The Botswana Book Project

Pam SheltonThe One-World Library Project will host a free talk and slideshow about theBotswana Book Project on Thursday, December 2, from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. at the Lawrence Memorial Library in Bristol. Pam Shelton created the Botswana Book Project twelve 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 Botswana kids with booksschools 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 likeBooks 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. Two new projects evolved from this latest book shipment:  A Regional Health and Wellness Resource Library in Ngamiland District (Northwest Botswana), and “Give Each Child a Book, Too”, in which books are given to HIV+ children in Gaborone when they come to a clinic to receive antiviral medications.

Shelton holds a BA and Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Vermont.  She was head librarian for 22 years at Shelburne Village School from 1974 to 1997, when she retired and moved to Botswana. She established residency in a small northern village called Maun and founded the Botswana Book Project one year later. In March 2007, she was awarded the James Patterson PageTurner Par Excellence Award for her efforts in building libraries in Botswana. In March 2010, MORE magazine published an article titled "Book Farmer of Botswana" about Pam's efforts.

botswana boyShelton works with Books for Africa, a non-profit NGO located in Minnesota. They are currently trying to raise the $13,000 needed for the next shipment of 25,000 books. While the One-World Library program is free, in honor of the “Giving Season” all donations given the evening of the program will go to support Shelton’s efforts for the Botswana Book project.

Shelton has recommended several new items that have been added to the One-World Library collection:  The DVD complete first season of “The No.1 Ladies’ Detective Agency”, a popular TV series based on the best-selling books which celebrate Botswana; “20 Chickens for a Saddle: The Story of an African Childhood”, a memoir by Robyn Scoot of her childhood in Botswana with eccentric ex-pat parents; “Far and Beyond” and “Juggling Truths,” both by Unity Dow, the first woman in Botswana to become a high court judge.  “Juggling Truths” has been compared to “To Kill a Mocking Bird.”

The One-World Library Project is a “world library within a library” with a collection of books, films, and other media about world cultures.  OWLP items are available for community members to check out at the Lawrence Memorial Library in Bristol.  The One-World Library Project also hosts regular programs at the library on the various fascinating cultures that fill our planet. For more information about the One-World Library Project go to, check out our Facebook page at OneWorld, or call 453-4147.
The Lawrence Memorial Library, which hosts the One-World Library Project, is located at 
40 North Street in Bristol and has a full listing of items in the One-World Library in their online catalog,