Peace Corps Builds Libraries

The January 2006 issue of American Libraries has an article on how the Peace Corps Partnership Program is helping to build libraries in poor countries around the world.

Author Karen Fjeld provides an example how these libraries make a difference:

Charla Teale, a Peace Corps volunteer in El Salvador, helped a community establish a library and organized a reading group. After implementing the project, she found that "students are already showing an improvement in vocabulary, a significant interest in reading, and an ability to discuss reading topics and context."

Communities receiving a library must give a 25% contribution (cash, land and/or labor) towards the cost of the library, commit to a regular budget and provide metrics for success.

Donations may be made through the Peace Corps web site.

According to the Peace Corps web site, "The Peace Corps' annual budget for fiscal year 2005 is $317 million. President Bush has devoted the highest level of funding to the Peace Corps than at any time in the history of the agency."

At the current $1.2 Billion/week cost of the Iraq occupation, a year's worth of Peace Corps funding would buy us roughly 47 hours of occupation. Or a week's worth of occupation could fund the Peace Corps for 3.5 years.


I'm glad that you pointed out this article. I'll read it as soon as I remember where I put my copy of the magazine.

I've been thinking that I'd like to join the Peace Corps in a few years, but it's a very tentative plan. I'd have to teach someone else to do my job, either sell my house or get on much higher financial ground before I leave, and preferably that "right girl" I'm supposed to meet will wait until after I come back to make herself known.

I have a friend in Madagascar for her Peace Corps assignment. Though it's not her primary project, and I don't think that it's part of the program that you mentioned, she's working on cobbling together a library from donated books. My understanding is that the library that she is making is mostly English language. Good in a way, because many people there would like to learn English, and that's sort of why she's there, but I also wonder if there is a need for a library of works in French and Malagasy, the official languages.

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