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 and now manages it within Oliveseed, where it continues to thrive. These libraries are in Amazigh communities in desert and mountain areas, where we collaborate 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 students. We have developed resources for Peace Corps volunteers and have received support from the U.S. Embassy. In 2020, MLP expanded to a nationwide short story competition for rural teens.
What began as the Purple Library near the Algerian border has blossomed into dozens, including a mobile library in the Sahara. Our mission with MLP is to inspire a love of learning and culture of reading, and to spark an exploration of the positive possibilities ahead for this generation. It's a privilege to work in this part of the world with teenagers who never previously had books for pleasure reading but are embracing this with all their hearts.
ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN 2021
1st PUBLIC ENGLISH LIBRARY IN RURAL MOROCCO ("Access Language Center, Sparkling the Candles of Readers," Ali Amhal)
2nd NATIONWIDE CREATIVE WRITING COMPETITION (more)
EARTH DAY COLLABORATION WITH STUDENTS IN THE U.S.
ANOTHER SCHOOL LIBRARY IN THE NORTH (in Sidi Slimane)
The Impact on Girls
MLP is for all students, boys and girls alike, and we feel strongly that it should be. 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.
"A school without a library is like a body without a soul."
~ Meriem, age 16
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