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July 19 2011 3 19 /07 /July /2011 15:04

The Room to Read organisation was established in 2000 to expand literacy in poorer and less developed communities and countries. It provides books and library services across the developing world. The organisation's strategy is to provide funding, initial library service, training and community development for the first few years until the project becomes sustainable. Read this article to learn more about the Room to Read organisation.

The origins of the organisation


Room to Read began as a response to the UN Decade of Literacy, a project for the first decades of this millennium. The aim was to promote increased literacy across the world, especially in areas where there was a literacy deficit. The prime recipients of the programme were to be children, who it was hoped would develop a lifelong literacy habit.


The declared aims of the organisation, accessible on its website, are as a follows:

  • To increase access to library resources by schools and community members.
  • To increase library awareness in schools and integrate library resources into the learning environment.
  • To support sustainable reading rooms by improving school administration, librarian and teacher capacity.


Founded in San Francisco, Room to Read operates in Bangladesh, Vietnam and Kampuchea, Nepal, Sri Lanka, South Africa and Zimbabwe. It offers reading rooms and other library services. It will operate within the educational policy of the country in which it works.

What is done

The aim is to provide libraries and reading rooms in schools. This might be achieved by adapting an existing room or constructing a new one, but sometimes mobile libraries are provided. The libraries are stocked and supported for three years, while local community support is developed.


This involves training teachers, librarians and administrators.The aim is to make the library sustainable after support is withdrawn. The organisation tries to improve school facilities in general. It monitors libraries, it provides and organises visits by stakeholders to maintain and improve motivation during the initial period.

Particularly important are two areas. One is local language publishing. There are many local languages across the world and as many lack a wide range of books printed in them, children are having to read in languages foreign to them. So to encourage them, reading books are translated into local languages and printed.

Educating girls

Vitally important in the organisation's strategy is girls' education. Failing to educate females, adequately or at all, results in half the human race being under-educated, and this is the half that has most contact with the rearing of children, so lack of education passes on through the generations. Enormous social benefits arise from educating girls- to society in general and the girls as well as their families.

stack of books

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