Sub-Saharan literacy: Book Aid’s contribution

Monographer writes: I’m pleased to say that guest posts are becoming a regular feature on this blog. Today’s post, by Stevie Russell (University of Roehampton) and Martina Armstrong, features Book Aid. Book Aid is a registered charity ( no. 313869). Its Royal Patron is the Duke of Edinburgh and its president is Nigel Newton (Chief Executive, Bloomsbury Publishing).

This post is intended as the first of an occasional series of posts featuring the work of not-for-profits and charities in the book industry.

Stevie Russell writes: I am a Chartered librarian who has been working in the academic sector for over 20 years. In 2010 I moved to a part-time position and looked around for some voluntary work I could do in my spare time. I had been a supporter of Book Aid for some years and, as they were near to home and library-related, they were the obvious choice.

So in January 2011 I started as a volunteer in their large Camberwell warehouse, sorting, shelving, stamping, and packing books bound for Africa and Palestine. The books are all new, donated by publishers, and carefully selected to match the requirements of Book Aid’s partners.

I love the work: now that my job is mostly desk-bound it’s good to handle books again – and to know (from the partner organisations’ feedback) that where they are going they will be well used and appreciated.

Martina Armstrong, Book Aid’s Individual Giving Manager, provides more information: Every year Book Aid International packs over 500,000 new books and sends them off to libraries in 12 countries across sub-Saharan African and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.  Almost all the books we send are donated to us by UK publishers, for which we are extremely grateful.

In 2011 we provided 516,138 books to over two thousand public and community libraries and resource centres in schools, prisons, hospitals, nongovernmental organisations (NGOs), and universities.  From the donkey library service serving schools in rural Zimbabwe to the Dadaab Refugee Camp libraries in north-eastern Kenya, we send books to some of the poorest communities in the world.

There are many ways you can support our work: you could come along to a monthly volunteering evening and help us sort and pack books; if you are, or work for, a publisher and think you could donate some new books, we’d love to hear from you; and finally, you could make a donation towards our work.  Every £2 we receive enables us to send one more book to a library in Africa. 

Please visit for more information and contact details.


2 Responses to “Sub-Saharan literacy: Book Aid’s contribution”

  1. Thank you for this opportunity to publicise the excellent work of Book Aid. I do apologise for my typo – although it is quite true to say that Book Aid and its staff are “library-elated”!

    • ‘Library-elated’ now changed to ‘library-related’, sadly. ‘Library-elated’ not lost forever – stored mentally as the kernel for a future post.

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