BiblioWorks, Bolivia and The Importance of Books


Many South American countries have developed in leaps and bounds after decades of war and poverty. One such country is Bolivia, which is beginning to generate a steady income from the country’s natural resources. In turn, this is turning its small settlements into modern metropolises with universities and libraries. Bolivia has had a 91% literacy rate since 2008, and this is a result of the country dedicating 23% of its annual budget to education in recent years, which is more than any other South American countries.

However, many rural communities in Bolivia earn only $2 a day to survive on, working the land as farmers or labourers. As a result, many women and indigenous children drop out of school to help their families to earn money. They have no money for books, or transport to access libraries in the cities. Thus, as the rural population remain illiterate or uneducated, the circle of poverty continues. Only 1% of Bolivia’s population goes on to complete university, and few know the history and diverse culture of their own country. Reforms are taking place as we speak, for example the education system is becoming bilingual to accommodate Bolivia’s 36 official languages. Yet, disagreement between teachers unions has implemented any immediate change.

This is why libraries and community learning are so important in today’s Bolivia. BiblioWorks is a charity which recognises this need and helps rural, local libraries become self-sufficient sources of development, knowledge and learning. BiblioWorks trains members of rural communities to become librarians, and helps to establish local-run library committees. The communities learn not only how to read but that reading can unlock independence and power over their futures.

BiblioWorks hosts two festivals in April to further their efforts. ‘Sucre Reads’ and the ‘Annual Festival of Reading’ encourages both rural and urban Bolivians to improve their reading skills and gain empowerment through reading. Sucre is one of the most populated cities in Bolivia, and is home to the National Library. It is the first and the most important historical, bibliographical and documentation centre of the country, providing a great wealth of knowledge for all Bolivian’s. Both festivals gift books and educational resources brought by donations. Literacy activities for both children and families are also run during these festivals, to improve the literacy levels of parents who did not get the opportunity to go to school. These festivals attract over 2,000 locals as well as people from rural communities in the surrounding areas, who especially make the journey.

Of course, BiblioWorks can only help to implement such change with the donations of generous benefactors. A £7 donation will help to buy books for two children and help them discover new adventures through their imaginations. £35 will buy learning resources for ten children to help them achieve the highest possible outcomes in school. £67 will pay for the running costs of one of the BiblioBuses to bring hundreds of children from the far reaches of Sucre to the doors of the festival.

We urge you to consider donating to this cause, as even a small amount will have a great impact and by giving, you’ll be helping Bolivia become more prosperous.