It has been a pleasure and an honor to write about various free ebook collections for the No Shelf Required community. I believe we share a number of commonalities about reading and ways to make it more accessible apart from historical models based on a buyer-customer relationship. The nine free e-collections I profiled thusfar have various models by which they operate, but all wish to disseminate information outside of traditional methods. And, to go a step further, I would be safe to assume that those of us who read NSR, share Mirela Roncevic’s passion to bypass the corporatized process by which print or electronic books are made available worldwide. From our perspective, Mirela’s efforts to show that a country in its entirety can be an open virtual library were not merely experimental, but could well be the leading edge of a future norm. Thus it is, dear readers, that, in my tenth post, I want to present you with not another collection, but rather an idea.
Library for All was conceived in the aftermath of the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti. Here is the organization’s history, in their words:
Moved by images she saw of the suffering in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake, our co-founder Rebecca relocated with her husband from Australia to volunteer on community projects. What affected her most during her 2.5 years in Haiti was seeing classrooms with hundreds of children that had no books at all.
Rebecca loves to read and, after finishing the books she brought from home, she began to peruse digital e-readers for herself online. It was then that the idea for Library For All hit her like a lighting bolt. Rebecca researched the space and saw the potential of the widespread availability of mobile networks to provide content in order to fill this void. The idea for Library For All was born in March 2012 to provide a scalable, digital library solution to the lack of accessible books in developing countries. Months later, Rebecca and Tanyella were brought together over their first New York meal and a love for Haiti. They shared a common belief that access to knowledge is a basic human right, and since then, they have built Library For All from idea to organization. The organization was incorporated in November 2013. Library For All was granted 501c3 status in May 2014.
LFA uses a cloud-based collection for their collection that is designed for low-bandwidth environments. Children can download their books and read them offline on a variety of devices. Besides Haiti, LFA operates in Rwanda, the Congo, SE Asia, and Mongolia. You can fully explore their work by clicking on the various headings on their homepage. In closing, I wanted to leave us with a challenge: bringing schoolchildren the opportunity to read freely. Of course, I am not specifically endorsing LFA by any means. There are other non-profits, other NGOs, that are doing similar work. However, I am saying that we cannot just gorge ourselves on technology as though we were at an electronic version of an ancient Roman banquet. We need to take steps to bring others—especially children—into the benefits that we so easily take for granted.