By Ogova Ondego
Published December 18, 2015
A British literature charity that works in partnership with libraries in 11 African countries and the Palestinian Territory to distribute books and learning resources and to train librarians has sent more than a million books to the world’s second most populous continent in 2015.
Book Aid International has beaten all previous annual book donation by dispatching 1,120,915 “brand new, carefully selected books to African libraries” in 2015.
The books sent range from board books for babies and primary level children’s books right through to university level texts, adult leisure reading and vocational and technical books to support skills acquisition.
According to Jessica Faulkner, Head of Communications at Book Aid International, the charity, which is based in Camberwell, South East London, supports more than “3400 libraries through book provision, library service development and training. In 2014 it topped one million books for the first time, a total which has now been beaten in 2015.”
The last shipment of 2015, which left on December 17, is headed for libraries in Uganda.
Faulkner says the increased number of books could be attributed to “the generosity of the publishing sector, which donates more than 90% of the books supplied to libraries by the charity, the consistent and ongoing support of the charity’s funders and supporters, the hard work of its small team of staff and volunteers [and] an improved warehouse inventory system [which] has also helped the charity to speed up its operations.”
Saying each book that leaves the Book Aid International warehouse in Camberwell has been selected by the charity’s team of professional librarians according to the needs of their library partners in Africa, the Communications head says “Book Aid supports more than 3400 libraries in schools, universities, cities, slums, remote villages, prisons, hospitals and refugee camps. It also runs specialist programmes in partnership with their library partners including the establishment of Children’s Corners in African public libraries, a school book box library scheme, librarian training and the provision of medical and healthcare books and information.”
Book Aid is in 2016 planning to launch a programme called Inspiring Readers, which will supply book box libraries to more than 300 African schools, Faulkner says.
Alison Hubert, Director of Book Aid International, says, “Books are scarce in many of the communities where we work so we are delighted to have been able to send over 1.1 million books to the libraries we support in 2015. We work closely with our partners in Africa to ensure the books we send are useful and relevant and we are delighted that even more of these carefully selected books will now be on the shelves in libraries that need them the most. We believe everyone should have the opportunity to read and increasing the volume of books we send is one way that we can provide this chance for more people. We couldn’t have achieved this milestone without the support of the UK publishing industry, our generous supporters and the hard work and dedication of our staff and volunteers.”
Book Aid International provides new books, resources and training to support an environment in which reading for pleasure, study and lifelong learning can flourish. The charity’s vision, Faulkner says, is of vibrant libraries that inspire readers and empower communities.