Pam Shelton: books across the water

The One-World Library Project of Bristol will host a free talk and slideshow about the Botswana Book Project on Thursday, Dec. 2, from 6:30-8:00 p.m. at the Lawrence Memorial Library in Bristol. Pam Shelton created the Botswana Book Project 12 years ago when she moved to Botswana, Africa, upon retiring as head librarian of the Shelburne Village School.

Shelton saw the pressing need for libraries and books in Ngamiland District, something she calls a "book famine", and she conceived the Botswana Book Project as a way to enable primary schools to set up libraries. Her talk and slideshow will begin with her arrival at Maun Village and will focus on the various tribal groups, local wildlife, and the safari camp she lived in for two years. She will also talk about Botswana's schools, orphan programs, and the Book Project and the many lives it touches.

Shelton, who is the founder and director of the Botswana Book Project, often says she feels "like a book farmer seeding the country with books."

To date, the Botswana Book Project has distributed approximately 330,000 school and library books throughout Botswana. Her efforts have resulted in the creation of over 300 libraries in Botswana, including sixty at primary schools in Ngamiland. Every student visits their library once or twice a week for thirty minutes with their class and in many schools the students are being encouraged to borrow books to share with their families.

The Botswana Book Project slogan is "A Book in Every Hut."

The Project distributes books and other literacy materials that are donated by organizations like Books for Africa, with a goal of helping to develop an educated and informed nation. This past September, 650+ boxes of books were unloaded into Baobab School Hall, where staff and Peace Corps volunteers unpacked over 28,000 books. These were sorted and re-boxed for the over 70 recipients including schools, libraries, hospitals, orphanages, churches and other organizations.

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