A highly active task force was formed within MALICO to formalize the search for best technologies. The group is called MALICO Technology Research Group and it was inaugurated on the 21st of July 2006 at Kamuzu College of Nursing in Lilongwe during a 1 day workshop on open source software.
On the workshop, a number of presentations were made on Open Source Software for Libraries, thereby giving the participants an opportunity to explore a number of open source software in use such as Koha (an online public access catalogue); Ubuntu Linux; and social software like Weblogs, Wikis and RSS.
Presenting on Koha software was Zach Landes Lewis of Baobab Project. Koha is a full-featured open-source Integrated Library System (ILS). It is maintained by a team of software providers and library technology staff from around the globe. Its use is growing globally as a number of libraries have already adopted it.
4 e-Vectra Computers were purchased from Baobob to assist with the KOHA development.
Noel Jambo presented on Ubuntu Linux and Kondwani Wella made a presentation on the use of social software e.g. Blogs, Wikis and RSS.
As a way forward, the group selected pilot sites to test the software. Domasi College of Education and National Library Service Lilongwe were selected to be test sites for Koha software. It was agreed that after piloting the project in the selected sites, implementation would move to other sites.
Ubuntu Linux CDs will be made available to all institutions so that at least one computer on each site should be running on the operating system. It is expected that Blogs, Wikis and RSS will also be tested on the institutions’ websites.
The inaugurated MALICO Technology Research Group researches technologies for use by members. In the years since the MTRG inauguration, ground breaking work with KOHA Open Source Library Management Software has continued both in Zomba and Lilongwe. and Mzuzu and in the Teacher Training and Nursing Colleges throughout the country and has been very successful. Librarians and their ICT counterparts meet regularly and allocate specific tasks within KOHA to report back on next time : eg Z3950 or Bar Code creation. Initially 30,000 records were successfully uploaded from Library Solutions.