1. How do you choose a site?
We do not build library buildings but look for existing locations with usable space, places where children already congregate – schools, feeding stations, after-school programs. A site is chosen based on the number of children served, the median income of the families served and how often the library can be open. The community must show evidence that it can sustain the library by providing a librarian for us to train, a safe and secure place for the books, book shelves and a continuing dialogue about how the library is working.
2. How much does a library cost?
We budget $3,000 per library, 1/3 of this goes towards books. We send 1 or 2 people to each site. The lead person has all of their expenses covered and is responsible for hand carrying the supplies and sometimes the books if necessary. The second person pays for their own flight and food expenses. We keep our costs down by staying at hostels or guest houses whenever possible. Frequently hotels are not even available. Everyone in our organization are volunteers.
3. Where do you get books and how are they chosen?
We ask teachers or schools what books they would like for the children to have access to. We also look for award-winning and popular books. We have observed that non-fiction books are the most popular and most useful for the teachers and students. We try to fill each library with 50% non-fiction books. The students love them and they aid the teachers in educating the children. In English-speaking locations, we take as many donated books as we can. In countries where the language is not English, we usually purchase books, buying as many books as possible in the country to support the local economy.
4. How can you tell when a library is most successful?
Libraries are successful when they are regularly open and used. We observe a high success rate when children are reading, books are treated with care, and the community sustains the library and finds ways to add books. We keep in touch with the librarians to learn how each library is working and how we could have made it better. We learn something new with each library. When we are in the country, we visit previous libraries to see how the books are being used, how they are being treated, and what new books have been added to the collection.