EDUCATION | CAREER OF THE WEEK
- Guest: Robert Chalochiwawa
- Position: Librarian
- Firm: Malawi Adventist University (Lake View Campus)
Read more. Learn more. Change the globe. (Nas; I Can)
Academics goes hand in hand with smart studying. There is no way one can claim to be intellectually upright if they have never ever had an interaction with a Librarian. Simply put, librarianship is one of the highly underrated profession which does not only shape but also make who most of us are today.
It is with this background that EM’s Franco Mwachande Junior brings to you, Robert Chalochiwawa, a Librarian with Malawi Adventist University (Lakeview Campus) to enlighten Malawian youths what his field all about.
Profile by Franco Mwachande Jnr
I come from Kawalazi, Chinyakula Village, Traditional Authority Kabunduli in Nkhata-Bay district. I am the first born in a family of three- two boys and a girl. My parents were both farmers (both late now). I am married to Mary Ngulube Banda we have one child; a son, now five years.
Brief Academic Professional Background
I stated my education journey at Kawalazi and Kavuzi Primary schools; thereafter I went to Nkhorongo CDSS and Luwinga Secondary School for my JCE and MSCE respectively. In April 2006, I was selected to study Library and Information Science at Mzuzu University and graduated in 2010.
On April 5, 2010. I got employed with Malawi Adventist University Lakeview Campus as an Assistant Librarian. Just a month into my work the Librarian left for her home country Australia. I am also the current Secretary General of Malawi library Association (MALA).
Who is a Librarian?
A librarian is a person who is professionally trained in information science, works at an academic institution, a public library, Documentation centre, information centres, archives, information broker. They aid those who need informational articles and services while managing and organizing those materials.
Librarians are responsible for a vast amount of information from classic management of books and periodicals to more modern responsibilities that involve managing of audio visual, video recording and digital resources.
What does being a librarian entail?
Librarians spend a significant portion of their time at their desks or in front of computer terminals, assisting users in obtaining information or books for their jobs, homework, or recreational reading. The field is challenging but also satisfying; you work with users under deadline.
There are different types of librarians in this modern era. Librarians are classified according to the type of library in which they work: a public library; school library, media center; college, university, or other academic library; or special library.
Librarians in special libraries work in information centers or libraries maintained by government agencies or corporations, law firms, advertising agencies, museums, professional associations, unions, medical centers, hospitals, religious organizations, or research laboratories. They acquire and arrange an organization’s information resources, which usually are limited to subjects of special interest to the organization. They can provide vital information services by preparing abstracts and indexes of current periodicals, organizing bibliographies, or analyzing background information and preparing reports on areas of particular interest.
For example, a special librarian working for a corporation could provide the sales department with information on competitors or new developments affecting the field.
A medical librarian may provide information about new medical treatments, clinical trials, and standard procedures to health professionals, patients, consumers, and corporations.
Government document librarians, work in a variety of depository libraries in each of the government ministries and departments. They preserve and disseminate government publications, records, and other documents that make up historical actions.
Is the career marketable?
It is very much marketable, with the mushrooming of academic institutions both Public and Private, is making a career in librarianship to be more marketable as no academic institution can be accredited without a trained librarian.
Librarianship is also one such a profession that is so diverse one can work in different capacities, for example teacher librarian, public relations, documentarist, archivist, information manager, newspaper editor, a researcher, Records Manager or even a project manager. It is just unfortunate that many people restrict a career in information |science as somebody looking after a stack of books and charging people overdue fines. As a trained LIS, professional you are capable of handling several duties and serving in different capacities and in different departments.
Entry point into Librarianship
The entry point is a degree in Library and |Information science and in big institutions, you will enter as an assistant librarian and you will be responsible for a particular section or service in the library. With experience and advancement in education, you become a full librarian. Others started as library Assistants but they have acquired necessary skills and upgraded themselves and now they are librarians with Masters and PhDs.
Was Librarianship your dream career?
When I was growing up and during my early years of primary school, when asked what I would want to become I was always answering I want to become a teacher. However, it came a time when I was in Standard seven when our class teacher then (Mr. Manda) chose me to be a library prefect for my class.
Being a prefect, I was in charge of a school library when it was our turn to borrow books. From there my passion for books, reading and assisting friends grew but I did not know that there was a profession called librarianship. My desire to work in the library grew much stronger when I started visiting the National library service in Mzuzu from the first day I just wanted to become somebody looking after books and assisting people satisfy their information needs.
With my friend Grant Kalua after school, we made sure that every week at least twice we should visit the National Library to read and admire the people working there. They looked smart and well organised. It came as a dream coming true when Mzuzu University started enrolling people to study Library and information Science, which I enrolled, abandoning a teaching career I was being trained at Karonga TTC.
Some of the challenges are ever increasing prices for library resources and materials. To cope with this challenge, I always try as much as possible to have alternatives. For example, it is not feasible to buy a hardcopy of a prescribe textbook for student but the alternative is to find an electronic one which can be accessed by several students at the same time.
The other challenge is the ever-changing needs of library users and keeping up the changing technology. Technology and internet have had a huge impact on the library and the way it delivers its services. The rapid digitisation of information has affected operations and systems in the library resulting in gaps in the skills to operate in a digital. To counter these challenges, a librarian needs to be constantly keep abreast of new developments in IT and policies in scholarly publishing. You need to be somebody who reads widely and conversant
What inspires you about this profession?
As I said earlier, it was my standard seven teacher, who by choosing me to be a library prefect ignited my love for books and assisting people in their reading adventure. I really owe it to him. Unfortunately, we have not met for the past 20years.
One other thing that inspires me not to leave this profession is that it makes me get satisfied after assisting different people of different calibres. You meet almost everybody. A visiting professor will always say I want to meet the librarian before he starts his classes. All lecturers will tell their learners to go to the library for more information. Most of the times they come very frustrated and resign but after meeting you and being assisted, they leave very happy and satisfied. This makes me feel very happy. Seeing students graduating with different honours and awards, you feel very satisfied that you played your part.