Book Aid International
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Book Aid International is a UK registered charity which provides books and supports libraries in Africa and around the world. Every year the charity sends around one million new books to public and community libraries as well as libraries in prisons, refugee camps, hospitals, schools and universities. The charity works in close partnership with libraries and also helps libraries develop their services through its library support projects and programmes. In 2016, an estimated 29.8 million people read the books which Book Aid International provided.
Book Aid International was founded in 1954 by The Rt Hon. Hermione, Countess of Ranfurly, after she moved to the Bahamas with her husband, The 6th Earl of Ranfurly, an Ulster-Scots nobleman who was Governor of the Bahamas. Upon touring the islands, Lady Ranfurly was shocked at the lack of reading materials available.
In response, Lady Ranfurly founded the Ranfurly Out Island Library service to provide books in the Bahamas. Over the years, she expanded her work throughout the Commonwealth of Nations and set up an organisation called The Ranfurly Library Service in London. In 1994, the Ranfurly Library Service changed its name to Book Aid International.
In 2007 the Department for International Development ended its funding agreement with Book Aid International, requiring them to reduce in staff and countries they work in. It is now entirely funded by a range of trusts, companies and individuals.
In 2014, the organisation celebrated its 60th anniversary. Since 2012, it has been directed by Alison Tweed (maiden name Brown), who replaced Clive Nettleton. In 2014, Lord Boateng became the charity’s Chair.
In 2016, Book Aid International sent 1,032,610 to 3,583 libraries in 14 countries.
Major book donors
Book Aid International is supported by many publishers who donate books to the charity which Book Aid International then sends onto libraries overseas. The charity only donates new books.
Major book donors include:
- Andersen Press
- Baker Books
- The British Library
- Co-ordination Group Publishing
- Cambridge University Press
- Harlequin Mills & Boon
- Hachette UK
- International African Institute
- Miles Kelly
- Oxford University Press
- Penguin Random House
- RELX Group
- SAGE Publications
- Walker Books
- Zed Books
Countries of operation
The following countries receive significant donations of books from Book Aid International:
- Occupied Palestinian Territories
- Sierra Leone
- South Sudan
- Tanzania and Zanzibar
In 2008 Book Aid International launched a new strategy, 'Books Change Lives', to coincide with International Literacy Day (sept 8th 2008). The charity plans to raise £5m over 3 years to give more books to African countries. The campaign is supported by a number of celebrities: Sebastian Faulks hosted the launch. David Cameron, Boris Johnson, Dame Helen Mirren and Alan Rickman have all donated signed books to an auction in aid of the event.
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