AFRICAN LIBRARY PROJECT

Rating: 5 stars   33 reviews

Issues: International

Location: 5 Thistle Street Portola Valley CA 94028 USA

Mission: The African Library Project starts and improves small libraries in sub-Saharan Africa to promote literacy and education.
Results: Since 2005, we have started or improved 1,481 small libraries in Botswana, Cameroon, Lesotho, Malawi, Nigeria, Swaziland, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Ghana. We have made over 1100 partnerships in the U.S. with schools, companies, individuals, youth groups, Scouts, and families. We have shipped over 1,500,000 books to Africa serving over 1.5 million readers.
Target demographics: Africans, especially students, who have no access to books and information
Direct beneficiaries per year: 250,000 readers in new/improved libraries.
Geographic areas served: Botswana, Ghana, Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Sierra Leone and South Africa
Programs: small libraries in rural areas, librarian training and best practice Summits for our partners in Africa.
2014 Top-Rated Nonprofit
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

I've done six book drives now, with my most recent soon to be on its way to Ghana. This is a project that connects children, communities, and people in the US and in Africa with one another. I typically solicit donations from people at work, from schools, and from my community. I always meet new people and am able to spread the joy that comes from making a real difference in the world with this project. Being a hardcore bookworm, it is by far my favorite, and the most impactful work I do. The best part is the light on people's faces when they bring me their book selections; those who love to read love to share that with others, and knowing these may well be the first books children receive is all the more precious.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Continue to spread the word. It is easier and more fulfilling than you might think to start a book drive.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2014

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

Running a book drive for African Library Project was one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had as a volunteer. I received letters from teachers, librarians, and the school principal about how excited they were to receive the books I would be sending. African Library Project does a fantastic job at finding people and schools who will really appreciate the effort of volunteers and will put the books to good use. The fact that African Library Project is completely volunteer-run never ceases to amaze me. Anyone who has the time and the resources should hold a book drive!

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

A lot

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 

Thank you, Laura. Reviews like this warm our hearts:)

Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

The African Library Project is an amazing group of volunteers working tireleslly to promote education and literacy in some of the most remote regions in Africa. They are professional courteous and we are thrilled to have discovered them and be able to work with them. Without their hard work we would not have been able to make as much as an impact. There knowledge and experience is a beacon of light and it is an honor to work with them.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

They have clear and understandable policies, but it would be nice if they worked in more countries and serviced higher education institutions.

How does this organization compare with others in the same sector?

Very Well

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you recommend this organization to others?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 

Thanks, Yosef! We love Books4Cause, too! You do such a phenomenal job in the Chicago area. I'm so glad you are headed to Botswana in November:)

Rating: 5 stars  

The African Library Project has a unique and tremendously effective relationship with African partners in six (and counting!) countries. It is this partnership, along with model of organizing book drives in the U.S. to supply beautiful, gently used books to rural schools and communities in Africa that led me to be on the ALP board for six years and continue involvement as a volunteer and donor. Can you imagine an all-volunteer organization that can establish over 1,000 libraries in just seven years -- with lots of book-drive organizers thanking ALP for the privilege of collecting books and funds for shipping them? And wanting to do another book drive? This happens often because the process is fun and rewarding, and it works.

ALP's African partners are dedicated in receiving the book shipping containers, delivering them to the new school and community libraries, training the teacher-librarians, and following up. I have visited dozens of the libraries with ALP-donated books and seen the pleasure and learning the books bring to African children and adults.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Spread the word even more about the joy of giving books a second life in Africa and promote more messages/videos from ALP's African partners and post them on ALP's website and Facebook pages.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

The African Library Project stands out in a crowded field of non-profits:

- It provides real, working libraries where they are needed most. ALP never sends money, just books and a bit of technical assistance to turn gently used books into working libraries that are available to communities where books are truly scarce.

- It puts quality ahead of quantity. ALP has clear criteria to send books that are most wanted and needed to improve literacy and develop a reading culture in traditional African settings. They place a huge emphasis on working with local partner organizations that will follow-up to make sure libraries are well used.

- It attracts enthusiastic volunteers to run book drives from all over the USA, and most want to do it again! Children and adults love to give their beloved books to those who need them most.

- It is all volunteer (no paid staff.) The founder/director works full time for no pay, and she sets the tone for the volunteer Board of Directors to roll up its sleeves to get all the work done with an open heart and a warm smile.

- It is well-run. Its inspiring track record (over 1,000,000 books shipped) has attracted talented Board members who understand the problems and opportunities of providing development assistance to Africa.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Let more people know about ALP and its book drives. It is so easy and so powerful to start a library in Africa! ALP has grown from 0 to over 1,000 libraries through (mostly) word of mouth. ALP is positioned to scale rapidly to increase its impact in Africa.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of advisors?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

My experience with ALP has been tremendous as it has enhanced Wungwero Book Foundation's expertise in facilitating the creation of rural libraries and the development of the relationships and connections necessary for the sustenance of those libraries. Books donated by ALP through WBF have touched the lives of many young, rural boys and girls who desire books for their education.

Our partnership with ALP has also helped WBF realise one of its objectives to train teacher-librarians, which is uniquely suited to rural/small libraries in Malawian schools. These staff development initiatives are strengthened by the inclusion of best practices developed by other regional ALP partners, enabling the teacher-librarians support of advocacy initiatives in the promotion of the use of libraries and the development of a reading culture.

Finally, my association with ALP has been one of personal professional enrichment as it has raised my profile and I have been able to offer my professional epertise to a wide, rural disadvantaged community which I wouldn't without ALP.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

If it were possible to considering revisting the libraries they have helped with donations since the one-time donation is normally not enough.

How would you describe the help you got from this organization?

Life-changing

How likely are you to recommend this organization to a friend?

Definitely

How do you feel you were treated by this organization?

Very Well

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

My experience with the African Library Project has been life-changing, not only for myself but for the hundreds of thousands of children in Africa over the next couple generations that will benefit from our efforts. The book drive I was a part of collected over 55,000 children's books, starting 47.5 libraries throughout 5 different countries of Africa. While the collection of books and funds to ship comes from book drives like ours, it takes an organization like the African Library Project to centralize these efforts and coordinate the logistics behind such a monumental project. They have sparked an educational revolution and created a streamlined process to provide a vital cornerstone of education to schools that otherwise wouldn't have any books. My experiences with the African Library Project have shaped the leader I am today, while helping spread literacy abroad.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Amplify publicity efforts to get this organization a wider reach and ultimately improve the impacts they have in Africa.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

Our family of 5 just completed our first library through the ALP. It is humbling how very little it takes to make such a difference in the lives of children. Thank you, ALP, for the opportunity to serve! It was an incredible experience, and I'm sure we'll be volunteering again soon.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

ALP makes it so easy to see a positive impact and results in service. Our 5th grader coordinated a book drive at his intermediate school and the response was overwhelming. The students really relate to the need for books and the critical role of reading in a child's life. His classmates struggled to find age-appropriate service projects of their own, so many of them joined in on his packing party and brought books, supplies and a giving spirit. ALP's directions and guidance made all the difference. We could never do this alone without ALP's structure in place. It's easy, effective, and leave a permanent and lasting effect on the world. What could be better!?

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Likely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful? 
Rating: 5 stars  

I signed up for my first library through the African Library Project over a year ago, with the shipment date last May 15. Just today I delivered my 8th African library to the post office to begin its journey to Malawi. This organization is completely run by volunteers on the US, so there's no money going into someone's pocket somewhere. Impressively, ALP partners with NGOs in the destination countries to ensure that the books shipped actually become functioning libraries.
I had to stop working due to health reasons, and collecting, cleaning, sorting, packing and shipping books for the libraries can be done when and how I am able: I get to volunteer in a meaningful way without having to go to meetings, deal with politics, or be expected to show up on a regular basis. The organization-level volunteers take care of all the nitty-gritty organizational things so I get to focus solely on assembling and sending libraries to schools and communities who have few to no books. What an honor and pleasure!
Since I'm an individual contributor, I buy the majority of the books I send, although I do accept (and receive) donations from friends, relatives and sometimes from strangers. Something that feels good to me is that the books I buy mostly come from organizations I am happy to support: our local public library, hospice and free clinic; ARC, United Cerebral Palsy, the American Cancer Society, and a local charity thrift shop that helps support the battered women's shelter and other worthy causes. So my purchases are win-win, helping my local community and helping to transform communities in several African countries (Malawi, Botswana, Lesotho and Ghana so far, for me).
As a lifelong reader and book lover who wants to do something meaningful, it doesn't get much better than this!

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Set up a system for library donors to be informed when their libraries reach their final destination. Otherwise, no changes. The organization is wonderful, giving help where needed, allowing as much choice as possible, and staying in the background otherwise. I love working through the African Library Project.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2013

Was this review helpful?