NEWS RELEASE: Cambridge Assessment staff survey helps send books to Africa

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Cambridge Assessment’s Group HR Director Liz Allan presents cheque to Book Aid International Director Alison Hubert

A Cambridge-based organisation, Cambridge Assessment, has donated £2,000 to Book Aid International this week. The money, which was raised through a donation scheme attached to a staff survey, will be used to by the charity to send books to libraries in sub-Saharan Africa to help support learning and literacy.

The £2,000 cheque was presented to Book Aid International’s Director on Thursday this week at Cambridge Assessment’s Group Archive.

Book Aid International Director Alison Hubert said: “We are hugely appreciative of this very generous donation from Cambridge Assessment and delighted to have the support of the organisation and of their employees. At Book Aid International, we know the value that books and libraries can have, especially in areas of the world where many people have no access to books of their own.

“Through the generosity of supporters like Cambridge Assessment, we are able to send new, up to date and relevant books to libraries in Africa, as well as supporting library activities in schools, higher educational institutions, cities, rural settings, hospitals, prisons and refugee camps. Our work brings opportunities for some of the world’s poorest people to improve their reading, literacy and knowledge.”

Liz Allan, Cambridge Assessment’s Group HR Director said: “Our aim is to become a Sunday Times Top 100 Best Company to Work for and ‘Giving Something Back’ is one of the key eight factors of engagement which staff were asked about in the survey. As an organisation that promotes excellence in education around the globe, we know that literacy is an important life skill and are delighted to be supporting Book Aid in their important work.”

Book Aid International works in 11 African countries and the Occupied Palestinian Territories to distribute books and learning resources and to train librarians. The charity partners with local library services and communities to provide safe, engaging spaces to access books and reading. Visit for more information.


For further information and comment please contact Jessica Faulkner, Head of Communications at Book Aid International.

t: 020 7326 5800

Book Aid International
Book Aid International works in partnership with libraries in Africa, providing new books, resources and training to support an environment in which reading for pleasure, study and lifelong learning can flourish. The charity’s vision is of vibrant libraries that inspire readers and empower communities.

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A library at the heart of the community

Back in May, our Head of Communications Jessica travelled to Uganda to visit Nakaseke Library. She went to find out how a library can really be the heart of a community – providing information and enjoyment to people of all ages. Here’s a quick overview of a few of the people she met, and what the library does for them. If you’d like to find out more about how you can help us to support more libraries like Nakaseke, you can watch our short film: Over to Jessica…

Nakaseke Library

Nakaseke Community Library

Peter – Head Librarian

Meeting Peter was an absolute inspiration. He’s the Head Librarian at Nakaseke, but he’s just about everything else too – he heads up the radio station, he runs reading activities for children, and he keeps local farmers up to date with important information. Local farmers need up to date information like the average market cost of their crops so they can price produce accordingly and accurate local weather forecasts. Through a central text messaging system, Peter keeps them all up to date.

The library collection here has lots of agricultural books, such as the best ways of harvesting crops, or tips on bee keeping. In order to bring the information housed in the library to as many people as possible, Peter will often take information from these books and turn this into a feature for the radio station, meaning many farmers benefit from just one book.

Reading activity

Peter runs a reading activity in the library

Livingstone, Victoria and Priscilla – dad and daughters

Livingstone is a security guard and uses the library for leisure as he’s very interested in politics. But all he really wanted to talk to me about were his daughters, Victoria and Priscilla. They are eight and four and they use the library every day – Victoria was reading in the Children’s Corner while I spoke to her dad. Livingstone told me that his girls didn’t know how to read before they started using the library, but now they love to read. Victoria was 15th in the class for reading before she started to use the library and now she is 4th and she enjoys reading to her little sister. I asked Livingstone what they want to be when they’re older and he told me that Victoria wants to be a doctor and Priscilla wants to be a policewoman. He’s incredibly proud of them and he’s confident that they can be whatever they want to be, so long as they keep on using the library and studying.

Victoria reading in the library

Victoria reading in the library

Town Mayor, Nakaseke

I was honoured to meet the Mayor while I was in Nakaseke. He was passionate about the importance of the library. He told me how important it is that their books can open up the world to their community. He grew up in Nakaseke but there was no library when he was a child and he had no access to books and he was passionate about the importance of the library for the current generation of Nakaseke’s youth.

Nakaseke Mayor

The Mayor of Nakaseke

Florence – farmer

Finding out about Florence’s project was great. I met her in the library and she told me that she had started up a bee keeping project in Nakaseke a few years ago with some other farmers. They make honey as well as using the wax for candles. The library has a wealth of information about agriculture, including specific books on keeping bees for honey. As one of the only places in the community with internet access, it’s also been very useful in finding out more information which has helped the project to progress. When they started out, they had just 10 hives, which are made locally. Now, they’re up to 75 and Florence has her sights set on 500.

Bee hives

Nakaseke Bee Keeping Project

Mr Kaneke – historian

Mr Kaneke is passionate about history and he has used the library to inform him about the history of the local area as well as Uganda as a whole. We had a wonderful conversation where he proved the depth of his knowledge by cluing me up on the history of Uganda’s relationship with Britain! Now Mr Kaneke is able to share his knowledge with the wider community, and he does this through the local radio station. He has a regular history slot where he focuses on a specific time or event, sharing his own passion and informing others. Without the books in the library, Mr Kaneke would not have been able to follow his passion.

Having spent a couple of days in Nakaseke, I was left with an impression of a library at the heart of the community. The people in the surrounding area know that the library is the hub for information and knowledge and they want to use the library to its full potential. Individuals want to improve their reading and literacy skills, children want to build their vocabulary and explore more books, community project leaders want information about farming, agriculture and marketing, parents want their children to make the most of the library. 85 per cent of the books in the library come from Book Aid International and the library has no book budget of its own. There are thousands of other community libraries across sub-Saharan Africa with no book budget who need support from us.

Can you help us to support more libraries like Nakaseke? Go to to find out more.



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New Elsevier donation helps flooded library

In January 2015, the Astra Campus of Bindura University of Science Education in Zimbabwe was hit by flash floods which destroyed millions of pounds worth of property. Science and computer laboratories, lecture halls and staff offices were flooded, as was the Campus library where thousands of books were ruined.

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Bindura University Astra Campus in the flood

Damaged books

Library books damaged in the flood

We were contacted by the British Council in Zimbabwe to see if we were able to help. Owing to the high cost of medical and science books, demand for these books is always greater than supply but thanks to a generous donation from Elsevier, the RELX Group’s health, science, technology and higher education publisher, we are able to help restock Bindura University’s Astra Campus Library. Here’s how it happened:

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In 2014, a team of ten volunteers from the RELX Group’s businesses across the world visited Cameroon to experience Book Aid International’s work and see the impact RELX Group’s support first hand. Inspired by the trip, RELX staff came together to think about other ways that they could support our work and have created an opportunity for us to receive books from the US arm of Elsevier on a long term basis, on top of the books we already receive from Elsevier’s UK arm. This exciting development has the potential to vastly increase the quantity of medical, science and technology books that we supply to our partners each year. And it made great sense for the very first beneficiaries of this new partnership to be Bindura University.

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Book Aid International’s Head of Operations at Elsevier’s Distribution Centre with volunteers getting ready to pack books for the shipment

Our Head of Operations, Simon Mercer, recently visited Elsevier’s distribution centre in Linn, Missouri to help out with arrangements for the first shipment, assisted by a team of volunteers from Elsevier’s offices in St Louis. The shipment included higher education books in science and technology as well as nursing titles which we hope will be of great use to Bindura University’s Astra Campus Library and go some way to help replenish the library.

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Volunteers hard at work

Huge thanks to the volunteers that went to Cameroon and those that packed the books with Simon. Thanks also to Abby Davies the RE Cares Champion in St Louis; Randy Vos, Logistics Director and Toni Clogson, Senior Vice President, Education Operations who were instrumental in getting this new partnership off the ground. And especial thanks to Ylann Schemm, Head of Corporate Responsibility at Elsevier without whose continued support this simply wouldn’t have happened.

We’ll bring you further news on how the library at Bindura University is getting on and the difference these donations are making soon.

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June Book of the Month

Drum roll please! Our June book of the month is Children caring for parents with HIV and AIDS: global issues and policy responses, by Ruth Evans and Saul Becker, published by Policy Press.

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Book Aid International’s programme of medical book provision aims to reach all areas of healthcare education, taking in social care and research as well as practical medical textbooks. We were thrilled when Policy Press at the University of Bristol contacted us to offer a huge donation of over 20,000 of their academic books on social policy and welfare. These books cover many aspects of international health and social care, including global child poverty, gender studies, climate change, offender rehabilitation, and social care for elderly people and those with disabilities. These are all subjects much needed by academic and medical libraries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Included in this fantastic donation from Policy Press are several hundred copies of Children caring for parents with HIV and AIDS: global issues and policy responses, by Ruth Evans and Saul Becker, which will be relevant and useful to many of the countries served by Book Aid International. Not only does it address a situation that is all too common in the countries in which we work – children taking on the role of carer for their sick parents – but it is based on in-depth research carried out in Tanzania as well as the UK. Copies have already been dispatched to Tanzania on a recent shipment, where they will be valuable additions to libraries in universities, hospitals and medical schools. Further copies will be distributed to our partners in other countries throughout the rest of this year.

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Celebrating children’s books and librarians

Book Aid International was delighted to attend the CILIP Carnegie and Kate Greenaway Medal awards ceremony, the UK’s oldest and most prestigious children’s book awards.

Carnegie logoThese annual awards are particularly close to our hearts as they are judged by professional librarians and the medals are awarded by CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals.

Buffalo Soldier

The Carnegie Medal, an award for an outstanding book of high literary quality for children and young people, was given to Buffalo Soldier by Tanya Landman.


The Kate Greenaway Medal, awarded for distinguished illustration in a book for children, was given to William Grill for his book Shackleton’s Journey.

You can find out more about these winning books and the other shortlisted titles here and here.

The awards ceremony was as much a celebration of libraries and librarians as the books that won the awards.

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Tanya Landman

Tanya Landman, the Carnegie Medal winner, talked of how reading teaches empathy as it enables the reader to experience other people’s lives. She said that books therefore have the power to “open minds and change lives.” We couldn’t agree more – this is something we continually see in our work – take Samuel’s story, for example:

In his acceptance speech for the Kate Greenaway Medal, William Grill said that it was amazing to see how storytelling could help children learn more effectively.

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William Grill accepting his Medal from Mel Giedroyc

Similarly, Nick Poole, the Chief Executive of CILIP asked the audience to take a moment to thank all the librarians and information professionals who help us to discover the brilliant books like those on the Carnegie and Greenaway shortlists. A large round of applause ensued.

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Mel Giedroyc

Guest host Mel Giedroyc spoke of how it was her local library that got her into reading as a child and it was also where she found one of the greatest loves of her life – Dr Seuss. And she’s not alone – this is a love which many readers in Africa also share:

Jan Parry, CILIP Vice President, spoke of the need for literacy for communication and highlighted the importance of librarians as information people – they know how to find information where others don’t know how to.

The Chair of the 2015 Judges, Agnes Guyon, spoke of how librarians have a deep knowledge and love of books and believe that the gift of reading is the biggest gift you can give children. This is something we firmly believe here at Book Aid International which is why we are working to create Children’s Corners in African libraries:

We couldn’t agree more with every one of these sentiments, each one echoing values which Book Aid International firmly believes and bases its work upon. Check out our new film all about the importance of libraries – we believe they’re the heart of the whole community:


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