African Library Project

Frequently Asked Questions

Africans speak so many languages. Why send books in English?

Most secondary education in Africa requires fluency in English or French. We start libraries only in countries that require children to read and write in English in order to complete their secondary school education.

What age children are your libraries targeting?

We receive requests for books for pre-school, elementary school, secondary school and community libraries. Our books are read by all ages, especially children.

Why do you send only children’s books?

African reading levels are lower than US levels.  With poor access to reading materials and learning to read in a second language, literacy tops out, even for teachers, at about the 8th grade U.S. level in the rural areas where we work.

Does sending all these books lessen the possibility of support of books from African authors and publishers?

There are few or no publishers in some of the countries where we work.  Most of our libraries are in schools that barely have textbooks and do not have the funds to purchase books which are very expensive in Africa.  We hope that in the not too distant future, there will be many African readers, writers and publishers.  For this reason, we are a sponsor for the Golden Baobab Prize. Without books, children have nothing to read. Without reading, children are not inspired to become writers or publishers.

Many books that have been sent to Africa by other groups are totally inappropriate.  What makes ALP's books different?

First, we provide detailed sorting guidelines to our book drive organizers.  Our book drive organizers raise the money to pay for shipping expenses, so they have a financial incentive to send appropriate books.  Finally, each book drive organizer is matched with a specific library project and receives information about the types of books their African match has requested.

How do you know the books are being well used?

It is a challenge to track the progress of libraries set up in remote areas, often without electricity or telephones. We use a tracking system that uses cell phone texting technology to monitor progress and to identify libraries that need additional training or support.

I know a place in Africa that needs a library.  Can you help?

We often get requests from Africa and the US to help a specific, single community, but we are not able to support single library projects.  Our model is highly efficient and economical because we ship 30-60 libraries at a time in sea containers.  Thus, we partner with large organizations in Africa that have enough infrastructure to support the development of 30-60 library projects per year, year after year.

If you represent an organization in Africa that is actively working to support the development of many libraries annually, please contact us to explore the possibility of partnership.

I would like to volunteer to work in Africa with your libraries.  Is this possible?

We currently do not have the ability to take volunteers in Africa, but we welcome volunteers in the U.S. Just contact us.

I have lots of used books. Where should I bring them?

Great! Check the ‘Sorting your books’ section of the guidelines to identify which of your books are appropriate to send (primarily children’s books). Consider organizing a book drive and making your own books the first part of the collection. If you are unable to organize a book drive, contact us to see if there is a book drive near you where you can donate your books.

What kinds of schools volunteer to collect and send books? Can younger children help?

Children of all ages are already making a difference! Elementary, middle, high schools and colleges are all sponsoring book drives for the African Library Project.

Our school would like to collect books, but we don’t have an easy way to raise money to ship the books. Can we still participate?

We can help you with ideas about how to raise the funds to cover shipping costs. Fortunately, you are able to ship the books to Africa at a very low rate, about 1000 paperback books for about $500. Simply use the U.S. Postal Service Media Mail rate to mail your books to our shipper’s warehouse (about $200-$300), then send a check to us for $250 to cover the overseas shipping and related expenses. Check out the fundraising or  Book Drives in Action sections of our website for ideas.

I don’t have books to donate, but I would like to support this project. Can I make a donation?

Of course! We appreciate any contribution you can make. Our biggest expenses are teacher-librarian training, HIV/AIDS children’s readers, and fees to ship the books to Africa. You can donate online here.

Are donations tax-deductible?

Yes! We are a registered 501(c)3 organization.  Our Fed Tax ID# is 65-1261685.