Books for Africa

Books are needed for many libraries in Africa – academic, school, and public libraries, even in countries where economic conditions are improving generally, are still suffering the effects of a “book famine”. Access to electronic resources is growing rapidly in African nations, but libraries still need books to provide students with the materials necessary for research and learning.

There are many ways that individuals and groups can help alleviate this shortage. There are many large-scale organizations that gather books and other educational materials, and ship them where they are needed. A directory compiled by the Africana Librarians Council of the African Studies Association provides contact information.

Collecting books is usually the easy part; finding the money needed for shipping is much harder. The African Studies Association provides small grants for projects that are built on partnerships between recipient and donor. See: The Gretchen Walsh Book Donation Award page for details.

The African Studies Library has been involved in helping student and community organizations in the Boston area to develop book donation projects for African libraries. We have some modest space in Kenmore Square where we store books obtained in a number of ways (from BU libraries, from students and faculty, from elsewhere in the community). Please note however that we are not accepting large donations at this time. We can also advise on the logistics of funding and shipping. We cannot undertake making the arrangements ourselves. Contact the African Studies Library (617-353-3726).

All books should be suitable for academic libraries, reasonably current, and in good physical condition. Donations can be made with the expectation that the books will be available for any project that is developed, or can be stored as part of a specific project.

Books donated to libraries outside the United States are not eligible for tax deductions. Only books donated for the use of an American institution can be used as a charitable gift for tax purposes. Such donations must be kept by BU for three years. When ASL receives such gifts, items that are not needed by the library are stored for the requisite time period and then may be sent overseas.