Books donated for African libraries

This blog post is a part of our #GoodNewsTues initiative, highlighting good works by Landon students, families, alumni, and staff throughout the community and the world. In this post, Kris Bynum P ’22, ’26 speaks about the partnership with the African Library Project (ALP), a nonprofit organization working to build libraries in rural, English-speaking African communities. 

How did the project start? 

This past summer, my oldest son, Jack ’22, started a small business selling used books on Amazon.  To collect books to sell, he looked on neighborhood listservs, visited estate sales and browsed online auctions.  However, not all books he collected were considered profitable but were still in good condition.  Jack figured that even though these books weren’t of monetary value to him, they were still great books that would have value to those less fortunate. He realized that there are a lot of books out there that are being wasted. After doing some research, we decided as a family to partner with the African Library Project to help build libraries in rural African communities. 

What is the African Library Project? 

The ALP is a nonprofit organization that recruits volunteers to help organize book drives to build small libraries in rural, English-speaking African communities.  To ensure these libraries stay operable, the ALP also assists these communities in setting up and providing training on how to run each library. Currently, the ALP has built more than 3,000 libraries in 13 African countries. 

What does the book drive entail? 

Once my kids, Jack, Carly, and Sam ’26, committed to doing a book drive with the African Library Project, they were assigned an African school which determined what kind of books needed to be collected. Our first book drive required book donations for reading levels first thru eighth grade, while our second book drive required reading levels fourth through eighth grade.  

Once the gently used books were collected, the kids sorted them according to grade level and book requirements. They mostly wanted a variety of children’s fiction and non-fiction themed books, books that taught life skills and books about Africa or African Americans. After sorting, the books were packaged and mailed. 

In addition, they needed to raise approximately $325 to cover the costs of getting the books to the African destination. Because of COVID restrictions, fundraising was a challenge. My daughter, Carly, made earrings and sold them to her friends to pay for part of the shipping costs. Fortunately, other donations came from relatives and friends. 

Is the project ongoing? 

To date, we have sent more than 1,100 books to build libraries in schools in Uganda and Kenya. In December, we shipped our first half library of more than 500 books to The Cornerstone Leadership Academy for Boys in Uganda.  And in February, we did our second book drive to provide a half library of more than 600 books for the Friends Secondary School Misanga in Kenya.   

A big thank you to all the Landon families and faculty who provided more than 150 books to help us reach our goal for our second book drive! We plan to do another drive possibly this summer or early fall. Stay tuned, the Bynums will be reaching out for more book donations!