Offline digital library – SolarSPELL

The Kamuzu University of Health Sciences (KUHeS) management team, headed by The Acting Deputy Vice Chancellor (ADVC) Associate Professor Belinda Gombachika, on 6th January 2023 hosted a team from Arizona State University who are in Malawi to train KUHeS library staff on an offline library project called SolarSPELL.

SolarSPELL is an offline, digital library initiative that empowers learners globally with an approach that combines curated digital libraries; solar-powered, offline technology; and training to build information literacy and internet-ready skills, focusing on the half of the world that remains unconnected. SolarSPELL’s solar-powered, offline technology is rugged and ultra-portable so that it can go anywhere and reach anyone, even in the most remote locations. The offline digital library mimics an online experience by generating its own offline Wi-Fi hotspot to which any Wi-Fi capable device (smartphone, tablet, laptop) can connect. Once connected, users can freely and safely explore, download, and share the library’s thousands of open access resources. Using a train-the-trainer model and working with in-field partners, such as Peace Corps, the UN Refugee Agency, and government ministries, SolarSPELL digital libraries are paired with locally based trainers to build crucial skills among users and ensure long-term, sustainable impact

SolarSPELL offline digital library collections include Nursing and Midwifery library and Biomedical technology library and KUHeS’ School of Nursing, School of Maternal and Neonatal Reproductive Health and School of Life Sciences and Allied Health Professions are the direct beneficiaries of this initiave.

Speaking on behalf of the ADVC, The Acting Executive Dean of The School of Nursing Dr. Winnie Chilemba said that this is a very good initiative for KUHeS since in the absence of electricity power lecturers and students would still be able to access relevant materials that can support their projects and programmes. She said the School of Nursing students, go all over the country including remote areas such as district hospitals and remote communities to do their studies and the issue of lack of electricity power and power interruptions are quite common but this will be a thing of the past with SolarSPELL.

KUHeS is the first education institution in Malawi to benefit from this initiative.