African Library Project

The Stories We Tell: Our Blog

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Across the world, books have made a resounding impact. Whether it be contemporary stories depicting heart-wrenching accounts of what it means to be human or stories that transport readers to fantastical realms, books are a celebrated artform with deep-rooted cultural significance.  It is often believed that literacy culture and support for books isn’t common in Africa, but countries across the African continent have long histories and current activism in celebrating books and promoting reading culture.

Guest blogger, Don Casperson of Kiwanis Club of Los Alamos, NM shares his experience as a book drive organizer, creating libraries for Kenya with the help of his community's youth:

It is with great joy that I undertook to help with the African Library Project under the enthusiastic direction of Sharon Allen. As a Kiwanis advisor to two of the three Los Alamos elementary school K-Kids clubs, our middle school Builders Club, and our high school Key Club, I am proud of the effort they demonstrated last year as we collected books, boxed them up, and carried out fundraisers to pay for shipping to Africa. All seven of our public schools (five elementary, one middle school, and one high school) participated in the town-wide effort that resulted in libraries for many Kenyan schools.

Guest blogger, Uxue Sansiñena of Chamisa Elementary School K-Kids in Los Alamos, NM details their experience working with youth book drive organizers.

Dear African Library Project,

As a K-Kids member, I have been able to see how we have affected communities from here in Los Alamos, all the way to communities in Africa. The African Library Project has really helped us impact other people’s lives. To begin this project we watched a presentation that showed us where the books would be going. It was exciting to see exactly how far the books would go!

Guest blogger, Coy Cross shares his introduction to the African Library Project and how he went for a one-time book drive organizer to send over 30,000 books to African youth.

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In March 2009, our friend Kay left to serve in the PeaceCorps in Lesotho, a small African country that I had not heard of before then.  A few months later an e-mail from Kay invited me to join the African Library Project (an organization I also had never heard of) to create a school library for children in Lesotho who had no books.

To continue their education beyond primary school, the children must pass an exam in English, their country’s official language, but not the children’s primary language. As a kid growing up in rural Kentucky, I remembered how precious books had been to me and readily agreed. My wife, meanwhile, had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and I was her caregiver. But gathering books and asking friends for financial support was something I could do while still being available to support her. With the help of a friend, I collected hundreds of books, but some were not appropriate for a school library. I talked with a local, used bookstore owner and learned I could swap adult books for others that elementary-aged children would enjoy. So by September 2009, I had over 1,000 books and about $500 to pay for shipping to Lesotho.