Here is a wee video I made of my research trip to Malawi. Make sure you have the sound turned up…there is some amazing singing on it that I recorded at the schools end-of-term celebrations. 🙂
For my Library and Information Management MSc dissertation, I went to a primary school in rural Malawi, to which a British NGO had donated a library of western materials that were no longer wanted in the UK. I spent three weeks interviewing the teachers and the library assistant. My intention was to investigate library aid from the recipients perspective.
I have been invited to do a presentation about my work at Bath University on April 26th, for the AULIC staff development group. Anyone going to that?
Although I have not made a start on it yet, I plan to discuss the success and suitability of a Western-donated school library in furthering the aims of literacy and reader development in Malawi. The contribution that library and information professionals can make to international development agendas will also be discussed with particular reference to the Millennium Development Goals.
When I first got interested in this subject and started my literature review, I discovered that although there was a lot of discussion in this area, it largely come from desk research. First-hand, qualitative data is very thin on the ground.
To address the chronic education resource shortage, Western books are often sent to sub-Saharan African countries at great expense, with little or no needs analysis or in-depth review of the service after the books have been installed. These book donation models are often criticized in the literature but I really wanted to find out what the recipients of these donations thought because their voices were distinctly lacking.
Participatory approaches to the planning and evaluation of projects are not new in international development but we in the library world do not appear to use them when attempting to support developing countries. I think this is a shame as we could learn so much.
The trip was an amazing experience that really highlighted the important role libraries and librarians could play in international development, if only NGO’s and development agencies see fit to consult us….we really should be banging their doors down!! I went to CILIP’s International Library and Information Group’s annual general meeting last month where CILIP’s president Biddy Fisher delivered a talk on how librarians can help to deliver the Millenium Development Goals. It was great to hear this being discussed but the goals were agreed upon in 2000…..the targets set for 2015. Are we too late?
Anyone interested in my findings just let me know, I would be happy to let you read them – you may find some surprises!
Anyone about to embark on a Library Masters dissertation and not sure what to research? I highly recommend taking the plunge and conducting research overseas. When else will you have this chance? If you need any tips or advice – again, just let me know.
Anyone out there reading this who works in international development and needs a knowledgable, motivated, librarian. cooooeeeeee! gi’us a job 🙂