One of the legendary triumphs of philanthropy was Andrew Carnegie’s construction of more than 2,500 libraries around the world. It’s renowned as a stimulus to learning that can never be matched — except that, numerically, it has already been surpassed several times over by an American man you’ve probably never heard of.
I came here to Vietnam to see John Wood hand out his 10 millionth book at a library that his team founded in this village in the Mekong Delta — as hundreds of local children cheered and embraced the books he brought as if they were the rarest of treasures. Wood’s charity, Room to Read, has opened 12,000 of these libraries around the world, along with 1,500 schools.
Yes, you read that right. He has opened nearly five times as many libraries as Carnegie, even if his are mostly single-room affairs that look nothing like the grand Carnegie libraries. Room to Read is one of America’s fastest-growing charities and is now opening new libraries at an astonishing clip of six a day. In contrast, McDonald’s opens one new outlet every 1.08 days.
Please enjoy these library-related thoughts and links.
I love these Little Free Libraries, which I discovered thanks to M@. These birdhouse-like structures sheltering books are like the domesticated version of Book Crossing, which wants books released "into the wild". Here are some libraries changing lives on a scale Andrew Carnegie never dreamed of. Nicholas Kristof: In a fascinating post I'm still combing through, David Byrne writes about the rebirth of some barrios in Bogota, prominently including a spectacular new biblioteca. And finally, I'm all but obsessed with the Occupy Wall Street Library blog. I read every post; it makes me ache for New York and thrill for this fledgling movement. Among other things, I learned that the ALA released a statement condemning the destruction of the People's Library. And despite what you might read in the mainstream media, the library was destroyed. Imagine someone gathers up all your stuff, without your permission or consent, throws a big chunk of it into a dumpster, then hauls off the rest of it to some undisclosed location. Would you feel your stuff had been destroyed? No irony about private property here: the People's Library was - and will be - collective property, free from all to all.