Reverse-Gentrification of the Literary World

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News & Features » May 2014 » Library For All Brings Akashic E-Books to Schools in Haiti

Library For All Brings Akashic E-Books to Schools in Haiti

Library for All is a nonprofit organization that exists to unlock knowledge to those without access to books in developing countries. They have built a platform that delivers e-books to people living in developing countries at a much lower cost than building physical libraries, via low-cost tablets. In partnership with publishers such as Akashic, they are able to deliver some of the world’s best books to schools in the developing world.

classroom tablets

Library For All began when its founder, Rebecca McDonald, moved from her home in Australia to help rebuild Haiti following the 2010 earthquake. During her three years in Haiti, she was amazed to find schools with only a few worn books shared among hundreds of students. She also noticed that mobile phone networks had spread across the country, and that the price of tablets and feature phones was falling. She realized that by building a digital library, students could access thousands of books using only a $40 tablet.

One day Rebecca met a 9th grade student named Roberline at Respire Haiti School. Roberline was studying for a biology exam and having trouble naming the organs of the body. She asked for help, and brought over her textbook. When Rebecca saw the textbook it became instantly clear why Roberline was having so much trouble. Here’s what it looked like:

A student's smudged science textbook due to poor quality printing

Without quality learning materials, how are students like Roberline ever going to realize their dreams of becoming the doctors, architects, teachers, and entrepreneurs that their communities so desperately need? Library For All aims to fill this gap by leveraging mobile phone networks and technology to deliver a vast library of quality, relevant, and up-to-date books and educational resources to students like Roberline. After raising over $100,000 on Kickstarter last summer, they launched their pilot program at Respire School in Haiti, where students now have access to over 600 books in Haitian Creole, French, English, and Spanish. The Library now includes fifteen titles donated by Akashic Books, including Haiti Noir, Haiti Noir 2: The Classics (both edited by Edwidge Danticat), and The Roving Tree by Haitian author Elsie Augustave.

Library For All and Akashic are excited to work together to improve literacy and access to knowledge for students across Haiti. Last week, Library For All’s team traveled to Haiti to begin scaling up access across the country. They plan to reach sixty schools in Haiti by the end of this year, through partnerships with NGOs and the government of Haiti. They are also making plans to pilot their program in sub-Saharan Africa later this year. Their goal is to reach five million users in the next five years.

photo 3

To achieve this ambitious goal, Library For All recently launched an innovative campaign to reach the world’s top education advocates, such as George Lucas and Queen Rania of Jordan. The campaign is called Six Degrees of Education, and anyone can help them out by sharing the campaign on social media. To learn more about Library For All and their journey to tackle illiteracy and poverty with books and technology, visit their website at http://www.libraryforall.org.

Posted: May 7, 2014

Category: Akashic in Good Company | Tags: , , , , , , , ,