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Creating digital library collections: the experience of Malawi university libraries

Geoffrey Francis Salanje


Recently libraries in Malawi, notably at the University of Malawi, have begun to create the first digital library collections of local documents such as theses, reports, scientific papers, speeches by politicians, and materials on HIV AIDS, reproductive health, and gender issues. Most of these documents were originally in printed form, so the digitisation process started with scanning, then moved on to the creation of collections using open source software such as Greenstone, DSpace, Endnote and the Electronic Records and Management System. Activities around the creation of digital library collections in Malawi libraries started after some librarians attended workshops on the subject both within and outside the country. Major challenges to these projects include inadequate technical expertise and equipment, lack of OCR software, inappropriate copyright law, and the use of different content software resulting in the inability of institutions to exchange records. Moreover, these collections are not yet accessible on the internet. However, Malawi libraries are making strong efforts to resolve these challenges; some are acquiring appropriate equipment and software, the Malawi Copyright Act of 1989 is being revised to accommodate electronic documents, and librarians are gaining expertise through hands-on training.

Innovation, no.43 December 2011