Book donations

African Library Project
“The African Library project partners with volunteers in African communities to create small libraries for African schools and villages, while offering an opportunity to Americans to learn more about Africa.”  The...Project makes it easy for U.S. children to recycle their books in order to share the gift of reading with children in Africa.”  Has detailed Book Drive Guidelines (11 p. in pdf), works with U.S. schools, Girl Scouts, YMCAs, families and other organizations. Founded by Chris Bradshaw of Portola Valley, California.

African Research and Documentation (Cambridge) - No. 127, 2015 a special issue on Book Donation Programmes in Africa
Has the Table of Contents online - Hans Zell and Raphaël Thierry Book Donation Programmes for Africa: time for a reappraisal? Two perspectives. Part I: Book Donation Programmes in English-speaking Africa by Hans Zell Part II: Le don de livre, mais à quel prix, et en échange de quoi? Un regard sur le don de livre en afrique francophone by Raphaël Thierry Abstract in English. African Research & Documentation is a journal of SCOLMA (the U.K. Libraries and Archives Group on Africa). See the World Catalog for libraries holding the journal.

African Studies Association (U.S.) and Africana Librarians Council  - Book Donation (Shipping Costs)
The African Studies Association (ASA) offers an annual grant program to assist book donation projects with shipping costs to send publications to African organizations, schools. Past awards are described. Has an Extensive directory of book donations programs maintained by Deborah Lafond.

Book Aid International (London)
" in partnership with organisations in developing countries to support their work in literacy, education, training and publishing by providing books and other reading materials." 80% of resources aid 13 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Books for Africa (Minnetonka, MN)
"Founded in 1988, Books For Africa (BFA) is a Minnesota based non-profit organization whose mission is to eliminate the book famine in Africa." "BFA does not send books to individual schools and/or libraries. Books, 25,000 per container, are sent to indigenous NGO organizations in Africa who distribute books to schools and libraries in their respective African countries. BFA serves South Africa through a partnership with the Sandy Springs Rotary Club in Atlanta, Georgia." Has copies of their Newsletters. Doners need to fill a minimum of a 20 ft. sea container of books. The port to port ocean freight costs about $1,500 and BFA only pays half. E-mail: or

CODE - Book Donations for Development
Mauro Rosi of UNESCO produced a handbook of information for donors and recipients of book donations projects. Pub. in 2004. 80 p. Full text of the book is in PDF. The handbook has a "Book Donation Charter." CODE is "a Canadian charitable organization that has been promoting education and literacy in the developing world for more than 40 years." Based in Ottawa, Canada.

Friends of African Village Libraries
"FAVL refurbishes community-donated buildings, transforming them into a space to read and study. Libraries are stocked with books by local authors and in local languages"  Provides "microbooks for village libraries, in partnership with" "sponsors librarian training and provides for librarian salaries, thereby empowering locals with skilled employment"  The Board of Directors includes Michael Kevane, Associate Professor and Chair of the Economics Department at Santa Clara University.

Friends of Malawi - Book Project
"...organized in 1999 under the auspices of Friends of Malawi. It was organized by two RPCVs [Returned Peace Corps Volunteers], who had been shipping books to Malawian schools since returning to the U.S. in 1994." Examples of libraries helped - 4 Community libraries and Health Center libraries, 6 Secondary School libraries, Remainder are Primary Schools."

Lubuto Library Project
Creates libraries to serve Africa's street kids and other vulnerable children. Gives "street children the opportunity for non-formal education, improving literacy, language skills, general knowledge and participation in society." Video (aimed at K-12 students) on street children and the impact of HIV/AIDS. Photographs. Based in Washington, D.C. Regional office in Lusaka, Zambia. [KF]

Maktabas Inc.
A 501 c3 organization. Ships books, mainly to schools in Kenya.  "we have shipped containers with books that have been distributed to literary all the 47 counties in Kenya." "Our organization collects and ships excess new and lightly used books from libraries, bookstores and individuals around in and around San Francisco California to Kenya to help improve readership." Based in San Lorenzo, California.

Sabre Foundation
Has a book donation program. "In order to provide a centralized source of information on donation agencies active in all regions of the world, Sabre has created an interactive book donation database. Alphabetical listings of organizations are available for those based in North America or other countries of the world. Entries may also be searched by keyword." Based in New York state.

University of Buffalo. Health Sciences Library
Has a good list including some groups which work with African countries, not necessarily limited to health science material. "Only active programs were included in this list, which is reviewed every 6 months to insure currency."


Before donating books consider the experience of one person:

"While a 19 ton book bonanza sounds great, from long experience in Faculty of Agriculure Libraries in the region, I have learned that if the titles to be donated are not selected by the end user, then it is vital to ask the donor for a list to choose from - my agricultural library has at times received hundreds of copies of the biography of a president's wife, .....of the Sociology of Aging, ......of the geography of a specific region of the donor country... the list could go on. A book may appear to be free - but if the information in it is not relevant or appropriate to our clients, there is a negative cost especially in precious staff time in merely hauling it from the airport, stamping it with the donor's logo and so on. May your bonanza be better!