University Libraries partner with VT’s TEAM Malawi in Mzuzu University (“Mzuni”) Library Initiative

The University Libraries joined TEAM Malawi when the call for library expertise went out after the tragic loss to fire of the Mzuni Library (see photo above and story below). Anita R. Walz, Open Education, Copyright & Scholarly Communications Librarian, noticed the initiative on social media and directed it to International Outreach in our Learning Division.

TEAM Malawi is a multidisciplinary program with the theme “every activity can be mapped back to a Community Wellness model of healthcare that incorporates interests of … Technology–Education–Advocacy–Medicine [in] Malawi… Current partners include Engineering, Public Health, Education, Urban Affairs and Planning, Medical School, Small businesses, International NGOs…” The team has several education abroad service opportunities for VT students, and has been in operation for a number of years.

Brian Mathews, Associate Dean for Learning, shares experience garnered in ongoing Newman Library innovations and current thinking about “Learning Spaces” with Head Librarian of Mzuni

Brian emailed Dr. Felix P. Majawa, University Librarian of Mzuzu University, a folder of resources that includes “some info about learning spaces… I also included a short doc that has our philosophy and characteristics…. [and] assembled a handful of docs about active learning environments and libraries that might be of interest.” Brian also offered to Skype with Mzuni librarians to answer any questions that might arise in the process of rebuilding their library.

Dr. Ralph Hall, School of Public & International Affairs, who is leading the VT initiative, wrote to Dr. Majawa that “Our hope is that these documents will enable you to consider a number of strategies that may help enhance the learning environment in your new library.”

University Libraries disseminates global call for action in Mzuni Library crisis through American Libraries Association’s International Relations Round Table (ALA IRRT)

The IRRT’s Executive Board “earnestly endorsed publicizing helping the Mzuzu fire relief effort,” and not only published the story in International Leads, but also wrote about it on their Facebook page and blog.

Mzuni Library Initiative
From the ALA IRRT newsletter International Leads, March 2016, Volume 30, Number 1, page 5.

Margaret Merrill, retired VT librarian, has found a home for some Agricultural print resources she stored in her garage after saving them from the discard bin

Margaret MerrillVT University Libraries, like most academic libraries, has largely migrated to electronic resources, and has been discarding print materials for over a decade. We of course only discard what we can get in the more convenient form of e-resources. We still have print resources, but most are earmarked for retention.

That said, we located a source of materials for the Agriculture Department of the new Mizuni Library. Our much-missed and esteemed retired Agriculture Librarian, Margaret Merrill, has some discarded materials stored neatly in her garage , including some runs of journals that the University Libraries had replaced with the same e-journals. This material will provide a depth of research history in a country where e-resources are hard or impossible to get. It makes you wonder if there is more out there like Margaret’s?

How to help

Donations and books have started pouring in and are being stored in offices on the VT campus. More information about exactly what resources are most urgently needed and how you can help can be found on VT’s TEAM Malawi blog here.