African Library Project
|Area served||Sub-Saharan Africa|
|Motto||Changing Lives, Book by Book|
The African Library Project (ALP) is an all-volunteer organization that starts libraries in rural Africa. U.S. volunteers organize book drives and ship books to a library in Africa. ALP partners with governmental and non-governmental organizations in sub-Saharan Africa. The partners process applications from schools and communities that want libraries, distribute the books, and provide training. Schools and communities that receive books provide the library space and staffing. ALP works in Botswana, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, and Swaziland.
The role of U.S. book drive volunteers
To create a library, U.S. volunteers organize a local book drive to collect donations of gently used books that are suitable for African readers. The book drive organizers then sort, pack and ship the books via sea container to a designated African school or community.
A typical small library is one thousand (mostly paperback) books. As of this writing (February, 2011), the cost of shipping 1,000 books to their African destination is about $500, including $200 in U.S. domestic postage to mail the books to a consolidation point in New Orleans, LA, by USPS Media Mail, and $300 sent to ALP to defray the costs of container shipping.
The role of partner organizations in Africa
ALP partner organizations are large governmental and non-governmental organizations that vet schools and communities that want libraries. When the containers arrive, they contain books for 30-60 libraries. The partner organizations clear the books through customs and distribute them to the libraries. They provide training and oversight of the libraries. In Botswan, the ALP partner is the Botswana Ministry of Education. In Ghana, the ALP partner is the Michael Lapsley Foundation. In Lesotho, the ALP partners are US Peace Corps Lesotho and the Butha Buthe District of Education. In Malawi, the ALP partners are DAPP Malawi, Wungwero Book Foundation, and AYISE. In Swaziland, the ALP partners are Fundza and the Swaziland National Library Service.
The role of schools and communities that receive libraries
Teachers and administrators of the target schools are given a manual on managing a library that was developed by Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO). They complete an application process, which describes the needs and includes letters of request from teachers, students and sponsoring agencies, and documentation of the efforts being made to support the library (erecting a building, renovating a room, building shelves, etc.). Librarians collect data on usage and attend trainings provided by the partner organizations and ALP. Librarians from all the countries where ALP is working meet at the biannual Library Summit to share best practices.
Promoting Literacy and Education
Each library requests the specific types of books they need. ALP sends books with universal appeal or with specific relevance to Africa. In addition to the donated books, ALP sends a set of HIV/AIDS books written especially for African children.
Example of a Successful Project
Three fourth graders collected nearly 8,000 books without the help of adult volunteers. The three girls from Arundel School in San Carlos, California, also raised $2,000 to mail the books. With help from their friends, they sorted, packed and shipped 4,000 books to provide library collections in Botswana for Maitlamo, Ipeleng, Digawana and Maranyane Primary Schools. They gave local charities the 4,000 books that weren't suitable for Africa and donated their leftover shipping money to the African Library Project.
- The African Library Project Goal: Eradicate Illiteracy in Africa, Huffington Post