What is Library For All?
Library For All is an Australian not for profit organisation with a mission to “make knowledge accessible to all, equally” through a digital library of books that is available free to anyone anywhere in the world. The focus is on providing high quality, engaging, age appropriate and culturally relevant books to children in developing countries and remote areas.
Who can access Library For All?
Library For All found that, even in “communities where history, poverty or remoteness are everyday barriers to accessing knowledge”, many children have access to mobile phones, e-tablets and readers. Recognising this, the digital library was created which allows children anywhere to freely access reading material through the app, available in the Google Play Store on any Android device.
Teachers can also use the app with children in their classrooms. What a great way of accessing a range of culturally diverse books from simple beginning stories to chapter books.
In addition to their availability on locally owned smart phones and tablets, through the support of development organisations around the world, the books are available to many schools and communities in developing countries and remote areas through the Spark Digital Library Kits.
The kits contain 40 digital tablets with all books in the collection pre-loaded. The secure storage case also has in-built charging and a secure local Wi-Fi network through which the library can be updated and data to support teaching can be collected.
Where are the books sourced?
All books in the Library For All collection are available exclusively through the program. Many have been written and illustrated in workshops conducted by Library For All with members of the local communities in targeted areas. This innovative practice provides children with culturally appropriate books which are often the first that children encounter in their own language and in which they can recognise themselves and their lives.
Other stories and texts are donated by writers from around the world. These books are then edited and illustrated to meet the library’s cultural criteria before being added to the library.
Being a passionate advocate for literacy and literacy education, I was both honoured and delighted to contribute two texts to the library and look forward to contributing more in the future.
A brief history
The organisation was founded by Rebecca McDonald in response to her experience as a volunteer in the aftermath of an earthquake in Haiti in 2010. When she saw that children in schools had nothing—no books, no resources, no desks—she felt compelled to do something about it.
It was some months later, when buying an e-reader, that she had the idea of creating a digital library. Using funds raised through a Kick-Starter program, Rebecca put her goals into action and launched Library for All in Haiti in 2013.
With over 700 books now in the collection and having already assisted more than 130 000 children, the organisation is well on its way to improving literacy worldwide.
Library For All physical libraries are now in schools in Haiti, Rwanda, Mongolia, Cambodia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Papua New Guinea and Laos.
Next on the schedule, Library For All will be working on books written in the Indigenous languages of children who live in remote areas of Australia. The organisation has already published ten books in the Gamilaraay language of communities in areas near the border between New South Wales and Queensland.
Recognition for the founder
Last month, Rebecca McDonald, founder of Library For All, was recognised for her work with a prestigious Women in Technology (WiT) award.
I am grateful to Dr Lara Cain Gray (Specialist Librarian) and Library For All for the information in this post.
Find out more about the wonderful work of Library For All by visiting their website.
If you would like to support their ongoing work, there are many ways in which you can do so. Find out here.
Note: If you don’t have Android devices, it is possible to access Library For All on your PC by downloading the free BlueStacks software to your PC and installing Google Play. Downloading the software may take a bit of time depending on the capability of your PC and strength of your internet connection. Information about downloading applications from Google Play can be found on wikiHow here. However, since the Library is designed for mobile use, that is where it works best.
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