Exeter, Devon UK • May 27, 2024 • VOL XII

Exeter, Devon UK • [date-today] • VOL XII
Home Arts & Lit 70 Years of Book Aid International

70 Years of Book Aid International

Anna Spencer writes on Book Aid International in its 70th year, and the significance of the charity.
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Image: Book Aid International via Flickr

The charity Book Aid International is turning 70 this year. They envision a world where everybody has access to books, and they aim to provide information to those who currently lack access, to be able to read for pleasure, study and lifelong learning. The organisation was founded in 1954 by Hermione, the Countess of Ranfurly, who recognised the importance of books and made it her aim to solve shortages across the world. Their missions centre around the belief that texts give people power, and that this is a step towards an equal future. In the battle against inequality, literature can transform lives in a number of ways. It can support and elevate education in classrooms, create opportunities and careers, restore hope in the midst of disaster and crisis, and lastly, spark self-confidence and ambition (https://bookaid.org/the-power-of-books/). Their process of supplying books, begins with working with 185 international partners to find out what literature communities need. Then, publishers donate new books, and those are meticulously catalogued appropriately, to then be shipped abroad. These texts arrive at places such as libraries, schools, refugee camps, hospitals and prisons (https://bookaid.org/about-us/how-we-select-and-send-books/). 

This organisation has been highly successful, and the statistics certainly support their success. Last year they gave 13.1 million people in 26 countries the chance to read, and since their founding, they have sent 37 million books worldwide (https://bookaid.org/about-us/where-we-work/). Without Book Aid, most of these people would have had very little access to reading material, or none at all. Their website also provides insights into individual success stories, such as Eletina from Malawi, who stated that “Reading has made me somebody” and has supported her dreams of becoming an oncologist. (https://bookaid.org/stories/education/reading-has-made-me-somebody/

since their founding, they have sent 37 millions books worldwide

Their plan for the future is their 2025 strategy, which centres around continuing to push the power of books. Dr Alice Prochaska, Chair of the Board of Trustees explains their four goals: equity, engagement, partnership and advocacy. They reference the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals and explain how they are actively taking part in contributing to a fairer, and more equal future. Access to information is central to improvement, and with books, they can work towards SDG 4 (Quality Education), SDG 3 (Good Health and Wellbeing) and SGD 5 (Gender Equality) (https://bookaid.org/about-us/our-vision-2025/).

Non-profit organisations such as Book Aid International, are significantly helpful for global consumption of literature. They receive no government grants and rely entirely on voluntary donations, yet they have had a remarkable outreach over the past 70 years. They were selected for this year’s Charity of the Year at the London Book Fair, (https://bookaid.org/blog/news/charity-of-the-year-at-the-london-book-fair/) and are continuing to explore ways to expand and share what they do. Global consumption of literature is so crucial to bridge the inequality gap, and Book Aid International are taking strides to make even more progress and results, as they celebrate 70 years of undoubted success.

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