South Shore Public Libraries team up with NSCC Library and Tech Services in Mikumi 2013
08.02.2013 - 20.02.2013
Well my once in a life trip to Africa came true twice! How lucky can one middle-aged woman get. South Shore Public Libraries was re-invited to participate in the bridge-funding phase of NSCC’s “EFE” project in Mikumi, Tanzania. As I reflect on the trip, while sitting in the departure lounge at Pearson waiting for the final flight of a 20 hour commute, a few highlights come to mind.
First and foremost is the people: Ashley Pinsent-Tobin, Kellie McMullin, Leigh Gagnier, Andrea Stewart and Paul Tweed were a fantastic set of professionals to travel and work with and in a land of very welcoming people the staff and students of VETA Mikumi shared their time and resources in a way that made you feel at home after the first “Karibu”.
The second high point was witnessing the success of the “Library in your pocket” tablets. We learned on an earlier trip Wifi and electricity are not necessarily a daily staple in Mikumi. Therefore the tablets were preloaded with apps and texts that could be used without WiFi, with an emphasis on the tourism and hospitality subject area. Watching the staff and students discover the potential of this learning tool was an incredible experience.
Unlocking the server and reintializing the VETA Mikumi intranet was another great success of the project. Can you imagine functioning without an intranet or internet for 6 months? That was the reality at VETA.
Through emails home and bouncing around ideas between Paul, Selamani, Chrisostom and myself we were able to restore the proxy server and allow file sharing, Wordpress and Moodle to function again. The computer lab can now be reimaged, cleaned up and be made ready for when the ISP shows up to restore the internet. This tech team was also able to find a short-term wireless solution that allows up to 8 people at a time to share a WiFi hotspot. News of this connection spread like wild fire and watching the look of delight on Principal Ayo’s face as he checked his Blackberry and sent an email with an attachment on a laptop simultaneously was a heart warming experience.
The time spent in Mikumi has been an incredible learning experience for me both personally and professionally. Working at a Public Library is a great job; libraries are all about promoting literacy and sharing information and that is what we did in Mikumi. My heartfelt thanks to the NSCC team, the faculty and students of VETA Mikumi, and the SSPL Library Board for allowing me the privilege to participate in this amazing learning project. – Asante sana.
South Shore Public Libraries