African Library Project

The Stories We Tell: Our Blog

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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.

donate books to africaAt the recent Summit in Botswana, Board Members and volunteers from the US saw firsthand that our libraries are thriving, and the teacher librarians have a great deal to teach each other and us.

Pictured here are the first-time Summit delegates Joel Wakesa from Rongo University and Abbas Swaleh from Project Humanity, who soaked up our best practices and contributed new ideas about how to create great rural libraries in Western Kenya.

donating books to africa  Mike Gottfried led his first book drive in 2009 as a freshman at Penn State.  When his professor learned from a former student in the Peace Corps that children in Africa have few books, his professor put together a team to organize that first book drive, and Mike joined the team.

“As I reached out to my hometown and books came in," Mike said, “I realized I had too many books and needed to organize my own drive out of my home town in Roxbury, New Jersey as well.”  He led book drives three of the four years he was at Penn State, collecting books there and in his home town.

After college, he returned to Roxbury where he teaches high school Earth Science and Physics.  As an advisor to the Key Club, he works with club members to conduct book drives.

In his years as a book drive organizer, Mike has collected 90,000 books and created 68.5 libraries.  “It’s a lot easier than it seems.  People are eager to help.”