Establishing Data Centre at Mzuzu University

The presentation below was recorded for the International Association of Social Sciences Information Service and Technology (IASSIST), 1st African Regional Workshop, from January 11-13, 2021. In the presentation, Felix Majawa (Mzuzu University, Malawi) and Ralph Hall (Virginia Tech, USA) discuss the findings from a stakeholder survey that was sent to faculty and staff at Mzuzu University and Virginia Tech about a proposed data centre that could be located in Mzuzu University’s new library. The abstract form a report on the survey responses is provided below.

REPORT ABSTRACT

Mzuzu University lost its Library as a result of a fire that took place on 18th December 2015. In response, the university decided to establish two processes. The first was to restore information services within six months by creating an interim Library. The second was to design a new library in collaboration with Virginia Tech’s School of Architecture and Design in the United States. A total of three conceptual designs were developed, from which Mzuzu University selected a final design. One key aspect of each conceptual design was a dedicated space for a Data Centre. The initial concept was that the centre will support research activities at the university, within the Malawi, and with international partners outside Malawi, such as Virginia Tech. This paper captures the anticipations and aspirations of the key stakeholders involved with the library design project at Mzuzu University and Virginia Tech. They were captured by a survey that was shared via email with 29 stakeholders. A total of 10 responded at Mzuzu University, and 12 responded at Virginia Tech. A key finding from the survey is the need to create clear plans for each aspect of the project, from the effective implementation of the data center, to staffing and equipment procurement and management, to data literacy programming, and to the long-term sustainability of the centre. Developing a policy/process to guide the operations of the data centre was also considered to be critical. The library construction began in November 2020 and is expected to end in November 2022. Having a clear plan for how the data centre could be operationalized will be essential to ensuring the centre is successful. The data centre will be a new facility for the university and this report should be considered as a first step towards shaping the centre’s requirements and future potential.

Construction of the Mzuni Library and Auditorium Begins

The construction of the new Mzuzu University library and auditorium reached a major milestone last week when Agnes NyaLonje (the Minister of Education in Malawi) laid the first foundation stone of the new facility.

The construction of the facility is expected to take around two years and is scheduled for completion in November 2022.

VT’s Navy ROTC Helps Organize Next Shipment of Books

We would like to thank the Midshipmen in Bravo Company from Virginia Tech’s Navy ROTC (Reserve Officers Training Corps) unit for helping us organize our second shipment of books to Mzuzu University. The video below provides some insight into what it takes to process over 100 boxes of books (weighing over 4,000 lbs) in 1.5 hours. We could not have done this so efficiently without the help of the NROTC. We plan to ship these books later this fall.

Second Mzuni Delegation Visits VT

This past week, a second delegation from Mzuzu University visited Virginia Tech to discuss the next phase of the library design project. After selecting a final conceptual design in February, this delegation focused on the next phase of the project – the development of detailed architectural designs for the new library.

During their time on campus, the delegation visited Virginia’s Tech’s Advance Research Computing facility to discuss the type of systems that could be installed in the new library’s planned data center. The video below provides a first person view of their visit. It’s great to see faculty and architecture students from the School of Architecture + Design and SPIA, continue to be fully engaged and working with the delegation from Malawi.

Articles on the Mzuni Delegation Visit

Last week, the visiting delegation from Mzuzu University (Mzuni) had a whirlwind tour of Virginia Tech’s capabilities in the area of architecture, data analytics and visualization, library services, and health and medical device research. The purpose of their visit was twofold. First, they carefully reviewed three of the conceptual library designs that students and faculty in the School of Architecture + Design had developed over the past several months. Second, they interacted with faculty and students to explore the scope of a future data analytics and visualization center that we hope will be incorporated into a future Mzuni library.

The delegation’s visit was covered by our local news media – WDBJ7 and the Roanoke Times.

Virginia Tech also prepared the following story on the Mzuni delegation’s visit.

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Ready for the Mzuni Delegation

Ralph P Hall

On Monday, an 11-person delegation from Mzuzu University (Mzuni) will be visiting Virginia Tech for a week. The purpose of their visit is to engage with students and faculty in relation to the design of a new library for Mzuni. In 2015, Mzuni lost their library, containing over 45,000 titles, to a fire caused by an electrical fault. Since then, the Mzuni Library Initiative – an effort led by Virginia Tech and supported by Radford University, local community groups, and the Malawian Education and Children’s Welfare Foundation – has shipped over 8,000 books to Mzuni for their temporary library (see the video below).

During the past year, four faculty and around 20 students in the School of Architecture + Design have developed three conceptual designs for a new Mzuni library (see the images on the front of the binders below). During their visit, the Mzuni delegation will explore each…

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New project! Theology Book Drive

The Theology faculty at Mzuni have requested theology books for continued support  of undergraduate and graduate theology programs at Mzuni. The Theology Book Drive has been established under the Mzuni Library Initiative in an effort to address these needs.

While open to anyone wanting to give to this initiative, this initiative specifically intends to draw on existing and build new volunteer networks among Church congregations and interested individuals. You are invited to pray for this initiative and asked to consider giving of your time, energies, and resources:

  • Get more information: Project brochure | Receive project updates
  • Which books are we looking for? Nearly 1,000 books
  • What criteria are applied to books donated beyond this list?
  • Can I order books and have them shipped directly? Yes
  • How will you avoid duplicates? Books purchased thru Amazon will be removed from the list when purchased. Information about ordered and received status is available here.
  • Timeline? We plan to accept donations and books through December 2017.

SIX WAYS TO GET INVOLVED

PRAY

VOLUNTEER

DONATE MONEY

  • All donations are 100% tax deductible. You will receive a receipt. Donations will be used for book acquisition and shipping. No part of your donation will be used to cover overhead expenses.
  • Donate by check:  Write “Theology books” on your check’s memo line and send to: Malawi Education and Children’s Welfare Foundation, 507 Delburg Street, Davidson, NC 28036. (Please do not ship books to this address.)
  • Donate online (PayPal’s 2% service fee applies. Note “Theology books” on your donation.)

BUY BOOKS

DONATE BOOKS

TELL OTHERS

 Questions? Please contact: Anita Walz, walzanita@gmail.com

The trucks are packed- thank you!

community | com ∙ mu ∙ ni ∙ ty |

definition: a unified body of individuals

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Above, 20+ volunteers gathered at Kentland Farms to pack the books on the trucks. Next stop… Project Hope in Winchester, VA.

What a joyful day of celebration for the Mzuni Library Initiative and the awesome community that has rallied behind these efforts. Perhaps there has never been a more powerful personification of community, and today we were particularly (wonderfully!) overwhelmed by the community that has supported the Mzuni Library Initiative, as over 20 volunteers gathered at Kentland Farms to see the textbooks on their way- the final leg of their journey to Mzuzu University in northern Malawi.

Here’s a quick recap of the Mzuni Library Initiative by the numbers:

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And so, today we offer a humble, sincere thank you to the community members and groups that have been the heart and hands of this initiative, both in Blacksburg, Virginia, and Mzuzu, Malawi. We also are incredibly grateful to the Roanoke Times and WFXR News for sharing the Mzuni Library story and joining us on this special day.

The next stop for the books is the Project Hope warehouse in Winchester, VA. From there, the books will be loaded on a shipping container bound for Mzuzu!

Textbooks Africa donates books for Mzuni

The Mzuni Library Initiative would like to extend many heartfelt thanks to Textbooks Africa for the generous donation of 75 boxes of books for the Mzuzu University Library. On August 29th, we were excited to welcome Francesco, a representative of Textbooks Africa, to Virginia Tech. Pictured below are volunteers Francesco and Kevin with the book donations.

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One of the best parts of the day was getting to show Francesco the beautiful farmlands in Blacksburg while transporting the books. I was lucky to snap this picture in a peaceful moment before the team arrived and the fun began!

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We are also grateful to Zach and Danny, engineers from the Unmanned Systems Lab, for continually being the “willing hands” of the initiative and assisting with moving heavy boxes of books. Thanks Zach and Danny!

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