About the African Library Project
The African Library Project changes lives book by book by starting libraries in rural Africa. Our grassroots approach mobilizes U.S. volunteers, young and old, to organize book drives and ship books to a partner library in Africa. Our method makes a concrete and personal difference for children on both continents.
In the United States, our volunteers collect, sort, and pack gently-used children's books to ship to specific African communities. They organize book drives in local schools and neighborhoods and raise modest funds to ship the books to our African partners.
In Africa, our partners range from Peace Corps volunteers to school administrators. They receive the books and organize them into libraries to serve local African communities. Along the way, the U.S. donors learn about Africa and develop closer connections to the people in the recipient communities.
Did You Know?
- Most African children grow up without books, while U.S. bookshelves and landfills overflow with books no longer read.
- Africa has the highest percentage of illiteracy in the world.
- Books are the key to increasing literacy, and literacy is the #1 tool out of poverty.
- Many African teachers teach reading, writing, math and English without even a single book to use as a resource.
- Many adult Africans lose their ability to read due to a lack of reading materials.
- The UN has decreed 2003-2012 the United Nations Literacy Decade to underscore the importance of literacy and basic education as major tools in building a cohesive and peaceful society for the 21st century.
Accomplishments To Date
As of December 2013, we have:
- Completed 1,165 libraries in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Cameroon, Lesotho, Nigeria, Botswana, Swaziland, Malawi, Ghana and Sierra Leone.
- Created 900 partnerships with U.S. schools and other organizations.
- Donated over 1.2 million books.
- Organized major conferences to share best practices among our African Partners in 2008 (Botswana), 2009 (Lesotho), 2011 (Swaziland), and 2013 (Malawi).
Who We Are
We are U.S. volunteers and donors who start libraries to improve literacy, education, and self-empowerment. We work together with partner organizations in Africa whose focus is education and empowerment. Our partners in Africa include U.S. Peace Corps volunteers, National Library Service staff, education districts and African Non-Governmental Organizations.
How It All Began
The African Library Project was founded in 2005 by Chris Bradshaw and her family from Portola Valley, California. During a family vacation of visiting remote villages in Lesotho (a small mountainous kingdom in Southern Africa), Chris decided to work towards ending the cycle of poverty and illiteracy. She realized that the simple act of establishing libraries with gently used books would have a profound effect in increasing literacy, and she worked closely with local teachers and community leaders to begin the African Library Project.