January 7, 2009

225 Libraries Donated in Three Short Years

Books of all kind play a critical role in a child’s development. Unfortunately, very few books beyond basic textbooks are found in most rural elementary schools. Many of these children grow up without access to the educational tools and resources many of us take for granted. The Library Project, an American charity based in Xi’an, China, is breaking this cycle one book at a time.

As of December 2009, The Library Project has established 225 libraries in rural elementary school and orphanage throughout China. They’ve put more than 150,000 Chinese language children’s books into the hands of eager young readers. Over 50,000 children now have access to an improved educational infrastructure. Just four dedicated employees based out of Xi’an, China accomplished these amazing results. Jenny Wang, Country Director; Belinda Yu, Logistics & Purchasing Manager; Nichole He, Project Manager; Jocelyn Jia, Volunteer Coordinator.

Each school receives a wide range of high quality children’s books, from educational ones on history and science to entertaining books such as comics, fairy tales and short stories. The students also receive reference books as well as a full set of children’s encyclopedias for older students and pinyin language books for the younger children just beginning to learn to read. The Library Project also provides colorful child-safe tables and chairs, fresh paint, posters and a world globe to all libraries.

In addition to receiving new books and furniture, every elementary school takes part in The Library Project’s Librarian Training Program. Since most rural elementary schools have never had a single book in their ‘library’, each new librarian learns the logistics of library management. From day one this program gets the librarians up to speed on how to run a successful library.

“Libraries put children in the driver’s seat of their education,” says Tom Stader, founder of the Library Project. “Library books are different from textbooks. Kids may be inspired by the teachers in lessons and then explore their interests further in a library. With a library their imagination gets involved.”

225 Library Donations in Three Short Years

Due to the positive response of the local communities in China, The Library Project has experienced tremendous growth. Since 2006 they have donated 225 libraries in 19 provinces throughout China with another 125 scheduled for completion by the end of 2010.

“These remote elementary schools have fantastic administration, dedicated teachers, and a wonderful bunch of students eager to learn. Most rural elementary schools lack quality children’s books to spark their young mind’s creativity and a love of reading. We have the means to get them books, but all we need now is the funding. We need help to make this happen” says Tom Stader.

The Library Project has collected 50,000 children’s books through our National Book Collection Campaign in 55 cities throughout China. This campaign takes place at elementary schools, high schools, corporate conferences, companies and in local communities. They only accept children’s books that are of the highest quality and in a “like new” condition. This not only gets the community involved, but also raises awareness of the realities of rural elementary schools and orphanages.

Donor and Volunteer Involvement

“What began as a couple of friends in December 2006 conducting a book collection at our employer to provide libraries to two Dalian based orphanages, has turned into an amazing organization which has provided improved educational infrastructure that 51,546 children benefit from everyday. We were able to accomplish so much in such a short period of time because of the generous support of our volunteers and donors,” says Tom Stader.

The Library Project provides libraries in rural elementary schools and orphanages through the generous donations of both individuals and companies based in China. Corporate involvement has come from Cummins, Siemens, Pratt & Whitney, Prax Capital, Jaguar Land Rover, GlobalHort, PFW, Grace, Aston English, Beijing Rotary and Sanofi Aventis both financially and with employee involvement as volunteers during library donations. Whereas other larger charities require compensation for their employee’s involvement, The Library Project encourages employees to get involved at no cost.

Hundreds of volunteers are employees of Cummins Inc, a US-based manufacturer of diesel engines and related technology. Cummins is also one of The Library Project’s major donors. The company, which donated 46 libraries last year, encourages its employees across China to help The Library Project, said Julie Liu, chairwoman of Cummins’ Corporate Social Responsibility Committee. “They are very donor-oriented,” Liu said of The Library Project. “They are a small NGO, so we don’t have to handle the bureaucracy involved with some of the larger NGOs.”

“Our volunteers play an important role in introducing the students to their new library. Games are played, songs are sung, and of course books are read. It is a very positive experience for everyone involved; the school administration, teachers, students, and the volunteers,” says Jenny Wang, The Library Project’s Country Director.

Education is change, and The Library Project is creating change in the simplest way possible, by giving children the resources to learn and grow. To succeed, they need support. If you are interested in donating or finding out about other ways of becoming involved, please visit their website at www.library-project.org or contact Tom Stader at tom@library-project.org. Our website contains a wealth of information about each of the libraries we have donated in China to date as well as prospects for future libraries.

The Da Li Yuan Elementary School

The Library Project donated their 225th library to the Da Li Yuan Elementary School located in Lantian County, China. Thirty-one students attend grades 1-3 at this small elementary school. Most of the student’s parents work locally as farmers. The Library Project provided 500 age-appropriate Chinese language children’s books, flash cards, two colorful bookshelves, six tables, 30 chairs, plants, a globe, educational toys and a comprehensive Librarian Training Course.

The Library Project also provided colorful paint, brushes and rollers to be used to brighten up the school and only classroom at Da Li Yuan Elementary School. The local community and the student’s parents picked up the brushes and transformed the Lao Zhuang Elementary School into a bright and fun place for the children to learn and grow.

Sanofi Aventis financially donated this library. They brought a team of volunteers out from their Shanghai offices to help with the donation at this very special elementary school. To learn more about this library donation, please click here.