The rapid developments in technology are changing the way we obtain information, and in the field of health, knowledge transfer is an essential requirement for improving the quality of health care and research in areas such as the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR) where socio-political and economic unrest are prevalent.
To shed light on this issue further, EMPHNET held a webinar titled "The Transfer of Knowledge in the Digital Age, and the Increased Significance of E-libraries " on Tuesday, June 7, 2022. The two-hour session offered a space to highlight the effect of open access electronic libraries on public health practices and research and to examine the importance of electronic libraries in healthcare. It also provided an opportunity to present the recently launched EMPHNET Electronic Library (EEL).
The session was led by five speakers namely: President of the Jordan Library and Information Association, Dr. Najeeb Al-Shorbaji; Director of the Medical Library and Educational Resources Center at King Hussein Cancer Center (KHCC), Ms. Alice Haddadin; Head of the Electronic Library of Medicine, Mr. Ghaith Salameh; Director of the Medical Library at the American University of Beirut (AUB), Dr. Ola El Zein; and Networking Officer and EEL’s Administrator at GHD|EMPHNET, Ms. Meral Al-Gunaid. The session was also facilitated by Public Health Expert, Associate Professor, Baghdad University, Iraq, Dr. Faris Lami; and GHD| EMPHNET's Knowledge Exchange and Networking Team Leader, Ms. Dana Shalabi.
Dr. Lami started the webinar by welcoming the speakers and participants. He also introduced the webinar's topic and then handed the mic to Ms. Shalabi to introduce the speakers.
Dr. Al-Shorbaji started his presentation titled "Impact of Open Access on Public Health Practices and Research," by highlighting that the internet has fundamentally changed the way of distributing scientific knowledge. He also defined what "Open Access" is and its different types. He then shed light on the difference between the traditional, open access, and hybrid journal publishing models. Dr. Al-Shorbaji ended his presentation by stating the advantages of open access archiving, and by identifying the changes in research patterns.
The second two presenters, Ms. Haddadin and Mr. Salameh, spoke about the importance of digital libraries in public health practice. Ms. Haddadin began her talk by stating the difference between the libraries' role in ancient times and nowadays. She also defined the concept of digital libraries, and highlighted their goals, challenges, and roles. Then, Mr. Salameh talked about the urgency of enhancing health libraries and their significant role in shaping public health professionals' information-seeking behavior. He also shared the Electronic Library of Medicine's (ELM) experience in the digital transformation and ensuring the availability of information on the COVID-19 crisis.
From her end, Dr. El Zein discussed the actions taken at the Medical Library at AUB throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. She also referred to recommendations for making teaching resources available electronically, the act of teaching, and the social and psychological instabilities challenges. Dr. El Zein spoke about the AUB library's collections and open access material, and the partnership between AUB and the Arabic Collections Online Project (ACO) which aims to digitize, preserve, and provide open access to the Arabic language books. Concluding her presentation, she advised on advocating for open science and open culture, investing in open science infrastructures and services, linking science and society, and being open to sharing and receiving knowledge.
The last presenter for the evening, Ms. Al-Gunaid, presented the EMPHNET Electronic Library (EEL) which was recently launched in May. She stated that EEL serves as a resource for field epidemiologists and public health professionals in the EMR and beyond, provides its users with tools that will advance their research, and contributes to bridging the information-to-action gap. She also talked about EEL's target audience, vision, and mission as well as the types of publications, resources, and trials available in EEL. Ms. Al-Gunaid ended her presentation by giving the participants a tour of EEL’s portal.
Following these presentations, Dr. Lami facilitated the Q&A session where participants engaged in the discussion. He then concluded the session by thanking the speakers and the attendees for their participation.
A total of 132 participants attended the webinar, deeming it another success in the EMPHNET WEBi Series.