| By Jessica Edwards |
Although I spend most of my time working for the Gale International Marketing team, I’m also a Publisher Ambassador for the charity Book Aid International. After touring the Cengage warehouse last year and learning about operational processes, including the scrapping of books, I was inspired to research ways of extending the lives of books marked for pulping. I consequently came across Book Aid International, a long-established charity who ship new books from UK publishers out to sub-Saharan Africa, and was immediately impressed with the value and scale of their work.
The charity not only accepts book donations, but establishes librarian training programmes and funds refurbishments at partner libraries in sub-Saharan Africa and the occupied Palestinian territories. Some of these libraries are in communities with a very limited access to books such as refugee camps, prisons, and slums, others are in hospitals or universities where resources are extremely dated. Book Aid International works with some of the largest UK publishers, and all the books shipped abroad are new. In 2016, they sent over a million books. They also work with local publishers to source books in local languages.
It can be hard to appreciate quite how desperate the need is, but a few particularly powerful stories go some way towards demonstrating. The Menelik II Referral Hospital in Ethiopia is a hospital with no internet connection, and therefore no online resources. Thus, the library is vital for medical staff to access the up-to-date information they require. Nearly all the books in the hospital library are provided by Book Aid International. Samuel’s story in the video below is also a powerful indication of how the work of Book Aid International helps individuals pull themselves out of poverty. The video also outlines the charity’s many achievements over the last year.