October 12, 2009

Books for African Universities (email from Martin Klein)

Good suggestions. I definitely concur with supporting by donating to the Zanzibar Indian Ocean Research Institute, run by Dr. Sheriff (see below)

From: Martin Klein

On the subject of books for Africa, I am responding to the list instead
of just to the author of the original query. Any university in Africa
needs books. Most have no budget for book purchases. They especially
need books that do not deal with Africa. I have for over ten years been
shipping books to Africa. The biggest problem is the cost of shipping.
Even with the resources of the internet available, it is important that
African universities and the broader intellectual communities of which
they are part have access to books. Unfortunately, in Canada, there is
no institution that will to help with shipping costs. I have simply seen
the cost of shipping as payback for the warmth and hospitality with
which I have been received in various African countries. There is in
some cases a question of the postal system. In one case, I had no
evidence that a shipment to Mali actually arrived. In another case, a
friend suggested that security at a small university library was
inadequate. Still, there are many recipients who inspire great
confidence. There are many conscientious librarians all over Africa, and
most post offices seem reliable.

My suggestion to anyone is that they check either check a library out
with a friend, former student or one-time colleague or that they write
the library. My current favorite is a research institute run by Abdul
Sheriff in Zanzibar (asheriff@zitec.org)
. (He established the The Zanzibar Indian Ocean Research Institute
(ZIORI - http://www.ziori.org/) a couple of years ago, to which he
donated his own quite substantial library, and which promises to
become a focal point for researchers in East Africa.) If the books are not
appropriate to his library, he forwards them to the University of
Zanzibar Library. I have also given books to the University of Western
Cape, the University of Zambia and the University of the Zambia, but in
some cases, the greatest need is in newer or smaller libraries.

I started giving when I retired and had to move my library home. I gave
away about 16 to 18 boxes of books. Then shortly before I arrived in
Australia, the chair of the history department died. Neither his wife,
nor the Australian National University library were interested in his
library, the majority of which consisted of general works on American
history. I wrote friends and after confirming that they taught American
history, arranged shipments to four African universities. Though I was
willing to pay, the ANU history programme generously took on the costs
of shipment.

The heart of a university humanities is books and teachers. Most African
universities have teachers. They are often hungry for books.


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