A Knight Library Grant Aims to Bring Digital Textbooks to Haitian School Children

Anyone who's ever purchased a textbook is well aware of the fact that they’re expensive. Even if the books are used, marked up and riddled with dog-eared pages, textbook costs can range into the hundreds of dollars. Now imagine having to purchase hundreds of textbooks for a K-12 school in an area of the world where education is in high demand, but resources are dismally low.

In the developing world, it’s estimated that somewhere around 250 million children are not learning the education basics. One contributing factor is the often prohibitive costs of not only textbooks, but books in general. One solution available to schools toward keeping these costs down is to purchase digital books rather than hardcopy versions. Library for All is doing just that for K-12 students in Haiti.

Library For All, which currently operates in 10 schools across the Haiti, is expanding its presence across the island with the help of a $265,000 grant from the Knight Foundation. The grant will allow Library For All to purchase additional education materials and digital books for K-12 students.

The grant was awarded out of the Knight Foundation’s Knight News Challenge on Libraries. Launched last year, the Knight Foundation set forth the challenge to “leverage libraries as a platform to build more knowledgeable communities.” Building up a collection of digital books in resource-poor countries like Haiti seems to fit the bill.  

Libraries may seem like a pretty old-school notion or one that is relegated to the world of academia. Many of us can’t really remember the last time we even visited a library. But Knight’s News Challenge on Libraries has a strong digital bent and is anything but old-school. For example, the Internet Archive won a $600,000 grant for its project helping people create "collections of cultural treasures" in the archive. The grant is one of the largest awarded out of the library challenge to date. Knight also awarded a $330,000 challenge grant to Culture in Transit to support the Brooklyn Public and Queens Libraries in their work of creating mobile kits that scan and digitize print materials.

The Knight Foundation has awarded $3 million to 22 recipients out of its Challenge on Libraries.