African Library Project

Silicon Valley Library Project

04/24/2016 to 08/21/2016
Atherton 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 ...

Hello there! My name is Helena Ong and I am organizing a book drive in the Silicon Valley.

Our project, located around the Bay Area in California, is working to collect 1000+ books and $500 (shipping costs) to found library in Sierra Leone. We are collecting books for pre-schoolers through 8th grade and any monetary sum—every dollar counts! (If we are able to raise above the shipping costs of $500, the money will go toward buying books for the drive.)

If you are finishing up the school year, please donate books! More so if you heading to the bookstore for summer reading, pick up one more for charity and bring it to us!

If you are located in the Bay Area and would like to get involved, contact us below and we'll be excited to have you join the team!

Like us on Facebook and stay tune for announcements!

Update: We have finished our campaign and we were able to collect our 1000 books, thank you to everyone who participated!

Our website link:

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

Hello! My name is Helena. I’m going to tell you a secret: books are my secret weapon.

I grew up with the privilege of having readily available education that allowed me to pick up reading at a young age. Growing up, reading no matter the content—whether it was a physics theory book that I didn’t understand or culture magazines—meant everything to me. Especially at a young age, the act of reading was empowering, being able and think about these ideas that books offered. Even as I got older, I think I began to really understand and appreciate books as they became another teacher to me.

They taught me how to handle situations I probably would have cracked under. Various characters in novels and real-life people and situations featured in magazines became a role model for me to be kind, courageous, and imaginative. Novels on human nature helped me to better understand both the good and the bad in the world. Books in topics of math and science, subjects that I normally hated, interested me where perhaps class and teachers couldn’t.

A lot of people talk about reading books for escapism. But for me, books helped me to face the world—and I do not think I am alone in that sentiment. Especially now, in a world where no one is safe from struggle and hardships, I genuinely believe that literacy and reading can be an incredible thing to have at your side. As the titular character says in the British TV show, Doctor Who, "You want weapons? We're in a library. Books are the best weapon in the world. This room's the greatest arsenal we could have. Arm yourself!”

Books continue to be part of my life; in fact, I work as an intern at a literary agency in New York. I genuinely believe in the power that books hold in creating stronger communities and individuals and I hope that you can also join us in making it a reality for others as well.

About our African Partners...

Sierra Leone, community library:

Sierra Leone is a country located in West Africa. Since the destruction of over 1,200 primary schools in their Civil War, they have worked resiliently to improve the education and continue to make great strides. However, more than half the population over 15 years of age are illiterate. Among girls, despite a 75.6 attendance ratio in primary school, only 33.2% are able to attend secondary school.

A large part of the issue is that resources for education are not as easily available. That is why our project is creating a book drive to help found a community library that would make such resources to develop education and literacy. Sierra Leone has strong historical ties with the US involving slavery and diamond trade. It is estimated that 33% of African Americans are of Sierra Leonean descent. The country is also incredibly diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds and yet it remains one of the least developed countries with a life expectancy of 48. Education remains essential to growth.

Facts & Reading:

Please contribute these kinds of books...

Community library: preschool to 8th grade reading level.

We are mostly looking for paperback books, although we will also accept hardcovers. Here are some genres of books that we are looking for:
- Children’s picture books
- Children’s fiction and non-fiction
- Early readers
- BIG books
- Teacher's resource books for school libraries
- Dictionaries
- Thesauruses
- Encyclopedias less than 15 years old
- Paperback textbooks in math, English, geography, health, and science
- Books with universal themes (friendships, animals, love)
- Accurate up-to-date atlases
- Books about Africa or African-Americans
- Educational children's science and literary magazines in good condition
- Juvenile literature
- Life skills books about health, hygiene, adolescence, careers, etc.
- Books like Chicken Soup for the Soul (inspiring stories with life skills lessons)
- Agriculture
- Animal husbandry
- Gardening
- Health
- Business
- Current events
- Ecology
- National Geographic, less than 5 years old, especially with articles featuring Africa.

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

We begin collecting books May 1, 2016 and officially end our drive on August 20, 2016, giving you a lot of time to get involved and donate to our drive!

We will be setting up locations around the Bay Area for you to drop off books and will keep you posted about it here! You can also follow our Facebook page for updates and announcements for drop-offs.

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

We will be letting you know very soon (in the next week) drop off locations for books around the Bay Area.
We will also be raising funds through our GoFundMe page (coming soon!) for shipping costs and to buy more books on our own (if you don't have the time to go buy a book, donate here!)
We will also be hosting events through the summer so stay tuned for that! (You can follow us on Facebook for updates and announcements as well.)

If you have questions, are interesting in getting involved, or just want to know more, feel free to contact me at

Contact us to find out more

Name: Helena

Progress Report

Our Goal 1000 books $500 fundraising
Results so far
(updated: 7/14/2016)
1000 books $ fundraising

We reached our thousand book goal, thank you to everyone who has participated!

Like us on Facebook at:


We are so excited about having achieved our goal and are so grateful to Resurrection Catholic School and St. Nicholas Catholic School! We really appreciate the help and everyone who donated books and money. Thank you so much!

Tips for Other Book Drive Organizers

Reach out to the local schools around your area! Having attended Catholic school, I reached out to a lot of the schools that I was familiar with. Especially at the end of the school year, a lot of schools are cleaning out their library and getting rid of duplicates or books that aren't read much. A lot of these include global history books which I think made great additions to our drive, especially because they featured stories and narratives of Africa. I think it was very important to try and include stories with African characters or narratives because the children who will be reading these books won't be able to relate to a lot of "American narratives" such as Thanksgiving stories or American history stories--a lot of which we ended up weeding out of our collection at the end.

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About the African Library Project

Learn more about the African Library Project at
You can 'like' us at - get updates, inspiration and more!