears to be an end in itself, rather than a means to achieve a specific set of aims. Different book and journal donation projects in fact pursue different goals, stated or unstated, which, to be effective, might require different recipients, media, standards of content, forms of consultation and means of distribution. |
A survey of projects in Eastern Europe reveals four primary aims of book and journal donation projects:
- teaching foreign languages and spreading their usage
- providing support for non-language academic instruction
- promoting academic research
- facilitating the acquisition of practical knowledge by professionals
The first goal, foreign language instruction, is the most common and most basic. The materials necessary to provide support for a program pursuing this goal would include language textbooks, teachers' manuals, foreign literature and reference books, including dictionaries and thesauruses. Distribution of these materials would primarily, although not exclusively, be focused on institutions which offer language instruction and which therefore would have an active user public. The main focus would likely be grammar schools and high schools where most of such education takes place. Support would also be needed in higher educational institutions and institutions which offer adult education, as well as in regional and local public libraries in order to provide the general public with access to materials for learning and for maintaining language abilities (the latter of which might be a more realistic aim).
The second and third goals, upon which this study most closely focuses, require donation programs that concentrate primarily upon higher educational institutions and research institutes. Both are likely to have user populations which will have the academic need and the language skills necessary to make profitable use of the donated books and journals. Donations would primarily be directed towards the interests of advanced (university level) students, faculty members and researchers.
The types of materials sent would, however, vary with the goal. The promotion of non-language academic instruction would best be served by materials which could be integrated into courses taught at the recipient institutions, ideally courses where most, if not all, students would have a good grasp of the language in which the donations are published. It would also be important to identify materials for donation which are not available in the native language or, alternatively, to place resources in progr
The fourth goal of book and journal donation projects, the support for professional activities, involves a different approach. Materials would be of a more practical than theoretical nature. A receptive and needy audience for such donations can be found particularly in the medical field, but also in areas such as government, social services and, to a lesser extent, business. In such instances, donations may be most effective when donated to institutions, such as hospitals and government agencies, even if they do not contain libraries. In addition, it might be appropriate to single out individuals, such as doctors, who can make continuous use of such materials.
Although any donor, supplier or distributor may pursue more than one of the above aims, it is important to disaggregate them, because too often, donation programs lose sight of the distinctions; in attempting to pursue all aims, they fail to contour their programs to specific needs resulting in reduced efficacy. While this report will focus primarily on the second and third goals outlined above, all will be taken into consideration.
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