Digital Libraries in Tanzania

$5,616 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 14 people in 41 months
Jessica Bass
on behalf of John Harvey Lowery Foundation, Inc.
I have found the most valuable thing in my wallet is my library card.”   - Laura Bush

More than 500 years ago, the invention of the printing press increased access to books, allowing information to be shared more quickly and easily in many communities.  However, today, large portions of the world's population remains without access to books, placing them at a social and economic disadvantage.

The Digital Library Initiative in Tanzania, East Africa, seeks to change this.

PeerCorps is a grass-roots Tanzanian non-profit organization that focuses on community health, safety and education. Our goal is to make use of used laptop computers, turning them into powerful portable file servers. Each workstation is able to contain tens of thousands of e-books, hundreds of hours of high-definition video school lectures, and leading open source programs.  

These resources present little to no maintenance cost for the community, are not dependent upon Internet access, and are operational in the case of a power outage, overcoming many of the barriers that have prevented access to information in many African communities.  Use of the computers and the content is free for everybody, so that the cost of purchasing and shipping textbooks is no longer a burden.  The digital library also offers community members an opportunity to learn to work with computers and to develop professional skills, as community members are trained to use the new resource during the installation process.

Our goal is to raise $20,000 to supply several Tanzanian communities with a high-quality digital library, following the models of our successful Nzega Digital Library project which came online in late November, 2014, and the Ilembula Digital Medical Library in July 2015.

For each community, we need six used laptops and networking equipment.  You may view our Wish List of the technology we are searching for to implement a Digital Library, but we would also appreciate in-kind contributions toward the estimated $3,500 cost of each library we install. We recognize contributing organizations on our blog PEERVoice , maintain regular updates of our work on our Facebook  page, and identify individuals or organizations who support the equivalent of one classroom with a brass plaque that hangs in the doorway for library patrons to see and remember.  All gifts are tax-deductible in the United States, and any help truly does make a difference!

Thank you so much for helping continue to share this model and the ability to access information!

This photo of a man working at a newly installed digital library workstation  was taken in November 2014, at upon completion of our first project in the community of Nzega, Tanzania.

Students at Ilembula Nursing College in Ilembula, Tanzania learning to use their newly-installed digital library.
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Thank you so much for your contributions, which have
now allowed us to expand the digital library model to a second country-- Kenya-- where we have installed
a new digital library for secondary students and teachers in Kisumu!

This library will be a direct resource for over 650 students who attend St. Ignatius Loyola school, expanding their library to include a combination of over 40,000 digital textbooks, podcasts, and educational videos. It will also help them become confident and familiar with computers and electronic resources.
We are especially proud in this installation, to be able to invite students to take materials home, checking them out on smart phones as well as on portable storage devices!

As we continue to explore ways to expand and improve the digital library through technology, textbooks, and new partnerships, we are so grateful for the support you have provided. Please continue to check our blog ( for updates, and to visit for more information on the Tanzanian Digital Library Initiative.
Exploring the new Digital Library
St Ignatius Loyola School- Kisumu, Kenya
"Checking out" digital books on phones!
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They call it the “giving season”—the time of year when hopeful laughter rings through the streets, homes are warm with sweet pastries in the oven, and families gather to catch up with those they have missed. For many families, Thanksgiving offers the chance to come together and to reflect upon the wonderful things that they share. However in the stress and rush of “Black Friday”, “Cyber Monday”, and the approach of the end of the year holidays, following through with the act of free-willed “giving” can easily be lost.
#GivingTuesday is an informal holiday, supported by individuals, businesses, and organizations of all social sectors and from around the world, that aims to serve as a platform to help small acts of kindness reach and, together, have a large impact upon those in need. For us at PeerCorps, we hope this day will serve as a chance to share with you, again, the deep-reaching impact that your contributions continue to have on students’ and community members’ lives.
Upon the installation of the digital library in his college in Ilembula, Tanzania, nursing student Joel Tweve shared his enthusiasm for the opportunity to access more current sources of knowledge, conduct deeper study, and eventually help more people while practicing health.

“I will share different ideas from the world wide”
(Below you may find a photo of a nursing student at Ilembula who, just like Joel, was fascinated to discover all that he could explore in the new library.)

Due to your contributions thus far we have successfully installed two digital libraries that offer access to more than 40,000 books each and are available to serve an estimated 45,000 members of their surrounding communities.
Within the next month we are excited to have the opportunity return to Tanzania to further expand the library to serve even more residents of Nzega!

Still, millions of people in Tanzania, Africa, and beyond, are unable to access information or develop professional skills due to their location or financial conditions. For a cost of approximately $2,500 USD per library, the Digital Library Initiative holds the potential to change this. All that stands in the way will be securing the necessary funds.

As 2015 draws to a close and families gather and everyone enjoys a little bit of vacation time, we would so grateful if you might be able to take a minute to help share our message and our cause, or to give a small gift to support TDLI and its vision of success and growth in the year to come. You can still make a tax-deductible contribution to TDLI (in the US) through the end of 2015, and in the new year you are welcome to give yourself an early end-of-the-year gift with a 2016 tax-deductible donation, too. :)

Thank you so much for your continued support. Wishing you a wonderful #GivingTuesday.

“For it is in giving that we receive” – Francis of Assisi
Students like Joel reading from TDLI
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Thank you so very much to the Adolescent and Family Counseling Services, LLC. of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, for their generous contribution of $2,000 to support the Tanzanian Digital Library Initiative!
We are so excited to be able to use this donation, alongside contributions from businesses and individuals, to complete two digital libraries in Nzega, Tanzania this December!! Each of these libraries will contain approximately 40,000 educational books, videos, recordings, and computer programs for students and the community to use, free of charge. Moreover, the systems will be specially-designed to overcome many of the barriers that have prevented accessibility to this information previously and have sustained the digital divide.

Continue to learn about the Digital Library's progress and the new library installations, visit our website:

And follow us on:
- Facebook at:
- Twitter:

Thank you so much for your continued support!!
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The PeerCorps Trust Fund is excited to announce that the IBM Corp. has made a donation in support of the Tanzanian Digital Library Initiative (TanDLI)!

IBM is a household name in many parts of the world. It is a global information technology leader in data analytics, cloud computing and cybersecurity consulting. Its expertise ranges from supercomputers to nanotechnology. For TanDLI to receive support from such a heavyweight is very exciting.

The $1,000 USD donation was part of IBM’s corporate citizenship initiative supporting employee involvement in voluntary work (@ibmvolunteers). A very special thanks goes to Teija Ruottinen for initiating such a wide reaching global effort which spans three continents, to ultimately provide educational resources for rural Tanzanians!

IBM’s donation will be used to acquire laptop computers and networking equipment for an expansion and upgrade of the Nzega Digital Library. The improved library will provide more resiliency against blackouts, which remain common problem in the town. The laptop-based server and workstations will allow the entire set-up to function without electricity for several hours at a time on a single charge. Overall the library will serve a community of approximately 30,000 people.

TanDLI was developed with the goal of increasing access to books and educational resources in a world region where they are often completely unavailable. IBM’s contribution is a very important milestone for the project. Stay tuned for future updates!
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$5,616 of $20,000 goal

Raised by 14 people in 41 months
Created June 10, 2015
Jessica Bass
on behalf of John Harvey Lowery Foundation, Inc.
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Helen Backlund Maendeleo
31 months ago

Money to cover Michaels expenses for the Kisumu digital library set-up in Kenya. The money is from Maendeleo-African Youth Empowerment via Helen Backlund.

34 months ago
Adolescent and Family Counseling Services, LLC Louisiana
36 months ago (Offline Donation)

IBM Corp.
37 months ago (Offline Donation)
David Sultan
37 months ago (Offline Donation)
Sarah Jarvis
38 months ago

A great initiative! Happy to support it.

38 months ago
kiriath masters
39 months ago

On behalf of Bryce

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