As part of international cultural cooperation, donating second-hand books is today a practice that is both common and controversial. It came about because of the realization that bibliographic and documentary resources were unevenly distributed in the world, and it aims to transfer to poor countries a portion of the books that are plentiful in rich countries.
But this act of simple generosity may prove more complex than it seems. The cultural and scientific needs of each country differ and books cannot always be mechanically transferred. Some specialists even oppose the principle of donating books on the grounds that it may discourage local publishing initiatives. The issue is therefore complex and requires careful preparation in order to achieve its objective.
After half a century of experience in this field, UNESCO has amassed knowledge capable of effectively guiding those actively involved in this type of initiative, in both practical and policy terms. For the donation issue is not just operational but, above all, has to accommodate the exigencies of sustainable development in the countries and communities concerned.
The course for the Book Donations for Development is now online.