Monday, May 18, 2009

Friends of West African Village Libraries

Santa Clara University is working with the Friends of African Village Libraries, a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing access to reading material and other information in rural villages in sub-Saharan Africa. FAVL refurbishes community-donated buildings, buys books by local authors, sending donated books, and pays librarian salaries.

CSU is offering a Semester Abroad Program called "Burkina Faso: Reading West Africa Program". Program Director is Michael Kevane. Here is the Semester Abroad description: "The Santa Clara University Fall Semester Study Abroad/Immersion in Burkina Faso is a study abroad program for students with at least one year of university-level French or equivalent interested in combining academic work on the literature and development challenges of West Africa with immersion and community-based learning experiences in public libraries in small towns and villages in rural areas. Students spend the first six weeks of the program in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso, the second six weeks in a rural village in southwestern Burkina Faso, a week in Dogon country, on the Burkina-Mali border, and a final two weeks back in Ouagadougou."

A portion of the CSU student learning experience includes living in a village for six weeks and working with FAVL to create two books for village libraries. Students will learn photography in order to capture local images, publishing software, and preparing books for printing a small print run.
Footnote 1: E-Book readers such as's Kindle and the One-Laptop-Per-Child computer can provide thousands of books to each library. The Internet Archive is a powerful source of free, open content.

Footnote 2: The FAVL effort reminds me of several books: Masha Hamiltons' "The Camel Bookmobile" (Kenya) and Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin's book "Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace...One School at a Time." (Pakistan and Afganistan)

Footnote 3: See also July 18, 2007 San Jose Mercury News article on SCU and FAVL.

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