Libraries Without Borders / Bibliothèques Sans Frontières (BSF)

Based in Montreuil, France, and with operations around the world.


Project Description

Established in January 2007, Libraries Without Borders / Bibliothèques Sans Frontières (BSF) emerged from a sense of urgency to ​give each person around the world — especially the most vulnerable individuals – the tools to access information and education and fulfill their maximum potential​.

Since its creation, BSF advocates for a better acknowledgment of the intellectual dimension of human beings in humanitarian responses. Campaigning for libraries to become epicenters for the reduction of inequalities and the development of people and communities, BSF operates in over 20 countries. Our work has had a positive impact in an emergency, post-conflict and peacebuilding, education, sharing of culture, and social transformation with ​more than 2 million beneficiaries worldwide.

Forging partnerships with key international and local stakeholders, BSF intends to support access to education, information, and culture through projects based on its 3 pillar expertise:

  1. the​ selection of adapted contents​,
  2. the ​distribution of resources thanks to innovative tools, ​such as the ​Ideas Box ​(a pop-up media center that can be deployed in 20 minutes even in the most challenging situations), the ​Ideas Cube (a nano-server that creates a local wifi hotspot onto which users can connect using any device to access thousands of digital resources with no need for an Internet connection) or ​Kajou SD cards ​turning smartphones into libraries of content without internet.
  3. the ​training of partners​ to potentiate impact of the resources and tools.

Over the years BSF has built among others a set of products and services based on technological innovations in terms of hardware and software grouped under the name ​OFFLINE Internet to give access to rich media without any connection, Offline Internet technologies are very agile and make it possible to embed a wide variety of content for extremely diverse uses, ranging from the broadcasting of awareness-raising messages to populations to high-performance tools for initial or life-long training (LMS, MOOC, etc.).

In Senegal, in partnership with local organizations, our solution aims at disrupting the higher education model by ​tackling the distribution challenge of digital resources through the use of these offline internet technologies​.

Covid-19 Response

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, BSF has developed several new services.

In France, from the very first days of lockdown we have hosted ​daily live videos to provide teachers and parents with educational and creative activities​, and we have created a library of content tailored to the needs of children and youth. We have also equipped social actors with books​ enabling their beneficiaries to access cultural resources. Finally, we have established a volunteer educational tutoring program​ based on a telephone/WhatsApp interaction targeting vulnerable children – particularly migrants – whose parents are not always able to help them despite their willingness because of linguistic barriers. Every week for several months, webinars were organized and educational booklets were published to support the tutors and allow them to accompany the children as well as possible. Thanks to this program, children and youth were able to continue their education and will face the new school year with the skills and knowledge necessary not only for their academic success but also for their integration.

Internationally, several of our projects have been suspended but in some cases, we have been able to readjust our programming in response to the Covid-19 crisis. ​In Bangladesh, all the Ideas Cube servers previously used by IOM (the International Organization for Migration) for outreach educational activities in the Rohingya refugee camps have been updated with Covid-19​ resources and have been used in daily prevention and awareness workshops. BSF also designed turnkey activities so that the partner’s teams could use this content and get the messages across in the best possible way.​ In Burundi, Ideas Boxes dedicated to street children have also been the venue for community-based prevention and awareness-raising activities​.

More generally, we strongly believe in the relevance of Offline Internet solutions when such crises occur. With the Ideas Cube servers or even more so with SD cards, we leverage the power of the Offline Internet to interact with off-grid populations, providing them with reliable, regularly updated, and efficiently distributed awareness messages in case of epidemics or other disasters.

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