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!
Thank you, Laura. Reviews like this warm our hearts:)
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.
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:)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!?
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!
African Library Project has made such an impact in my life. I am an immigrant from Kenya, Africa and when I came to America, I stepped into a library for the first time. In Africa I had never been exposed to any books besides the textbooks we got in school. My grandmother who raised me was illiterate so there were no books around the house. Since I stepped into the library for the first time, I fell in love with libraries. I began to dream of building libraries in Africa to help other Africans get the opportunity to step into a library like I did. African Library Project helped me accomplish this dream of mine at 16 years old. I got to reach out to my whole community for gently used books. I set up barrels at church and at school. It was just amazing how people I did not even know brought books to me.The organization requires you to collect a 10000 books. When I first saw this number I thought that it would be extremely hard to raise this many books but, it was not. People are extremely generous, I collected about 5000 books. Through out this whole project the organization was great in supporting me. I would email them and immediately receive answers. I am really grateful for this organization and the wonderful work they are doing. I now know that children in Africa who are just like my childhood self will receive the books that I never had growing up.
What a treat to read the huge impact ALP has had not only in Africa, but for American kids doing book drives. In this case, a Kenyan kid doing a book drive in America. Kudos to this young woman on making her dreams come true! ALP requires 1000 books, not 10,000 to do a book drive.
I began volunteering for the African Library Project (ALP) in January 2012. For the last several years, I have worked with a variety of non-profits to raise awareness on human rights and literacy. ALP by far is one of the most organized non-profits I have worked with, which is made even more impressive by the fact that the organization is driven solely by volunteers. For a business model like this to operate successfully, it takes incredible dedication and passion from each individual.
ALP impacts not only those throughout Africa, but also our book drive organizers and their communities. ALP offers volunteers a concrete opportunity to make a real, significant, and lasting difference in the lives of children and adults in African villages. Many of these regions never before had libraries, and had limited--or no--access to books. I love that instead of used books winding up in the trash, they are saved and given to people who truly cherish them.
My time with ALP has been very rewarding. It has been a pleasure getting to know our board members, our book drive organizers, and our partners in Africa. I am very much looking forward to watching ALP grow in the coming years.
Monique, we so appreciate the time, talent and ideas you have brought to the board. Thanks for all that you do. We look forward to more of it:)
African Library Project has given us such a wonderful opportunity to change the lives of many people. My class of 1st graders have gone out to collect money and books to make a library in Botswana. Many of them still in process of learning how to read were very excited with the idea of helping children whom they never met in another continent to learn how to read. Chris from ALP came to the classroom for a presentation. Within a short period of time, the whole school was involved in collecting the books. A little girl had gone around knocking door to door to collect the shipping money for the books. Mothers have come to help packing, and fathers have come to take the boxes to the post office. Everyone got involved and in everyone's heart there was warmth serving a community. It became an unforgettable life learning event for the 1st graders.
This was such a special book drive done by about 20 first graders, most of whom are immigrants. Can you imagine? A six year old went door-to-door on her own initiative and raised enough money to ship the entire library! Chikako, thank you for the leadership you provided and for this lovely review.
As a special gift to honor my wife's retirement from her elementary teaching career, I contacted Chris at ALP to ask her thoughts on the idea. Her excitement matched mine, as Pam (my spouse)had been her school-bus seatmate some 48+ yrs ago in rural Indiana! Chris then guided me through the starting process, partnered us with Laura Hill (terrific) and set us up with our two ALP schools in Swaziland. With book donations from community members, friends, and neighbors, as well as, our own two girls libraries, and our fabulous support from city government leaders and the entire elementary school staff/students, we met our goal of 2000+ books in time for a road trip over Spring-break to New Orleans. With a van loaded with 28+ boxes, we delivered our ALP to the warehouse for shipment to Africa. No words can really express the feeling of accomplishment we had upon unloading our cargo. The entire experience working with Chris and Co. was nothing short of magical. To see how happy this gift made Pam, how special it made me feel, and how encouraged we are for the future of these libraries is simply incredible. Already have a big start on the next ALP for our elementary school this next year!! If this group of dedicated people were an Olympic-judged event, they would clearly receive perfect 10's across the board.
Holy Smokers, Tom! You are too sweet! You and Pam have been so fun to work with. I'm stoked that you are planning to do it again next year:) Was it really 48 years? Oy!
I have been working with ALP for over a year now and I have been impressed with their energy, efficiency and dedication on every project that I have been a part of. Chris started this non-profit with a blank slate and where she has taken it over the last 7 years is quite astounding. With true grass roots efforts, African Library Project brings generations and cultures together to truly make the world a better place. I hope to be a part of this wonderful organization for many years to come.
Oh, Leslie! No one could be happier than we are to have you working with us or prouder of your work. I'm thrilled to hear you want to be part of us for years to come because we are not letting you go:)
ALP has done such an amazing job changing lives in African villages. Education and knowledge are the gateways to understanding and respect.
Bettina, thank you so much for your support and interest in our work...and thank you for this lovely review.
My school district has started 18 libraries in the last 5 years by partnering with the African Library Project. It has become a passion for many of us to get books in the hands of school children. We began by just getting 1000 books, but the longer we collect, the more specific we have become. For instance, now we always make sure there are at least 10-12 books about African children. We like to include a box that has educational games and flashcards. Then there is a book of over 500 children's poems that has newer poems and some old classics, like, "Grandpa dropped his glasses in a pot of dye" and "Once there was an elephant who tried to use the telephant" that we like to include. Of course, no children's library is complete without Dr. Seuss. When we get feedback from a library that we start in Africa that the teacher stays late at the school because the people of the town want to come and check out books from the school, our hearts almost burst. What a wonderful way to share from our plenty!
Your school district has set an amazing example of what is possible when a small community in the US puts its energy towards helping small communities in rural Africa. Missouri's Lindberg School District has decided to follow in your footsteps and I hope they are half as successful and just as heartfull as your school district, Nicki.
My sister and I started with a goal of collecting 1000 books to start one library with the African Library Project. We had a team of neighborhood 5th grade girls, retired teachers and community volunteers. We were having so much fun and collecting so many books that we were able to start 3 libraries in Africa. We like the organization and believe in the work so much that my sister and I decided to go to Zimbabwe last Fall to attend the bi-annual conference with other volunteers. The experience was fabulous. We met librarians, students and administrators who are so appreciative to have books in their schools and communities to help the learning process. Sending our gently used books to areas that have no or few books opens a whole new world for children to read, learn and explore. The African Library Project is a GREAT Nonprofit!
I love how you and Judy involved the community in your book drive, from the neighborhood children to the school, and the restaurant that gave a free side dish when someone donated a book and the servers donated their tips to help with shipping! You guys were an amazing behind-the-scenes force at the Swazi Summit. Thanks for the review and for demonstrating what a beautiful thang neighborhood book drives are!
My middle school library has been holding an annual book drive for the African Library Project since it started. Chris devised a user-friendly process that makes it easy for those running the book drives. That is why this organization is so successful at what it does -- because of her great organizational skills!!! And because it is such a worthwhile goal.
Thanks for the review, Annie! Jordan Middle School has made a huge impact in the lives of thousands and thousands of African students through their annual book drives. You guys rock! - Chris
I've been on the board since 2010 and look forward to serving another term when this one is complete. I feel great about the time I spend knowing that the libraries we send are such a valued and precious resource. I have also done a book drive and loved the experience of collecting and packing up the books. I only planned to collect 1,000 but they came pouring in and I was able to collect 3,000 books--enough for 3 libraries.
Thanks, Deborah! You are part of the backbone of this organization. I'm so impressed with your steady, creative, significant contributions to the board and ALP.