Support Literacy



“Peace is not something that exists on a piece of paper. True peace is created in the hearts, minds, and actions of women and men. True peace will exist when all citizens of South Sudan sincerely accept each other, respect each other, and can start honest and open dialogues with one another to resolve their differences amicably. True peace will only exist when the 10,000 children and youths who participated in this conflict are given the education they deserve and helped to re-integrate into society ...”

Forest Whitaker

“I’m really full of hope because I am giving hope”, says Valentino Okongo, Youth Peace Maker, South Sudan.

South Sudan is a country that is not often associated with hope so when a young South Sudanese man, orphaned by the war, speaks of hope, how can we NOT help?

South Sudan has a great deal of potential – just have a look at UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Forest Whitaker’s work in South Sudan … Inspiring isn’t it?  The Forest Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI) is building a network of youth peace workers across South Sudan which is stunning in its simplicity, power and inspiration. Literacy is a central part of what he and his passionate team are building. When you learn the South Sudanese literacy rates – 70 % of all adults are illiterate and 84 % of women – it doesn’t take much convincing to know that literacy is a vital part of their initiative.

“Can we write a new story for South Sudan?” asks Brian Williams WPDI Conflict Resolution Expert in  a video on WPDI’s work.  When you watch him working, when you listen to the Youth Peace Makers, when you see Forest Whitaker in the video it is difficult to think anything but YES!

So how can we, antiquarian booksellers, collectors or librarians in a world so very, very different from the one experienced by South Sudanese help?

Just a little money goes a long way in South Sudan.  ILAB booksellers raised over 10,000 Euros at the ILAB Pop Up Book Fairs on UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day in 2015. What good did this do? 500 South Sudanese young people were given a prized notebook and pen (because these items are prized there) and 1,930 books were placed in 10 centres of the Forest Whitaker Peace and Development  Initiative. That’s a lot of young people who were helped in their journey of hope.  The following chapter on “Promoting Connectivity and Education” from the official 2015 WPDI Report shows where this journey shall lead to:

“Education opens doors to new worlds of knowledge and opportunities. But in communities impacted by violence and poverty, young people often do not have access to the educational resources they need to lift themselves out of these vicious cycles. WPDI is constructing a network of Community Learning Centers (CLCs) in EES to serve as hubs for education, technology, and civic engagement where all are welcome. In 2015 - in coordination with our partners and local authorities - we opened two CLCs in Torit and Nimule, and renovated three additional sites for CLCs in Kapoeta North, South, and East, scheduled to open in January 2016. WPDI plans to renovate and open four more CLCs in 2016, so community members in every county of EES will have access to these resources.

Thanks to Ericsson and Zain, all of the CLCs are equipped with hardware and connectivity, so community members throughout EES are able to access the Internet. ICTs have transformed how humans communicate and access information. But, while 82 percent of individuals in developed countries use the Internet, in South Sudan, only 15 percent do. In fragile communities like those in EES, we believe that ICTs can be tremendous assets that empower women and men to tap into the world’s entire collection of knowledge, to connect with others in their communities and around the world, and to participate in conversations as  informed global citizens. WPDI staff offers daily computer trainings for community members to provide them with valuable job skills and allow them to explore and interact with the online world, giving these individuals access to a vast array of knowledge and educational resources.

The CLCs also house small libraries, where community members can check out books and develop their literacy skills. In South Sudan, illiteracy among both adults and youths is still widespread - 73 percent of the population over the age of 15 cannot read or write. There is also a significant literacy gap between men and women because of cultural pressures that sometimes force girls out of school at an early age. Our CLCs are committed to spreading a love of reading. Each center houses a library and, in collaboration with UNESCO, holds regular literacy classes, many of which are targeted specifically toward women.

On April 23, 2015 - World Book and Copyright Day - UNESCO and the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers (ILAB) partnered to support WPDI’s efforts to promote literacy in South Sudan. ILAB members held 30 pop-up book fairs in twelve countries to raise money for CLC libraries. These fairs - held around the world in schools, train stations, restaurants, pubs, schools, museums, and skyscrapers - raised more than 10,000 Euros. As of January 2016, ILAB and UNESCO have provided more than 1500 books and hundreds of pieces of scholarly materials to CLCs in South Sudan. These books fill the shelves of the centers’ libraries and are used during literacy classes.

The two CLCs established in Torit and Nimule are proving to be incredibly popular - each center is routinely visited by more than 200 people every month. The ToTs and other YPN members are using the centers as headquarters for their recruitment and community-building projects. In a field adjacent to our center in Nimule, a girls’ soccer team has been established and holds weekly practices. Our vision for these centers is that they not only serve as locations for literacy classes and computer access, but also as vibrant hubs of community life where individuals can gather to participate in a wide range of activities and civic discourse.”

10,000 Euros from ILAB booksellers and book collectors worldwide for 500 notebooks and pens and 1,930 books in 10 WPDI centres was a good start in 2015 – and it is far from being enough. That’s why ILAB booksellers will stand up again on UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day, 23 April 2016, to raise even more money for this entirely important project. The children in South Sudan need our help, they deserve to learn, to read and to lead a better life in the future. So, there is still a lot more to do. Let us give our vital support to the UNESCO, the  Forest Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative  and most of all to the children in South Sudan with another giant chain of books presented on ILAB Pop Up Book Fairs from Australia, to Korea, Japan, South Africa, all over Europe and to the United States.

When? On UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day, 23 April 2016.

Where? Across the world.

Join Us!

Booksellers take part in a Pop Up event – collectors and librarians visit these events.
In just a few hours or with just a little money you can give so much hope.

Look at the video. Read even more about The Forest Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative in their report just released.

And say YES!

Help us to help the children in South Sudan. Get inspired! Organize an ILAB Pop Up Book Fair wherever you are, and be a part of it.



Make a donation! What could be closer to the interests of all ILAB affiliates than literacy? What is more appropriate than to enable as many children and adults as possible throughout the world to read books? Book collectors start as book readers. If we are concerned about the future of the book and younger generations of collectors, we must start at the very beginning.

That’s why ILAB Pop Up Book Fairs on April 23, 2016, will be more than just a fair: they will be a venue for  raising money to fight illiteracy. UNESCO is the most powerful worldwide partner we could have, and the UNESCO literacy projects deserve all our support.


Help UNESCO to realize the vision of a literate world for all!

Today, 781 million adults worldwide cannot read, write or count. 2/3 of them are women. This number declines every year. Thanks to greater access to education, young adults are much more likely to be literate than their parents. However, many children of the 21st century are destined to live on social and economic margins of our world.

We can change their destiny

For over 65 years, UNESCO has worked to ensure that literacy remains a priority on national international agendas. Through its formal and non-formal literacy programs worldwide, the Organization works to realize the vision of a literate world for all.

For World Book and Copyright Day, UNESCO organizes a call for donations to create a literacy rich environment in Africa. Committed to promote education in South Sudan, Forest Whitaker, UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador and actor is actively sponsoring our mission. The money raised will directly provide brand new and carefully selected books of Bouba and Zaza collection to librairies and schools.

Bouba and Zaza collection: books to develop life and socialization skills

The Bouba and Zaza series cover topical subjects affecting the lives of African families that parents are sometimes reluctant to address. These include various topics such as war and conflict, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, the issue of water resources and environmental protection.

Support literacy - Help fill these book cases!

ILAB joins UNESCO in its activities to fight illiteracy worldwide. On UNESCO World Book and Copyright a series of ILAB Pop Up Celebrations - book fairs, appraisal days, exhibitions, lectures, conferences, book parties - will be organized across the world: from Australia to Japan and Korea, South Africa, Europe and the United States. On all these bookish events you will find amazing rare books for sale - and an opportunity to buy "symbolic books" to fill a "symbolic book case" and thereby to donate money to the UNESCO projects in South Sudan.

Make a donation!

Your contribution will improve access to books and learning for thousands children in South Sudan:

$ 3 will send one book to a child in South Sudan

$ 15 purchases 1 collection set of 12 books for a classroom

$ 100 provides 30 HIV/AIDS awareness books for children

$ 500 purchases 45 collection sets for a rural community

Be there! Support Literacy and fill the symbolic book cases worldwide on the ILAB Pop Up Fairs on April 23, 2016!

Take a look back to what was achieved in 2015 and help us to make 2016 even bigger!



It is with pleasure we report that ILAB’s participation in UNESCO’s 2015 World Book and Copyright Day was a great success. Hundreds, if not thousands of booksellers and members of the public were involved. Although it is not possible to know the exact number who took part based on careful estimates we believe it to be a minimum of several thousand people. ILAB’s celebrations received a significant amount of media interest, including for example, an article in The Guardian who created a special additional site where pictures of the ILAB Pop Up Book Fairs could be uploaded. We are proud to report ILAB booksellers across the world raised at least Euros 10,528.01 for UNESCO’s South Sudan literacy project.

It was a special celebration for a great many reasons, but without doubt a principal one, was proof that antiquarian booksellers want to work together. A large proportion of the comments we have received from booksellers who took part in the day stated that working with colleagues across the world with the united purpose of promoting the rare book trade while raising money for literacy was the attraction for them. This is a shining example that ILAB’s motto is still alive: Amor librorum nos unit.

Thirty two events in twelve countries took place on April 23: A charity auction (in Cape Town), an appraisal  day (in  Moscow) and 30  Pop  Up  Book  Fairs.  The  day  opened  in  Australia, with  a progression of events through Asia, Europe and then across the United States. The creativity shown by the ILAB affiliates who organised these Pop Up Fairs was inspiring and unexpected. If you have in mind static Pop Up Book Fairs where middle aged and older booksellers showed their wares to similarly aged book buyers think again - you definitely need to look at the blog we spent the whole, yes, the entire 24 hours putting together live!

On  April  23rd  ILAB  affiliates  held  pop  up  book  fairs  giving children, students and a very broad cross section of the general public access to rare books. These fairs popped up at the most unexpected places, to mention just a few; a barge on a canal in Amsterdam, a woolshed in the Australian bush, a library in an underprivileged section of Antwerp, an elegant historic business man’s club in Munich, a bookshop in central Tokyo, the new Museum of Literature in Vienna, a brew pub in Portland Oregon, a whole street in Groningen… -  there was even a travelling pop up fair in England with “Celeste the Rare Book Campervan” visiting primary schools on the road from Salisbury to Oxford.

Amidst such a great diversity of events there was a very significant unifying factor shared by all ILAB affiliates – a deep commitment to literacy. As mentioned above the ILAB celebrations contributed over Euros 10,500 to UNESCO’s important literacy work in South Sudan. ILAB has transferred Euros 8192.17 to the UNESCO Euro bank  account  we  were  advised  to  donate  to.  The  remaining amount was donated via the button on UNESCO’s World Book and Copyright Day site. We understand that more funds than we are aware to date have been donated - UNESCO will be giving us the figures soon.

ILAB affiliates worldwide have and will get real benefit from our activities on April 23. Firstly there has never been so much publicity - and all of it positive - about ILAB and the antiquarian book trade. Lots of people around the world added photos from the pop ups they visited to the website added to the article in The Guardian. AbeBooks supported ILAB’s worldwide campaign with a generous donation of US$2000 to the South Sudan project, blogged about the day on several websites and in several languages and sent representatives to two of the ILAB Pop Up Fairs in Tokyo and in Portland (US). Moreover AbeBooks gave its entire home page to promote ILAB's celebrations on 23 April. Numerous book blogs like The Bookhunter on Safari, Book Patrol, My Sentimental Library, The Literary Tourist, Fine Books and Collections and iBookcollector published articles, and Sheppard’s Confidential dedicated a whole series of articles to the ILAB Pop Up Book Fairs. ILAB sent out press releases to the international press and, most importantly, the organisers of the Pop Ups got into contact to the local press using and modifying the press templates provided by ILAB. In summary it was ILAB affiliates across the globe that launched a worldwide campaign. This was a worldwide campaign which was mentioned in the press from Cape Town to the Sunday Times to the local newspapers in Dunkeld, Country Victoria in Australia. And even more: ILAB and the ILAB affiliates were omnipresent in the internet on UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day. The number of visitors of the ILAB website doubled on 22 and 23 April, 2015. In addition, ILAB attracted an impressive 2500 visitors to the newly established ILAB blog on that day, and there were hundreds of posts and tweets in the social media. Such a campaign, launched worldwide in a joint effort by ILAB affiliates had never been seen before. A graphic demonstration of the power of working together.

Finally, we are pleased to report that sales were made at many of the ILAB Pop Up Book Fairs. In some cases these were serious 6 figure sales. We have heard several reports from booksellers that the events of April 23 continue to work in the favour of booksellers who took part. In fact last week a bookseller reported selling a $8500 book to a customer he met at the Pop Up Fair he exhibited in. This bookseller rang to say thanks. Without the Pop Up fair with its smaller more informal format he thought this collector would not have walked right past his books. The Pop Up Book Fair format is different  and  has  much  to  recommend  it  as  a  nimble, interesting  and  exciting  way  of  presenting  antiquarian bookselling in the 21st century.

Join us in 2016!

THE INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE OF ANTIQUARIAN BOOKSELLERS (ILAB) is the umbrella organization of the professional rare book trade uniting 22 national associations and around 2000 rare book dealers in 34 countries worldwide.


CONTACTS:  Sally Burdon -    |  Barbara van Benthem -

February 2016 – For immediate release. Pictures: ILAB, UNESCO, the Organizers, Wikipedia

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