MOROCCO LIBRARY PROJECT (MLP)
inspiring literacy, building friendship
We develop English libraries at under-resourced public high schools in rural Morocco (see where). Oliveseed founder Barb Mackraz started Morocco Library Project (MLP) in January 2014 as a personal project and now manages it within Oliveseed, where it continues to thrive and has evolved to the nationwide Short Story Competition for teens. The libraries are in Amazigh communities in desert and mountain areas, where we collaborated with teachers and students to understand the local context and curate an enjoyable collection for them. Some are school libraries; most are smaller libraries tailored to the needs of an after-school English club for the most motivated learners. We have developed library resources for Peace Corps volunteers and twice received support from the U.S. Embassy.
What began as the "Purple Library" near the Algerian border blossomed into dozens. Our goal is to inspire a love of learning and culture of reading, and for young people to have the knowledge, confidence, connections, and resources to make a positive difference in this world. It's a privilege to work with teenagers in Morocco who never had books before for pleasure reading or access to knowledge richness in English — and have embraced it with all their hearts.
Same wall, same student, 5 months later
Today, Fatima is the 1st woman in her family to go to university.
The Power of One
In her 1962 book "Silent Spring," Rachel Carson wrote eloquently about the wonder of nature and how we were destroying it through indiscriminate use of pesticides. Her words led to the banning of DDT in the U.S. and catalyzed the start of the whole environmental movement. Reading about Carson inspired students in Morocco to learn more about environmental issues of today, start environmental clubs of their own, and plant trees at their schools. This is why we like to include biographies of inspiring people.
One person, and even one book, can make a huge difference in this world. Words and truth have power. This is a great lesson for young people to learn.
"I have taken part in many interesting English Language Teaching programs nationwide. Morocco Library Project, though, is exceptionally different; its impact can be felt in our students’ mindset and behavior. MLP’s impact has gone beyond improving English to boosting students’ critical thinking, creativity, self-confidence, and motivation. MLP to me is that abundant source of hope, inspiration, and love. Students from underserved areas are giving more importance to reading as the real engine of change."
~Ali Amhal, Biougra, Morocco
Oliveseed MLP team member
English teacher & founder of Access Language Center
The Impact on Girls
MLP is for all students, boys and girls alike, and we feel strongly it should be that way. But it's having an especially profound impact on girls. In some rural regions of Morocco, female participation in secondary school is as low as 26%. By contrast, these after-school English clubs with libraries are over 60% girls, who are embracing the supportive environment and the extra-curricular learning activities of the library. As teachers often tell us, "Girls love to read!" And they report that once their club has a library, more girls join in.
What's in the Libraries?
A breadth of quality fiction and nonfiction for all reading levels. After consulting with the teacher on their needs and interests, we buy books in the U.S. at an educator's discount and ship them.
Classic and modern literature, including contemporary young adult novels that touch on current themes. This includes world literature, and we are increasingly adding to the collection books from Africa, both North and Sub-Saharan.
Poetry, essays, and folktales from around the world.
Great books for learners, such as the Who Is / Who Was series. We sometimes include children's picture storybooks.
Picture-rich nonfiction about nature, science, inventions, and architecture; and biographies of inspiring people who have done positive things.
Creative writing from students, including their own short stories and tales they collect from their elders. We publish these writings in books and add them to the libraries.
Before & After: New High School, Erfoud
"Imagine a school without a single book on a poor shelf! That was my school... so keep imagining, creating a library in a school where there is no place called library. What might seem to be a little for some is really a treasure to others."
~ Abdelhaq Elkouar, English teacher, New High School
"A school without a library is like a body without a soul."
~ Meriem, age 16, Erfoud