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Soros Seeks to Provide Quality Journals for Developing Countries

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sarah Margon
(212) 548-0378
(917) 692-2208
Publishers Urged to Help Provide Electronic Journals to Developing

July 17, 2001 - At a public meeting in New York City, philanthropist
George Soros announced the launch of a new project to bring economically
disadvantaged countries free or low-cost access to hundreds of electronic
science and technology journals. During his opening remarks, Soros
emphasized the importance of access to reliable information for the
development of democracy.  He told the audience of how he provided
photocopy machines to dissident Hungarian publishers in 1984 so they could
produce underground "szamizdat" publications.

"Clearly technology has changed dramatically since then," said Soros, "We
now live in a global Internet world, which includes even many of the
poorest countries. We now have the opportunity to deliver information to
these countries and I'm calling on science and technology publishers to
join the project."

Publishers who attended the meeting included the American Institute of
Physics, American Physical Society, Highwire Press, ISI Thomson
Scientific, Lippincott, Williams and Wilkins, McGraw-Hill, Nature
Intelligence Unit (NIU), Ovid Technologies, Silver Platter Information,
Springer, and Thieme. They were able to ask Soros and eIFL program
director, Dr. Michael Kay, specific questions as well as participate in a
round-table discussion to help flesh out the new initiative. Also
participating was Arnold Hirshon, Executive Director, NELINET, Inc., who
is serving as an advisor to the eIFL program.

"Today we initiated an on-going conversation with interested science and
technology publishers so when it comes time to submit tenders for the eIFL
consortium, we can reach a new level of success," said Kay.

eIFL Direct works to bridge the digital divide by providing economically
disadvantaged countries with electronic access to information that was
previously unavailable. In 1999, in conjunction with the Soros foundations
network, OSI created eIFL Direct, the world's largest information
consortium consisting of over 2000 university, public, national,
governmental libraries and research institutions.  Using its bulk-buying
power, the consortium has increased access to international scholarly
journals and databases and set prices based on the economic situation of
subscriber countries.

"As a non-profit, we welcome help from the eIFL project," said Douglas
LaFrenier, the American Institute of Physics' director of marketing. "It
allows us to extend our research information to the poorer countries of
the world. Our job as an online host for scientific societies is to
aggregate such information and we appreciate the roll of eIFL in doing the
same but on a much broader scale."

Currently, eIFL Direct contains over 5,000 full-text electronic dailies,
weeklies, wire services, and scholarly journals covering social sciences,
humanities, business, economics, and current affairs, both online and in
CD/DVD format. It is provided through EBSCO Publishers. The July 17th
launch was the first step towards adding science and technology journals
to the eIFL consortium.

"This is the largest and probably the most successful project we've ever
undertaken," said Paul Donovan, EBSCO publishing sales director for
Europe.  "Initially we accepted a certain level of risk but the upside
potential has far the exceeded the initial risk."

The Open Society Institute (OSI) is a private operating and grantmaking
foundation that promotes the development of open societies around the
world. OSI is part of an informal network of foundations and organizations
active in more than 50 countries worldwide that support a range of
programs in education, civil society, media, and human rights. OSI was
established in 1993 by investor and philanthropist George Soros and is
based in New York City. As part of the Soros foundations network, OSI
provides administrative support, technical assistance, and programmatic
advice to foundations in Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet
Union, Southern and West Africa, Guatemala, Haiti, Mongolia, and the
United States. Please visit www.eifl.net for more information.