Samoa's new digital library a first for the Pacific

Samoa will soon become the first country in the Pacific to establish a digital library, thanks to a new United Nations project. 

The new $2.6 million tala project will be free-of-charge and serve as a digital trove for books, documentaries, music and other primary sources designed to meet the needs of students and professionals in Samoa and the region.

The Samoa Digital Library (S.A.D.I.L.) followed a request from the Samoan Government at the United Nations General Assembly last September.

Speaking to the Samoa Observer, United Nations Resident coordinator, Simona Marinescu said the project would be focused on ensuring knowledge was widely accessible. 

“There will be access points everywhere in Samoa. For the villages we are aiming to build community centres where people can access information," she said.

Ms. Marinescu said while physical library will never be replaced, society is evolving.

“We need to realise that the new generation absorb information differently, so we won’t see them holding the book but we would see them searching for something online, so we need to make knowledge accessible to them as well," she said. 

Ms. Marinescu said they hope to launch the project on November 1. It will take an expected 18 months to complete. 

“We will work first on ensuring that there is policy, legislation in Samoa to instate the right to public information, so that is where we start to build a knowledge society," she said. 

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The digital library is a component of Samoa’s broader proposal to implement the Knowledge Society Initiative – a multi-pillar project aiming to promote knowledge-based sustainable development in Samoa – was approved through the India-United Nations development partnership fund

She said the platform will have three modules – a digital library, lifelong platform and an open research platform - and will be designed to work with schools, community-based organisations and individuals:

“We will also build a monitoring system into the platform so that we will see where the demand for knowledge is shifting, what the people of Samoa are demanding, so that the digital resources can evolve, and this is important so that we know how the resources that we build are being used.”

Yesterday about 30 stakeholders were part of the Multi-stakeholder Consultation on the Knowledge Society Initiative at the Millennia Hotel to discuss what the project should offer.

Ms. Marinescu said the outcome of the consultation will be presented to the United Nations before funds are released. 

“The $1 million will help build the resources and see which other initiatives that need to come together to ensure that knowledge benefits everyone," she said. 

“We will need to establish which entity will host the resource, once we establish these three modules of the platform, that’s an institution that needs management, maintenance, and we want to ask the parties here where exactly they want to link the digital library. 

She said they hope to build an app with BlueSky and Digicel to help with efficient access to quality information. 

The initiative will be nationally implemented through different U.N. agencies - U.N.E.S.C.O., Food and Agriculture Organisation, World Health Organisations, and U.N.D.P.

The initiative will be rolled out to the Pacific once it is successfully implemented in Samoa. 

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