Libraries Without Borders

Libraries Without Borders

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Region of impact
Europe and Africa
Total funding
$3.3+ million
Funding began in
Crisis Response


Deploying portable media kits featuring educational content for students

What they do

Libraries Without Borders thinks that free access to information should be available to people regardless of their situation. Over the past 10 years, it has sought to construct libraries, curate and create learning materials, and develop training programs that allow experts to share their skills with others—all with a special focus on poor or marginalized communities. The organization sees libraries not just as a place to store books, but as essential tools that can be utilized to combat social inequality, feed creative energies and grow opportunity.

In 2010, a massive earthquake in Haiti set in motion a new focus for Libraries Without Borders: humanitarian emergency programs. Most relief efforts typically focus on providing individuals with basic needs like food, water, and shelter. While these are important, Libraries Without Borders realized that educational tools were also needed in order to combat ignorance, connect isolated groups with the outside world, and build up future resilience. Moreover, Libraries Without Borders began exploring how to leverage digital capabilities to expand its reach, which led to partnerships with Khan Academy, and the creation of new tools such as Code Travelers and KoomBook.

How we're helping

As a part of Libraries Without Borders’ humanitarian emergency programs, it developed the Ideas Box, a portable media toolkit that contains books, games, entertainment devices, and tablets designed to spark learning and imagination. The Ideas Box runs on a low-energy generator and can be assembled in 20 minutes. Prior to shipping an Ideas Box, Libraries Without Borders works with in-country representatives to identify what equipment would best suit recipients in terms of language, geography, and culture.

Through initial grant funding, Libraries Without Borders was able to deploy five Ideas Boxes for refugees in Greece (Lesvos, Athens, Malkasa), France (Grande-Synthe) and Germany (Düsseldorf). In 2017, provided additional grant funding to support Libraries Without Borders with the installation of 6 Ideas Boxes in Europe and 8 Ideas Boxes in the African Great Lakes’ region.

Project gallery

Five refugee children huddle around an Ideas Box, using its surface to play board games.
A large group of refugee children watches a television that is placed on top of an Ideas Box.
An Ideas Box containing toys, games, and educational materials sits open inside a classroom.
Five refugee children huddle around an Ideas Box reading picture books.


Meet the Ideas Box: A Library/Media Center ready in 20 minutes!


Philippe Starck - The Ideas Box



Google Impact Challenge: Mentorship and €50,000 more for 2015 winners

December 22, 2016


Pop-Up Library Brings Information and Entertainment to Emergency Zones

December 8, 2014


They want to change society, Google offers them 500,000 euros

October 14, 2016


These refugees made a zombie movie to confront their trauma

September 15, 2015


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