Developing World Libraries

Inquiry Blog Post #4

This is a topic that has been near to my heart for sometime. I started covering the idea of weeding in my last post, and how this is something I would like to tackle this year in my library. I have talked about how difficult of a concept it is for me to grasp that most often, the books that are being weeded just end up in the trash. Is there no better way to discard of these books? Could they be read by anyone else before their life comes to an end? I had the idea of maybe offering up my discarded books to the classroom teachers at my school to have, creating a “free” table outside of my library for students to come by and grab some if they would like, or even to the public. I work on a very small, community minded island, so it is possible that they may have a need for the books which are merely taking up space in my library. What about children in developing countries, would they want to read my outdated, well-loved but worn through books? Likely not. The thing is, if I deem them unnecessary or irrelevant for my library, are these books worth reading?

Ideally, all children and adults across the globe should have equal rights and access to books, but this is unfortunately not the case. There are a number of programs out there that have the ability to take used books, and give them to children in developing countries so that they have access to these materials. If this is the case, the books need to be not wildly outdated, they must not contain violence or war content, have no rips or tears books, as well as no books that have content that may be culturally confusing.

Can a Library be a Library if it does not contain any books?

An idea that has been approached in the past, is the idea that instead of giving the libraries in developing countries books that we no longer have a use for, we could give them e-readers or other mobile devices to them give them access to new and relevant material. This idea opens up a variety of options, in which these children would have access to new releases and more well-known and trusted reference materials. Another really neat aspect of using a mobile device, rather than a book, is that it provides the opportunity to access books in more than one language, which is such a blessing! There is a company called “Worldreader”, and their main goal is to get reading material in the hands of children in developing countries, and give them the opportunity to choose books they want to read so that they keep reading! They have an app that can be accessed on most mobile devices, as well as they have a program called “BLUE box” which gives schools and libraries everything they may need to have access to digital reading. I have posted a link to video containing more information about this organization.

In my own library, I see a need to include more mobile devices and e-readers. We have access to Chromebooks at our school, but we do not have hand held devices for student use. Things look different this school year than they usually do. One day, once I am able to open up the library again, I would love to have an e-reader station that can run during my library blocks. I also imagine maybe running a book club at lunch, where we each have access to an e-reader of the book we are reading. The ideas and possibilities would be endless. In our current situation, I incorporate digital devices by letting the intermediate students to have access to Chromebooks during our library block together. In this time, there are able to have access to Destiny Discover, where they are able to search for books we have in our library, and place them on hold. I receive a notification on my end and I am able to put that specific book aside for that student. It’s far from where I dreamt we would be this year, but it is working for the time being.


The Island TL


Worldreader. (2013). Worldreader Program: Gets Books Into the Most Remote Places. Retrieved from


6 thoughts on “Developing World Libraries

  1. Luisa T.

    Hi Janelle, thank you for sharing your post. I love walking by my school library when our TL is weeding. She also puts out a table with weeded books for students/teachers to take before they are thrown away. I always take a few for my students, especially the ones that I know may not have many of their own books at their homes.

    I agree that giving mobile phones to developing countries is often more helpful than giving away weeded books because hopefully each country can find e-books that are pertinent to their culture, compared to receiving weeded books from a North American school that showcase primarily, North American culture. This UNESCO article: even discusses how giving weeded books to developing countries may have ill-effects on the publishers.

    Luisa T.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Luisa, thanks for your comment. I really appreciate your idea about putting a table of “free books” outside the library, of books that have been weeded. I included this in my reflection post, feels like a very good way to distribute books to students and teachers.


  2. Hi Janelle.

    It is wonderful that you have the compassion about turning weeded books into the needs of others. Great thoughts about the accessibility of materials for children in developing countries.

    Thank you for sharing the Worldreader Program. It is fantastic that people are finding ways to help make literature accessible through creative and innovative means.

    Excellent ideas about looking to run a book club and the introduction to e-readers. Keep up the fine work Janelle and your growth mindset is admirable. Sending out positive energy to the Island TL.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is a thoughtful post. I appreciate your ideas about weeded books and the considerations we need to make before sending them to developing countries. I also appreciate the way that you have taken your learning about WorldReader and considered how you could incorporate e-readers into your own library. A little more in-depth research and analysis may have provided your reader with additional takeaways.


  4. I struggled with discarded books as well. I’m not in a Teacher-Librarian position this year, but this year and last, I helped clean out classes with a bunch of resources left in them. Some of those books I put out for others to look through. Lots got taken by other teachers but many were disposed of. They were just too outdated or run down. In our library our teacher-librarian puts out a box of discards for teachers and students to look through and take. Anything that is not appropriate, or too run down to save, is disposed of.
    The World Reader organization looks like a great organization! Sending e-readers to schools is such a great way to promote literacy. They can read books in their language and pick ones that are relevant to them. Thanks for sharing!


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