African Library Project

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Guest blogger, Michael Gottfried details his journey with African Library Project and sending libraries to African youth.

It was a crisp fall afternoon in October 2009, when my professor, Dr. Jim Nolan, asked our Education Freshman Seminar a question that would not only influence my Penn State experience and impact my life, but change the lives of many others as well. 

Dr. Nolan explained how a former student was working in the Peace Corps in Lesotho, and how his school was in dire need of books to help improve the quality of education.  That student reached out to Dr. Nolan and explained how an organization called the African Library Project helped schools like his, and he encouraged Penn State to get involved.  On that autumn afternoon, Dr. Nolan brought the idea to our class, explained its impact and pitched the idea to us.  He asked, “Who is willing to step up and take the lead on this?” 

I don’t usually make decisions or commitments that quickly.  With a split second to decide, I chose to take the risk and raise my hand.  As a future teacher, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to help others, while helping improve education. 

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books for africaOne of the secrets to ALP’s success in creating libraries is the work and commitment of its librarians. The following guest blog tells the story of what motivates one librarian in a village in Malawi and why he wants to do more. By organizing a book drive, you can help him and librarians throughout Malawi realize their dreams for the children in their communities.

My name is Emmanuel Mchintha.  I am sixth born in a family of nine. I am a librarian by profession, holding a Bachelor of Library and Information Science at Mzuzu University in Malawi.

Currently am serving as children's librarian in Nkhata-bay, a center that I have established. I am responsible for coordinating activities that promote reading interest among children. That leads to the enhancement of the reading culture in the school-learners surrounding the library. I have a passion for reading, and I believe reading can transform the lives of the children in the community.

books for africa

When Sheila Lenius, Madison, WI. Girl Scout leader learned about how volunteers working with the African Library Project can create libraries, she could see that a book drive would be a perfect project for her daughters’ first and fourth-grade troops.

“I feel bad that there are schools with no libraries with no books, and we have so much in the United States,” she said. “Even children living in poverty in this country have more than the children in Africa.  I want to make a difference.”

Guest speakers who had lived in Africa talked to the girls about living conditions in Africa.  Their presentations, “opened the girls’ eyes about the world outside Wisconsin.”

donate books to africa

Changing lives book by book is the African Library Project’s tagline.  But do you ever wonder exactly how ALP libraries change lives? 

What follows is a thank you letter from the teacher-librarian at Middlepits Primary School in Middlepits, Botswana in which she explains the impact of the ALP library at her school. 

This thank you letter tells the story.


Dear ALP,

Our school has been struggling in the past years and producing extremely below average grades. Shortage of learning resources, such as books, was then identified as one of the major causes of such a painful experience.  Since the birth of our school in 1987, achieving quality performance has been an uphill challenge, which is clearly indicated by the school performance in the Primary School Leaving Examination results.