One of CW4WAfghan’s program areas is supporting community libraries in Afghanistan (see our Program Afghanistan Reads! for further information). This section of the website is to share good practices, lessons learned, networks and resources from our involvement in the libraries and reading sector in Afghanistan.
CW4WAfghan moderates a listserv for subscribers to exchange information, coordinate, plan and have general discussions on libraries and books initiatives in Afghanistan. Members manage their own subscriptions via a Google Groups LISTSERV. Subscribers are asked to keep all posts relevant to this topic, to be succinct, and respectful in all communication.
CW4WAfghan does not have a book donation program. It is prohibitively expensive to ship items from abroad to Afghanistan. We prefer to purchase local books to equip our libraries. This in turn helps to stimulate the Afghan economy and support local publishing.
Hoopoe Books is an imprint of The Institute for the Study of Human Knowledge, whose goal is to publish books that not only entertain but help children and young adults understand themselves and their world. In Afghanistan, Hoopoe has published a series of bilingual children’s books in Dari, Pashto, English and several minority languages of Afghanistan. CW4WAfghan partners with Hoopoe in several ways. We distribute their books in schools and libraries across Afghanistan, and we funded the first print run of a Pashai edition of one of their storybooks.
The Rahila Education and Resource Center: (RERC) in Kabul envisions a society where education and the pursuit of knowledge at school and university levels is made accessible to all so everyone can fulfill their potential. RERC provides books and a space for students to promote reading, learning and research; computers, internet, and digital resources for students; sponsorship for needy school students in their pursuit of entering university; educational consultancy for school and university students to help them pursue education in prestigious schools and universities abroad; and advocacy for youth access to education at school level.
- Pen Path Civil Society (PPCS) was founded by Mateullah Wesa of Kandahar in 2009, and has so far assisted 1 million poor children to be able to access books and stationery, and has helped 3,000 orphaned children enroll in school. PPCS works to raise citizens’ awareness of their right to education, advocate for schools to be reopened, for girs’ equal access to education, and for every village to have a school. PPCS works to collect and distribute books to primary schools in rural areas and to establish new libraries.
- Read to Lead Afghanistan: (R2L), a grassroots organization based in Kabul, works one-on-one with child workers to ensure school enrollment through sports, literacy, art and mentorship programs. R2L provides children with sports uniforms, coaches, mentors, books, school supplies, winter clothes and other necessities. “Our children are often the main breadwinners of their family, making approximately 100-200 AFG a day (1.50 to 2.50 dollars). Most are exposed to drug and substance abuse through their parents which create a vulnerable and unstable environment and force them to work. Read to Lead Afghanistan is committed to supporting children who are exploited as child workers in Kabul. We work with children and their families, ensuring access to healthcare, financial opportunities and sustainability.”
In 2013, Book Cottage was established as a community library in Kabul. The initial funding came from Vital Voices. Today, Book Cottage has grown to include volunteers that span international borders. Book Cottage is a grassroots movement of motivated volunteers that seeks to pave the way for social and behavioral change through reading.
The Afghanistan Centre at Kabul University (ACKU): this initiative of the Dupree Foundation produces the Able Box Libraries, small collections of high quality local language books produced for Afghan readers.
Dehkada Library: a 7000 book library in Ghor province founded in 2018.
Article (in Dari/Farsi) about a group of 15 young women in Kandahar who established a community library.
The Association for Library Collections & Technical Services (ALCTS), a division of the American Library Association, accepts grant applications for the ALCTS online Fundamentals courses. One free seat per section is available to librarians and information professionals from developing countries. Learn more and access the application form.
Afghan Research and Evaluation Unit: The AREU is an independent research organization in Kabul with a library of Afghanistan-specific materials, a collection of over 16,000 titles that is fully searchable online. The library is located in the AREU office (Hs. 144, first gate on the right, 3rd street on the left from Charahi Haji Yacoub toward Charahi Shaheed, Shahr-i-Naw, Kabul). It is open for researchers from 9am-12.30pm and 1-4pm, Sunday to Thursday (during Ramadan 8am-2pm). Closed on public holidays. All materials are available for use within the library, and photocopying is available. No materials can be borrowed. To contact the library staff, email firstname.lastname@example.org
American University of Afghanistan Library: The AUA has their library catalog online, as well as links to open access books and journals, though most resources are for AUA students.
Baale Parwaz Library & Resource Center for Afghan Girls and Women functions to expand the reading culture among children and youth of Afghanistan.
DID YOU KNOW?
Book Club Afghanistan is the biggest organized community of readers in Afghanistan. Its aim is to promote book reading in Afghanistan, especially among youth and students. Two Afghan youth, Jamshid and Atifa, came up with the idea,
and were soon joined by an enthusiastic team of dedicated and passionate Afghan readers. They wanted others to discover a love of reading as they had, and use books to help people find their true potential. The Club sees “book reading as a tool of self-help through which people can make their own and other people’s lives better and change society’s view for the better”. Here is some coverage (in Dari) on VOA News about the Club. The club meets every two weeks and undertakes the following activities:
– Book Discussions
– Published writers are invited to speak as special guests about their work.