African Library Project

The Othilia Woodward Memorial Book Drive for Primary Education in Ghana

12/04/2014 to 04/15/2015
Brunswick ME

The African Library Project brings gently used books to an African community that has lots of eager readers but very few books. Please help by collecting and delivering gently used books or by raising money to help pay for shipping to Africa. It only takes 1000 books and $500 to start a single library (and a little elbow grease!)

This book drive is organized by ...

Lydia Woodward, an Anthropology major at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME.

We want to start a library in Africa because...

My mother, Othilia Woodward, was the most kind and loving person I have ever had the privilege of knowing. Nowhere was this more evident than in the classroom. As a kindergarten teacher, she worked with students who could not yet read or write, and many of whom could not yet speak English. Growing up, I would often spend time in her classroom with her. Watching her teach, I was always struck by her patience, good humor, and dedication to her work. She taught in the same classroom at Vista Square Elementary School, in Chula Vista, CA, for more than a decade, and in that time touched the lives of both her students and her peers. As her daughter, I am still struggling with how to come to terms with her death nearly three years after the fact. How, then, has this led me here - to starting a library in Africa? I am doing this because life is short, often cruelly so; however, I believe solace can be found in creating something that transcends whatever short time we have to live. My mother recognized that being a kindergarten teacher, particularly for bilingual students, was an investment in the future. This is evidenced by the fact that many of the students she taught in her first year at Vista Square are now in college. This philosophy is one of the most valuable things I have learned from my mother; it is a cruel twist of fate that I have put it to the most use only after her passing. This is where the library comes in. Starting a library in Ghana, one of the continent's English-speaking countries, will give primary-age, bilingual students increased opportunities later in life. Though literacy is important everywhere, it is in Africa where the most children cannot read, and do not have the means of learning. Thus, it is my hope that the students for whom this library is being assembled will be given a chance at educational advancement that we in the United States (particularly us college students) take for granted. I ask you to imagine your life without the ability to read. Now, imagine that situation, but with the added burden of living in a country without the resources, infrastructure, and security that are easily attainable for us. I am confident that this project will come to fruition, but I can't do it alone. I ask that in memory of my mother, and for the sake of the lives you will touch, you join me in this effort. Even if you can only give very little, please know that even a little goes a long way in the right hands.

Please contribute these kinds of books...

This will be a primary school library, which means I am collecting books between a preschool and 4th grade level. The books should be in English, and can be on a variety of subjects given that they are interesting, educational, and comprehensible to this age group. To save money on shipping costs, paperbacks are preferred, though any and all books are welcome and appreciated. My goal is to collect at least 1,000 books for our overseas partner in Ghana.

Here's how you can contribute your books...

I realize that since I live thousands of miles away from many of my friends and families, logistics may be a problem. Books can be shipped, but they can also be sent directly to me if ordered online, for example (see address below). Additionally, any and all monetary contributions will go directly to the project in the form of shipping costs or of attaining more books. As a donor, you are welcome to let me know if there are certain types of books you like me to purchase with your contribution. I'll take care of the rest!

We need to raise funds for shipping the books...

Since I am organizing this as an individual, the vast majority of funds will come from friends and family rather than through large-scale fundraising. If you would like to contribute, I ask that you please send books or payment to the following secure address:

Lydia Woodward
Bowdoin College
1006 Smith Union
Brunswick, ME 04011

You can always reach me with any questions at

Here are some ways that you can help...

The best way to help meet this goal is through the donation of books and funds. Please know that your contribution can and will make a difference. To put it into perspective: If 100 people gave $5 - the cost of a fancy beverage, a few songs on iTunes, or a couple of gallons of gas - it would cover the cost of shipping the books to those who need them.

Contact us to find out more

Name: Lydia (Lily) Woodward

Progress Report

Our Goal 1,000 books $500 fundraising


Thank you to the team at the African Library Project for such a warm welcome, and for the encouragement to embark on this journey.

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