Universal access to information and knowledge lies UNESCO’s overall mandate to promote the free flow of information by word and by image and thus to place information and knowledge at the doorsteps of communities. UNESCO strives to forge an enabling environment to facilitate and open up avenues for universal access to information and knowledge. Open Access to information and knowledge is an innovative mode of scholarly communication within the digital environment aimed at achievement of universal access to information and knowledge.
While Open Access helps digital inclusion of citizens in developing countries by bringing within easy reach full-text contents of scholarly works, documentary heritage collections and development-related literature, the Digital Library remains a knowledge repository of such citizens, indigenous people, communities and institutions. Open Access to knowledge is a model adopted by many international and intergovernmental fora, such as the World Summit on the information Society (WSIS), for disseminating full-text contents to online communities.
The South Asia sub-region is now in the forefront of the Open Access movement within developing countries in the world, with India being the most prominent partner in terms of its successful Open Access and Digital Library initiatives. Institutional and policy frameworks in India also facilitate innovative solutions for increasing international visibility and accessibility of scholarly literature and documentary heritage in this country.
This publication has its genesis in the recommendations and proceedings of UNESCO-supported the international conferences and workshops including the 4 International Conference of Asian Digital Libraries (ICADL2001, Bangalore); the International Conferences on Digital Libraries (ICDL2004& ICDL2006, New Delhi); and the International Workshop on Greenstone Digital Library software (2006, Kozhikode), where many information professionals of this sub-region demonstrated their Digital Library and Open Access Initiatives. It discusses successful activities in the South Asia sub-region bringing closer to the worldwide audience, the subject of access to scholarly literature and documentary heritage. This may thus be considered an authoritative source-book on Open Access Development in this sub-region.