Frequently Asked Questions

It is extremely important to give clear, comprehensive and transparent information about a charitable campaign such as this one. Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions; if you have any more please leave us a comment.

Which charity administers this?

The company through which we are buying these libraries is UK-based, and called GoodGifts.org. It is the brain-child of the Charities Advisory Trust, a registered charity with more than  25 years of experience. What’s great about GoodGifts is that the money is guarenteed to be used for the specific purpose advertised – it doesn’t go into a general pot of cash, it is used specifically for what the customer chooses. So, libraries will come into existence which were not in existence previously, thanks to your donation! GoodGifts charges a £4.95 handling fee on top of the cost of the gift – we will pay this fee, and the entirety of the money we raise will go directly to the charities involved.

More info on the charities that take over at that point (the Rural Literacy and Health Programme, and the Africa Educational Trust) below.

Where exactly will the money be spent?

Once we buy the libraries, they are provided by specialist charities. The library in India will come from the Rural Literacy and Health Programme (RLHP), set up in 1984. To quote the organisation’s website, the RLHP “…operates in 56 slums and 25 villages in Mysore, Mandya & Chamarajanagar districts of Karnataka State in South India covering a population of 50,000.”

The donkey drawn libraries are delivered by the African Educational Trust a UK registered charity formed more than 50 years ago, dedicated to support education in Africa. The mobile libraries are aimed at kids, and contain around 100 fiction, non-fiction and reference books – the libraries travel to schools in Somalia, Sudan and Uganda (all of which are low on supplies of books, due to being former war zones).

What happens if you raise less than £1,250?

If we raise less than the figure needed to buy a permanent library in India, we will buy multiples of mobile libraries in Africa (each costing £100) based on how much we get. If we don’t get an exact X-hundred pound figure, we’ll buy Book Grants (of £35 each) to make up the difference.

What happens if you raise more?

We buy more libraries! Ideally we’d like to raise £1,350 so we can buy a permanent library in India, AND a mobile library in Africa. If we make much more than that, we’ll buy more mobile libraries and book grants with the difference.

Who are the people behind this campaign?

Just four Information Professionals who talk to each other on Twitter. Justin Hoenke and Andromeda Yelton are public librarians from the US, Jan Holmquist is a public librarian from Denmark, and I work in an academic library in the UK.

Why are you using a basic PayPal account for this?

We spent a looong time looking into the options here – we looked at places like www.justgiving.com but they don’t support this specific charity in this specific way, and we looked at the options to upgrade our PayPal accounts to business ones but opened a whole world of problems – the net result of which were less money for the charity.

In the end we opted to use a basic PayPal account (Ned’s, because it’s natively in £), which won’t be used for anything else except this campaign. Once we reached the limits of that (one can only withdraw so much from a UK PayPal account in a year) we switched to Andromeda’s PayPal account. PayPal takes a very small cut of the money, but not a prohibitive amount – for example if you give £20, we’ll recieve £19.12.

Why spend money on libraries abroad when our own are in trouble?

This is a good question, a fair enough point, and one a few people have raised. Should librarians be spending their hard-earned library salaries on building libraries elsewhere while our own insitutions are closing around us? Here’s Ned Potter’s view:

- It only costs 100 pounds – 100 pounds! (that’s about 155 dollars) – to set up a mobile library in Africa, to reach parts of the continent that have little or no access to books. It costs 1,250 pounds to build an entire permanent library in India, kit it out with furniture and books and staff for TWO years! Neither of those amounts would make much of a dent on the UK/US library situation, but would make a huge, tangible difference in the poorer parts of India / Africa.

- People have no real mechanism to give to libraries in the UK or US in the same way. Even if you had $5 you wanted to donate to a library, how could you? We don’t think we’re taking money AWAY from any libraries in our own countries – we believe we will catalyse spending that wouldn’t otherwise happen. That said, if we can start some kind of movement towards giving to libraries at home too, that would be amazing. Libraries for all!

- Libraries are closing all over the place. Let’s open one and have some good news for a change…

Let us know if you have any more questions about the project. Thank you.

  1. #1 by Book Lovers chennai on September 24, 2012 - 5:07 am

    Great summary of reply for the question which is”why spend money on libraries abroad when our own are in trouble”.
    Thanks for sharing info.

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