The African Library Project starts and improves small libraries in sub-Saharan Africa by coordinating book drives in the USA and Canada and partnering with African governments or NGOs.
In 2004, Chris Bradshaw and her family were pony trekking in the mountain kingdom of Lesotho in Southern Africa. When told there was just one library in the entire country, she couldn't stop thinking about US landfills clogged with books and the overflowing bookshelves of most American families. A discussion with the headman of a local village concluded with Chris offering to send books if the village would provide the space, staff, furniture and a committee of local citizens dedicated to the sustainability of the library. Two months later, the building was half completed and the village decided to assign the project to a US Peace Corps Volunteer scheduled to arrive. The PCV coincidentally turned out to be a retired librarian! Together, she and Chris started 5 libraries in Lesotho's Malealea Valley. These were the first 5 libraries of the now more than 1,700 libraries in 11 African countries started by the African Library Project. Anyone in the USA or southern Canada can help start a library by collecting 1,000 gently-used children's book and about USD$500 to cover the cost of shipping them.
Where We Work
What We Do
The African Library Project coordinates book drives in the USA and Canada. Each book drive is matched with a specific library project, currently in Lesotho, Swaziland, Botswana, Malawi, Sierra Leone and Ghana. The book drives mail their books to a warehouse in New Orleans where the boxes are consolidated with others into sea containers. We ship the books for 30-65 libraries at a time to our partners in Africa. Our partners vet the library applications, bring in the containers, distribute the books and train the teacher-librarians in basic library management. Each village or African school provides the space, furniture, staff and a library committee dedicated to the long term sustainability of the library. In 2015, we started 310 libraries.