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World librarians: A socio-technical system providing library search services to offline schools and libraries in Malawi.

Authors
  • Schweik, Charles M1
  • Meyer, Carl2
  • Chinkondenji, Pempho1
  • Smith, Jeremy1
  • Mchenga, Promise1
  • 1 University of Massachusetts, Amherst, United States. , (United States)
  • 2 ShiftIT, Blantyre, Malawi. , (Malawi)
Type
Published Article
Journal
World development perspectives
Publication Date
Dec 01, 2020
Volume
20
Pages
100234–100234
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1016/j.wdp.2020.100234
PMID: 32895637
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

World Librarians is a socio-technical system that strives to solve the information access problem many remote offline schools and libraries have in lesser developed contexts. In this Case Report, we describe the system we have developed over the course of three years, where we first establish solar-powered computer labs in remote schools and libraries in Malawi, and then provide them digital information that they want, rather than what we in the Global North think they need. After providing background on these issues, we describe the socio-technical underpinnings and workflow in the World Librarians program. This involves the establishment of "Requester nodes" in the offline schools and libraries, the management of these deployments using a cloud-based WL app, and the operations of the WL "Searcher node" at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, as well as a novel micro-payment system that enables the transfer of large digital datasets through the use of teacher or librarian cell phones and data plans. We close the report with findings from a preliminary survey suggesting that the WL program is making a positive impact on the schools and libraries served. At its core, WL represents a global librarian support system working to remove the barriers to educational information for all global citizens, with central attention and awareness to Global North/South information power dynamics. © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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