Newsletter #17, March 2020

THE BARN HAS CLOSED FOR A COVID-19 BREAK – we will reopen ASAP! If you are in South Australia and have books to donate, please contact David on 0418 877 112


B4L is struggling, like most charities, to raise funds following other recent appeals such as for bushfire victims and now the effects of COVID-19. As you will see below, Lesotho has a great need for our library books and what you have sent are being used in many schools to effect significant changes in children. However, we need $13,604 by 30 June 2020 to meet this year’s costs. Donations to date = $8,100

To help B4L raise $5,500 in less than 2.5 months make a tax-deductable donation on this website

Thank you Lions Club of Blackwood and Rotary Club of St Peters;
both made significant donations in response to a recent appeal to local service clubs.


Founders of B4L, David and Liz Linn (we) visited Lesotho just prior to the COVID-19 shut down but catching the 14-day isolation period on return. We report that the trip was very important to the development of B4L for 3 main reasons; 2 related to our regular partners, Transformation Resource Centre (TRC) and Rotary Club of Maloti (RCoMa) while third was the Summit by African Library Project (ALP).

Meeting with the originator of the book project: We met with ‘Me Mosa Muso who, as the then librarian at TRC, conceived the idea on which B4L has built, was a lovely event. Mosa (left) lives with her husband in Welcom in South Africa.

Meeting with TRC and subsequent visit to 2 schools: History repeating; when we arrived at TRC in 2008 we found the first shipment in the TRC foyer. This time the latest shipment of 105 boxes of books was prominently standing in the foyer and awaiting distribution to schools .

In the past few months there have been staff changes at TRC (although key people have only changed positions) so the meeting provide an opportunity to bring us all up-to-date. TRC remains committed to distributing the annual shipment, but increasing budget pressure means that the schools are in more populated and accessible areas rather than the remote mountain areas. The latter can only be serviced if more funds are available. Ongoing support to schools and auditing of use of the book resources are also limited due to the lack of funds.

Together with the 3 key members of TRC staff, we visited 2 schools in metropolitan Maseru

The Maseru LECS PS library has good shelving in a dedicated room with tables and chairs. The library looks well-stocked, but the school has had only one B4L shipment. The next B4L/TRC donation will transform the library. Books are set out on shelves in the same way B4L packed them at The Barn. The timetable for use of the library is shown below right.

Mabathoane Secondary School has a huge light-filled library. It has lots of books on strong shelving and is well-furnished with large tables and many chairs. Books are catalogued using the Dewey System. With 2 staff managing the library, and programmed use of the library, students are benefitting. Many of the books showed publishing dates from yesteryear; staff stated books will be discarded as new ones arrive. Therefore they were eagerly awaiting their share of the books currently sitting in the TRC foyer.

Meeting with RCoMa: It was a pleasure to meet with Rotary members who are key contacts in the supply of books to their community service projects and nearby schools. As with all Rotarians, they are dedicated to their community. The meeting consolidated the relationship and provided an opportunity to discuss future actions, including co-operation between the various groups donating books for school libraries in Lesotho.

The images below show the working group meeting at Kick-4-Life which provides excellent accommodation with its profits supporting soccer development. The soccer pitch is right there!

Attendance at African Library Project (ALP) Summit and related visits to 4 schools in and around Maseru: The prime reason we travelled to Lesotho at this time (was it “essential travel”?) was to attend the ALP Summit held at Thaba Bosiu Cultural Village about 30 minutes drive from Maseru CBD and situated below Thaba-Bosiu (means: mountain at night) – a National Monument.

As you will see from the African Library Project website, and the Lesotho Facebook page, ALP is an amazing organisation. Here the 2 Founders of B4L met the Founder of ALP, Chris Bradshaw, and learned that ALP was founded at about the same time as B4L started. The development of ALP is amazing; over 3,000,000 books to over 3,000 school libraries (about 1,000 to 1,500 books in each) in 12 African countries.

The African Library Project motto speaks to anyone establishing libraries: Changing Lives, Book by Book.

The original programme for the Summit over 5 days was modified when COVID-19 prevented all but one delegate from participating African countries outside of Lesotho were forced to cancel, as did some people due to come from USA. The revised programme concentrated on ALP operations in Lesotho with a strong focus on future co-operation between the various entities trying to achieve the same result in Lesotho, including B4L and its partners TRC and RCoMa. The programme included more than 80 teacher-librarians joining for 2 days of seminar sessions and in-school work on how to establish a library. ALP representatives and volunteers worked very, very hard to achieve a highly successful Summit out of a sea of challenges.

Through a special appeal to B4L donors, sufficient funds were raised to allow B4L to sponsor the cost of catering for the teacher-librarians over the 2 days.

We trust we represented B4L well in this international forum, but we can confess to not doing too well when delegates were, as part of a cultural evening, invited to present something that represented their country (how does one depict meat pies, AFL, flies, vegemite, koalas, etc., and an “easy-going’ multicultural society?). We did try to sing, “We are one, but we are many…”

From the report we made to B4L Board, the standouts were:

  • The presence of the founders of 2 long-standing organisations both sending books used to establish libraries in schools in Lesotho
  • The spirit in which we were welcomed
  • One theme was, “Teamwork makes the Dream work”
  • Sharing between the many parties represented with everyone trying to make the Summit worthwhile (which in our view was achieved), learning from each other (also achieved), fostering cooperation between the parties (developed further over the days) and working to improve in-school care and use of libraries (an on- going task)
  • Visits to schools to view the different standards of libraries, the rooms (spaces) in which the libraries exist, the effort made by many teachers and schools to make the best of their library resource, the various methods schools have used to make shelving
  • Visits to schools that highlighted the inadequacy in most cases of spaces used as a library, shelving, desks and seats to allow students to read in comfort let alone heating/cooling, for teacher training and dedication to a library, and a larger inventory of books
  • Visit to school highlighted the reading ability of students selected to read to the visiting party. Some were able to read a book fluently, and with no inhibitions
  • Being joined for 2 days by some 80+ teacher-librarians from Lesotho schools
  • Sorting the un-loaded shipping container of boxes of books into the many schools assigned to receive them – joining some 40 people in a confined space to achieve this huge task in about 2 hours was amazing. We are pleased that B4L handles more manageable standard-sized boxes on pallets, and not by the container load!
  • The Thursday evening dinner and “cultural celebration”. Yes, there was an attempt at an Australian presentation (what does one do to “represent” our culture?) which was nothing compared with any African offering. I won’t comment on the US effort other than to say they had a lot of people joining in! For all that, Oz and USA have great bonds of friendship) It was an hilarious and memorable evening
  • Linking with key people for future developments, and linking them with the B4L partners.

ALP worked hard to make an impact in the community during the Summit, including media coverage. One newspaper report is reproduced at bottom of this newsletter

We found books in this amazing library (LithabanengPS) from 3 donors, including Books for Lesotho

Last school visited as part of the ALP Summit was Tikoe Primary School :

Conclusion from the ALP Summit: This was time well spent in meeting others especially people from Lesotho, learning that B4L and its partners do not work in Lesotho alone, that we share common objectives and the same problems, and that most of the books that are delivered are welcomed, highly prized and put to very good use.

Conclusion from our visit to Lesotho: This was a very timely visit in many ways; meeting the B4L partners, TRC and RCoMa, attending the ALP Summit, visiting schools with TRC and ALP, unpacking the ALP container of boxes of books, meeting (as we always seem to do) amazing local people who are doing everything they can to better themselves and the people of Lesotho and usually both of these at the same time. Providing books to establish libraries in schools, institutions and communities continues to be a way in which Australia can support them and the students who will follow with the same ideals – ideals which we hope to see become reality for each person. Thank you for your support of the wonderful project – now in its 14th year and packing the 17th shipment.

David Linn, Chairman, Books for Lesotho Inc.