More than 500 years ago, the invention of the printing press increased access to written information at a rate not possible before. This new technology helped facilitate the expansion of public libraries serving large populations of people with a desire to learn. The societal and economic transformations enabled by the printing press brought many advancements to the world.
Unfortunately, there are still places where large libraries and widespread access to educational resources are not the norm. One of those places is Tanzania.
Since 2004, the PeerCorps Trust Fund has been active in community development, health promotion and education in Tanzania, East Africa. The PeerCorps TDLI has its roots in the Nzega Book Project initiated in 2004 by Dr. Hamisi Kigwangalla. The Nzega Book Project sought to improve access to books by receiving and distributing physical books donated from abroad to schools in Nzega, Tanzania. However this method quickly became costly for both the donors and for local communities. Large quantities of books are expensive to transport to and across Tanzania’s vast landscape, costly to store and a single physical book can only be used by one person at a time.
Fast forward to the present and we have arrived at a technical, modern solution to a pressing problem. TDLI makes use of commodity computer hardware and open source technologies to build scalable, stand-alone massive digital libraries. We believe that we have arrived at a place where it is now possible for communities to access the same high quality educational resources that wealthier world regions have enjoyed for some time.
We hope that you find the project worthwhile and can share in its development in whatever way you find possible. Hardware contributions are appreciated and we have an active fundraising campaign on GoFundMe.
The TDLI team consists of a volunteer steering group who carry out various components of TDLI including procurement of resources, implementation, evaluation, documentation and advocacy.
Teija Ruottinen is a Volunteer Project Assistant for TDLI. Teija has been involved with the initiative since its early days in 2014 as an online volunteer assisting with networking, social media and advocacy. Teija has an academic background in development & international cooperation and linguistics. She can be reached at teija.r[at]tandli.com
Rhoda Mhahilidza is a Project Coordinator from the town of Ilembula. Rhoda has been instrumental in connecting communities to the project and is very passionate about the need for greater access to educational resources. Rhoda has a background in nutritional sciences and public health. She can be reached at rhoda.m[at]tandli.com
Jessica Bass is a Volunteer Project Assistant for TDLI. She served as an Intern for the PeerCorps Trust Fund in June and July 2015, assisting with implementation and documentation efforts, and is now helping as an online volunteer for fundraising and social media outreach. Jessica is currently an undergraduate student of Environment, Economics, and Politics. She can be reached at jessica.b[at]tandli.com
Michael L. Wilson is a Trustee of the PeerCorps Trust Fund and functions as technical lead for TDLI. He is also active in the project’s documentation efforts, advocacy and in fundraising. He has a background in development, public health and project management. He can be reached at michael.lw[at]tandli.com