Book Donation Guidelines

Books that are sent to The Gambia will be used for many years and often serve as “goodwill ambassadors” for the United States. For that reason, only books of the highest caliber should be sent. The costs for transportation are high so it is better to discard questionable material or contact GambiaHELP for advice for more information. Most importantly, one must consider the physical condition, age and content of the book when making the decision whether to send the book or not to The Gambia.

We currently have a dire need for English language dictionaries.

As a guideline, please note the following:

Physical Condition

Books should be new or barely used, complete, clean and durable. In other words, do NOT donate a book if it is:

      • shabby
      • soiled or torn in any way
      • defaced by writing
      • poorly bound
      • Marred by missing pages or serious misprints


Depending on the type of book, age can be an important factor in the evaluation process:

      • Atlases should not be more than five years old since earlier editions may not reflect the recent name changes of some countries.
      • Encyclopedias should be the most current edition. They are usually only reprinted every eight years. Older editions can be seriously out of date.
      • Educational textbooks, especially in the fields of medicine, science, social science and the humanities should be current or no older than ten years.


If a book has passed the previous two criteria, the content is examined. This is the most difficult area to evaluate since it requires sensitivity to the values of potential recipients. In evaluating the content, one should pay attention to the following:

      • Ethnocentrism: Many early history and geography textbooks, as well as books in the social sciences and anthropology reflect a European point of view that could easily perpetuate stereotypes about the “third world.”
      • Religion: Books that propagate the views of a particular religion and would be used for evangelizing are not acceptable. However, books on comparative religion or on the history and philosophy of different religions are appropriate.
      • Culture: Consider whether the subject of the book you are sending is relevant only to an American or European audience, and therefore not appropriate for an African reader. Some examples are: cookbooks, books on ice-hockey or home decorating books.
      • Metrics: Mathematics and science books must contain information and explanations using the metric system.

Additional book category guidelines


      • National Geographic and other magazines on wildlife, animal life and similar educational subjects are appropriate.

Especially Needed

      • Children’s or young adult’s hardcover storybooks in good condition
      • College textbooks in all subjects
      • Science and Math books
      • Dictionaries

Please contact GambiaHELP for additional information on giving opportunities. 206-523-6924.

GambiaHELP is recognized by the IRS as a 501 (c)(3) charitable/educational organization, so your contributions are tax-deductible.

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