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Anonymous / 22.03.2024

The role of Malawi Library Association in developing librarianship in Malawi

Congratulations were extended to Robert Band for co-authoring and publishing a paper that examined the role of Library Associations (LAs) in the evolution of library and information sciences. The paper discussed how LAs served as crucial platforms fostering collaboration, knowledge exchange, and professional development among information professionals. In the case of Malawi, the Malawi Library Association (MALA) was highlighted as a pivotal entity in advancing librarianship. Established to foster collaboration, advocate professional excellence, and promote innovation, MALA sought to drive positive change and advancement among information professionals in Malawi. However, empirical evidence showcasing MALA's effectiveness in meeting its objectives and member expectations was limited despite its presence since 1976.

Regarding MALA's impact and challenges, its establishment in 1976 marked a significant moment in advocating for the advancement of Library and Information Science (LIS). Collaborative efforts, including the formation of the Malawi Library and Information Consortium in 2003, had facilitated an information-sharing network. Additionally, MALA and the Department of Information Science at Mzuzu University had played a crucial role in laying a solid foundation for LIS education. Nonetheless, challenges such as limited funding, management issues, and low awareness of the benefits of professional associations had hindered the extent to which LAs addressed these concerns.

The research aimed to unravel MALA's role, initiatives, and hurdles impeding its efficacy. Interviews conducted with 24 professionals revealed varying levels of awareness and commitment to MALA, highlighting gaps in communication regarding the association's initiatives. Among the initiatives undertaken by MALA were hosting national conferences, developing a journal management system, and offering training programs for library assistants. Despite these efforts, challenges persisted, with members expressing concerns about funding, limited visibility, and inadequate support for professional development programs. The study's findings held implications for MALA's administration, the broader LIS community in Africa, and global information professionals. Recommendations based on identified challenges included enhancing communication about MALA's initiatives, leveraging digital platforms for outreach, and seeking collaborative opportunities with stakeholders to secure support and funding.

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