African Library Project

The Book Barn People

06/28/2010 to 08/23/2015
Portola Valley CA

We are working with the African Library Project to provide books to eager readers in Africa who have very few books. Please help us by collecting and delivering gently used books or by raising money to help pay for shipping to Africa. It takes only 1000 books and $500 (plus a little elbow grease!) to start a single library and make a huge difference in children’s lives.

This book drive is organized by ...

We are Olivia (14) and Alec (14), twin brother and sister. Our mom told us about the African Library Project. We thought it would be wonderful if we could set up libraries so that children in Africa could enjoy these books as much as we do.

We are working towards setting up our 26th library. We have done nine with just our family. For nine, we have partnered with our friend Carol. Eight libraries were set up by Olivia as part of her Girl Scouts Silver Award project.

Most families have so many books. Why not share them with children who typically do not have access to books?

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

We take for granted that we can go to the library, have books at home, have books and magazines in waiting rooms. When we heard that many children do not even own a book, we thought that we could help collecting books for them. We want them to enjoy reading as much as we do.

About our African Partners...

We have shipped nine libraries to Lesotho, three to Botswana, three to Ghana, four to Swaziland, two to Malawi, three to Sierra Leone, and two to South Africa.

Please contribute these kinds of books...

Our book drives are ongoing. Our initial goal was to set up 10 libraries. This project is so fulfilling: we will keep collecting and shipping. The books have to be in English. The reading level is from preschool to 8th grade.

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

We are collecting books at 405 Cervantes Road, Portola Valley.
You can also send an email to, and we
will be happy to pick up the books.

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

The cost to ship 1,000 books is $500.
Here's how you can help:
- Write a check to African Library Project and mail to the address listed above. In the Memo line, please write 'book drive'.
- Order chocolate mousse for your party ($2.50/serving; minimum order 6 servings). Call Sofie at 650 529-0689 to place your order.
- Buy Belgian Waffles ($3.00/waffle; minimum order 15). Call Sofie at 650 529-0689 to place your order.

Here are some ways that you can help...

Please go through your book shelves and donate gently used books, help us with the shipping by donating money, and spread the word. We need lots of books and money to send them.

Contact us to find out more

Name: Olivia and Alec
Phone: 650 529-0689

Progress Report

Our Goal Tons of books $Many fundraising
Results so far
(updated: August 2, 2015)
26,534 books $9,350 fundraising

Our initial goal was to collect 1,000 books to start one library. But we'll keep going. We are aiming to set up a library in each school that does not have one. Can you help? Thank you very much for your support!

Winners of the Family Fun Volunteers contest:

Coverage in The Almanac:

Coverage in The New York Times - Charities that Inspire Kids:


Thank you, friends and family! You are making a real difference for the children in Africa!

Tips for Other Book Drive Organizers

Hi! I am Olivia as you probably read above. What you probably didn't know is that I am a Girl Scout finishing my Silver Award Project.

Because the need for libraries in Africa is that high and we have an overabundance of unused books here, my project was about improving the process of how we organize book drives. If we can make it easier and more efficient, we can ship more and better libraries.

As I was writing my final report, it dawned on me that other book drive organizers and people just starting out would also benefit from my learnings. Since we are shipping our 26th library, we know some dos and don'ts. Here are my tips:

In the beginning we shipped a library as soon as we had the required number of eligible books – with no consideration about the balance of books we were including. While a library created this way is better than no library, a good library needs a good variety of books for different reading levels and books about different topics.

By keeping a stash of books and sorting them by topic, we can now better plan for a more balanced library. This one improvement has greatly increased the quality of the libraries ensuring that each school receives a wide range of books, all age appropriate. So, if you do have the space and plan to ship more than one library, I do suggest you try this. Not only will it keep you organized, but your library will have a little of everything! Organizing book drives is so rewarding and you don't have to stop after the first!

What I also learned is that a lot of books we get that are not eligible still are very valuable to other readers. By selling them to Book Buyers, you get credit you can use to buy books on topics you are short of. Book Buyers is a used book store you can sell your books to earn store credit. I highly suggest this useful tip.

Besides collecting books, the other hard part is raising the funds. I tried different ways to make money, but my conclusion is that the best way is still telling the ALP story, showing pictures and writing thank you notes and asking for donations. Initially I was uncomfortable doing it, but I got such good response that now it is much easier. And it is a great way to involve people that don't have children's books.


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About the African Library Project

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