Books for Libraries in Developing Countries | a'o i le samoa
April 22, 2005 5:37 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to a party tonight, where they're collecting books to donate to a library in Western Samoa. I have two questions: which books would you consider accesible and very helpful to readers in such a community? And second -- are there any NGOs that work on this problem, and do this sort of thing on a regular basis?

I'll say up front that I understand what books you want to recommend may well depend on your background philosophy I, for example, reflexively think of throwing in some Hernando de Soto, so that readers understand there are ways to avoid ills of some developing countries, and some Wendell Berry as well, so they understand some of the problems with American society. :) These, however, are somewhat political choices, and maybe that's not the best tack.

Not only that, but it's somewhat obvious that local concerns and cultural norms really make a difference. For example, in an international development course I took, we reviewed some basic agriculture texts, but I doubt that WS really needs this sort of thing -- they've been doing native agriculture pretty well for a long time. In fact, from what I know about Western Samoa, their society works pretty well, doesn't need inherent fixing (though many of the elders there understand that their world may not last forever and want to foster a generation that can adapt to modern society).

The more I think on the problem, the more I want to just donate things that are really neutral but generally useful (like a Math text) -- but I'd want to pick things that are pedagogically excellent. Or maybe literature that's human without an axe to grind would be good.

Thoughts? Suggestions? And who else is thinking about these kinds of things?
posted by weston to Education (2 answers total)
And second -- are there any NGOs that work on this problem, and do this sort of thing on a regular basis?

Not quite what you're asking about, but very very close:
Room To Read
posted by anastasiav at 6:46 PM on April 22, 2005

Generally useful, depending on the type of area this is: Where there is no doctor: A village health care handbook. It has a lot of advice on understanding and treating medical problems in remote areas (including notes on when you MUST see a doctor). Some of the people here at MIT who do a lot of work in rural areas of developing countries always bring and leave a copy.
posted by whatzit at 6:56 PM on April 22, 2005

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