How We Operate
We make it easy for any U.S. volunteer group to establish a sustainable library in an African community. Here's how it works:
- The African schools and communities apply through a local partner organization to request a library. Each school or community is required to provide the space, bookshelves and staffing for the library, which encourages sustainability. They also specify the kinds of books needed for greatest impact.
- We match each approved African library project with a U.S.-based school or organization that agrees to collect gently used books and to raise the money to ship the books.
- We support both parties to create a fabulous library! On the U.S. side, we support book drive organizers with specific tools and methods to collect 1000 books and raise $500 per library project. On the Africa side, we provide a manual on how to set up and run a library in a developing country. We also provide limited training and follow up to evaluate each project and encourage good library practices, so that donated books reach those who need them most.
Our Guiding Principles
• Partnership. We create vital partnerships between organizers of book drives and African communities.
• Community involvement. We proudly foster local, grass-roots participation to collect, sort, pack and ship books from North America and to set up, promote and run libraries in Africa.
• Volunteerism. We rely on a network of talented volunteers who contribute energy, skill and passion and keep our operations affordable.
• Efficiency. We make it easy for anyone to collect and ship books, so that people with limited resources can still have a huge impact.
• Sustainability. We don’t just ship books. We provide systems, support and follow-up to make sure our libraries succeed.
• Cultural fit. We send books with universal appeal or with specific relevance to Africa. Our libraries go only where English is the primary language of school instruction.
• Learning and empowerment for all. We educate our book drive volunteers, especially schoolchildren, about current conditions in Africa. We want every volunteer to know that s/he is personally making a real difference.
• Environmental impact. We recycle gently used English language books to help meet the urgent shortage of books in Africa. Many of these books would otherwise end up in landfills.