American Children Organizing Bookdrive

How we create Libraries in Africa

All it takes to create a single library in Africa is 1,000 gently-used children’s books and approximately $650 toward shipping.

In North America, our volunteer book drive organizers collect, sort, and pack gently-used children’s books and raise modest funds to ship each library. Hosting a book drive is a fun and engaging way to make a positive impact with your friends, family, and co-workers!

Each book drive is matched with a specific African school or community that has applied for a library. Each school or community that applies is vetted to ensure that are able to provide the space, bookshelves and staffing for the library. They also specify the kinds of books needed for greatest impact.  Over the course of a book drive, North American book drive organizers learn about the African country and communities they are impacting.

1,000 Books + 500 Dollars = One Library

Check out our calendar below to see our upcoming mailing deadlines!

 Throughout the year we seek book drive organizers to collect 1,000 new or gently-used children’s books to start libraries in various countries in Africa. Applications come from communities, primary schools, and secondary schools. For more detail on the specific grade levels, see our book drive organizer sign-up form for more detail.

In 2023, we will be shipping approximately 30 – 60 libraries to each of the following countries in Africa: Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Lesotho, South Africa, and Uganda. Countries are added to the book drive sign-up form approximately four months from its mailing deadline. Stay tuned for announcements when sign-ups open on our social media accounts or sign-up to receive email alerts.

Winter/Spring Book Drives

February 15, 2023

Ghana

March 15, 2023

Malawi

May 1, 2023

Lesotho

Summer/Fall Book Drives

June 1, 2023

South Africa

September 1, 2023

Kenya

October 1, 2023

Botswana

November 1, 2023

Uganda

5-step overview of a successful book drive

American Man with Boxes after bookdrive

Step 1: Register and Plan the Perfect Book Drive

  • Register for a book drive by clicking Take Action
  • Identify places where you can find books
  • Spread the word about your book drive
  • Brainstorm how to fundraise about $650 for shipping
  • Learn about your school match and the African nation and community you’ll be contributing to
American Student donating books

Step 2: Collect and Sort Your books

  • Figure out the types of books you’ll need to collect
  • Create collection opportunities in convenient locations
  • Strive to collect books that are culturally diverse and representative
  • Be creative and keep people updated on your progress
  • Sort your book donations (as you go) using our Book Drive Guidelines and Do and Don’t list
American Teachers packing books in boxes

Step 3: Pack Your Books Carefully

  • Gather the recommended packing materials
  • Keep count of the number of books packed in each box
  • Pack your boxes securely and to a weight of no more than 40 pounds each
  • Affix your African Library Project mailing labels
* The mailing label and packing slip will be provided by your container manager.  
Volunteer packing boxes

Step 4: Mail, Donate, and Leave the Rest to Us

  • Mail your boxes using US Postal Service Media Mail (this can cost up to $400 depending on postal rates)*
  • Send the remaining $250 as an international shipping donation to us
  • Email your book drive summary stats
  • Celebrate! You did it. Stay tuned for updates about your books and be sure to follow us on social media.
*Note: A typical library of 1000 mostly paperback books will weigh about 400-500 pounds and can cost up to $400.  A library of more than 1,000 books or comprised of a lot of heavy, hardcover books will increase mailing costs.  
African School cheering

Step 5: Multiply your impact

  • Share your book drive story and inspire others by emailing marketing@africanlibraryproject.org or filling out this form
  • Send our team photos or a written essay of your book drive experience to share with our community
  • Spread the word by telling others about African Library Project

Additional Resources

“Being part of the African Library Project for the past six years has taught me so much: about the African countries and communities it serves, about the various ways of being a leader, and about myself and my own capabilities. The book drive process increased my confidence and my ability to speak up for my own values; it gave me the satisfaction of knowing that my team’s hard work was having such a tangible impact and brightening so many students’ futures. Furthermore, as an incredibly transparent, communicative organization, ALP gave me all the support and resources I needed to plan and carry out this rewarding process. I could not have asked for a better organization to guide me through my first experience of leading a team.”
- Divya Prakash

“As a contributor of the African Library Project, I have learned so much from public speaking, to learning how to advertise a book drive. ALP’s network of staff and volunteers are incredibly supportive and continuously dedicated to providing us the resources needed to organize book drives. I am so lucky to be a part of this mission and I would encourage anyone to take part in the ALP.” 
- Anya Patel