For over ten years, the Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, along with publishers, librarians, and university staff, has been committed to a program aimed at supporting research libraries in the poorest countries.
Access to the most up-to-date and complete documentation is, as we all know, one of the key conditions for maintaining quality teaching and research on societies, especially if we want to repair the “scientific fracture” that currently separates researchers belonging to unequally developed geographical areas.
While the FMSH’s support was initially aimed at specialists in the social and human sciences from Eastern countries, who were victims of economic transitions, it very quickly turned toward Southern countries, where there was little access to scientific sources: regions of structural poverty, as is the case in North and Sub-Saharan Africa, and South and Southeast Asia. In addition, temporary support has been offered to some Latin American countries that have been crisis stricken.
These initiatives aim at helping researchers in various disciplines whose knowledge of social mutations is crucial in creating adapted responses in line with their societies’ progress, or those researchers whose findings concerning the uniqueness of their culture may be necessary for the survival of threatened identities.
Concretely, this program aims to fulfill the needs of research centers seeking documentation adapted to the topics they study in a context where their shortage of materials has forced them into a situation of intellectual marginalization.
According to the program’s framework, specific requests for documentation are made by the specialized centers and research teams, or by researchers themselves. Requests are generally made for topics and subjects that correspond to concrete needs for information in the central research areas. This may explain why the program, as put by those on the receiving end, has generated a significant multiplier effect.
The documentation provided is used directly by those for whom it is intended.