In London, Book Aid International Reports 2021 Operations in 24 Countries

In News by Porter Anderson

The UK-based Book Aid International introduced its second innovative shipping-container library in 2021, in rural Zanzibar.

In Zanzibar, the Dunga Container Library from Book Aid International is the second installation of the program’s new shipping-container libraries that in 2021 attracted a grant from the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund, a joint project of the International Publishers Association and Dubai Cares. Image: Book Aid International

By Porter Anderson, Editor-in-Chief | @Porter_Anderson

133 School Libraries Created in 2021
The United Kingdom’s Book Aid International charity reported on Wednesday (January 5) that it delivered 1,007,449 new books to beneficiaries in 24 countries.

The books were the donations of UK publishers and others in the book trade. Most ranged from picture books for young readers to law and medical references for professional use and training.

Publishing Perspectives readers will recall that in 2021, the International Publishers Association‘s (IPA) and Dubai Cares‘ Africa Publishing Innovation Fund Named Book Aid International one of its grant recipients in special recognition of its shipping-container libraries.

Alison Tweed, Book Aid International’s CEO, was in meetings of the Innovation Fund at the House of Wisdom in Sharjah on the sidelines of the Sharjah International Book Fair in early November, along with fellow winners from Rwanda, Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Ghana.

And the charity reports now that it has returned to “near pre-pandemic levels” of book provision in the past year, while training 609 librarians and teachers, “giving them the skills and confidence to support reading in their own communities.”

Book Aid also created 133 school libraries, it says, and funded the purchase of more than 28,000 locally published books—a critical point in many of the African publishing markets, especially, which are trying to gain sales traction under difficult conditions.

The Zanzibar Dunga Container Library is the program’s second such installation, the first having been announced in 2020, a facility placed in Kigali.

Tweed: ‘To Support Readers Together’

Book Aid this week is taking special care to thank partners such as the Innovation Fund for making such projects possible. The Dunga facility, for example, is capable of serving 57,000 people in its rural setting.

“These partners,” the program writes, “range from grassroots groups to international NGOs [non-governmental organizations] to networks of schools and universities, but they all share a belief in the power of books. In 2021, the charity welcomed 55 new partners into its network and supported a total of 150 partners around the world.”

Tweed, in her comment for the report, says that “in spite of all the challenges we faced, we were once again able to provide more than 1 million new books to readers around the world. Those books are giving millions of people the opportunity to read, and with that opportunity comes the power to realize their ambitions.

“We could not do what we do without our many supporters – the publishers who donate books, the individuals, trusts and companies who support us financially, and the many friends who help us spread the word. We look forward to continuing to support readers together in 2022.”

The organization’s current estimate is that working across more than 20 nations, it’s possible that it’s touching as many as 24 million people each year.

A family of readers in Kenya, beneficiaries of Book Aid International’s ‘Books to Go’ program. Image: Book Aid International

More from Publishing Perspectives on Book Aid International is here, and more from us on Africa is here. More on the International Publishers Association is here, and more on the Africa Publishing Innovation Fund is here.

Publishing Perspectives is the world media partner of the International Publishers Association.

More from us on the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on international book publishing is here.

About the Author

Porter Anderson

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Porter Anderson has been named International Trade Press Journalist of the Year in London Book Fair's International Excellence Awards. He is Editor-in-Chief of Publishing Perspectives. He formerly was Associate Editor for The FutureBook at London's The Bookseller. Anderson was for more than a decade a senior producer and anchor with, CNN International, and CNN USA. As an arts critic (Fellow, National Critics Institute), he was with The Village Voice, the Dallas Times Herald, and the Tampa Tribune, now the Tampa Bay Times. He co-founded The Hot Sheet, a newsletter for authors, which now is owned and operated by Jane Friedman.