African Library Project

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African Library Project
Founded 2005
Founder Chris Bradshaw
Focus Literacy
Area served
Sub-Saharan Africa
Slogan 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, Sierra Leone, South Africa, and Swaziland.

ALP is a US 501(c)3 organization founded in 2005 by Chris Bradshaw.[1] In the first ten years of operation, ALP started over 1,600 libraries in sub-Saharan Africa.[2]

Methods of operation[edit]

ALP volunteers in the United States collect used, donated books for later shipment to affiliated libraries in Africa. The volunteers then sort, pack, and ship the books via sea container, for eventual delivery to a designated African school or community.[3]

A typical small library is one thousand (mostly paperback) books. As of August 2015, the cost of shipping 1,000 books to their African destination is about $500, including $250 in U.S. domestic postage to mail the books to a consolidation point in New Orleans, LA, by USPS Media Mail, and $250 sent to ALP to defray the costs of container shipping.

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.[4] In Botswana, the ALP partner is the Botswana Ministry of Education. In Ghana, the ALP partner is the Michael Lapsley Foundation.[5] In Lesotho, the ALP partners are US Peace Corps Lesotho[6] and the Ministry of Education and Training. In Malawi, the ALP partners are DAPP Malawi,[7] Wungwero Book Foundation, and Malawi Institute of Education.[8] In Sierra Leone, the partner is RISE Network; in South Africa, the partner is Breadline Africa.[9] In Swaziland, the ALP partner is Fundza.

Teachers and administrators of the target schools are given a manual on managing a library that is based on one 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.

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.

In order to help promote African writers, ALP is a sponsor of The Golden Baobab Prize for children's stories by African writers.[10]


  1. ^ Moody, Shelah (July 9, 2006). "JEFFERSON AWARD: Presented to Chris Bradshaw / Trip to Africa planted seed that blossomed into library project". San Francisco Chronicle. 
  2. ^ Risley, Michealene. "The African Library Project Goal: Eradicate Illiteracy in Africa". Huffington Post. 
  3. ^ ElKorchi, Miriam (May 7, 2013). "Chris Bradshaw ships books to Africa to help make the impossible possible". Christian Science Monitor. 
  4. ^ "Reading Initiative Salone (RISE) Network trains 50 librarians". Sierra Express Media. July 21, 2015. 
  5. ^ "Michael Lapsley Foundation". 
  6. ^ "US Peace Corps Lesotho". 
  7. ^ "DAPP Malawi". 
  8. ^ "Malawi Institute of Education". 
  9. ^ "Breadline Africa". 
  10. ^ "Golden Baobab Prize". 

External links[edit]