READ Global has set out to change the world—one country, one village, one individual at a time. Since 1991, when READ was launched in a remote Himalayan village by Dr. Antonia Neubauer, the organization has dedicated itself to developing and implementing a replicable model for sustainable rural development. Instead of a hand out, READ provides a hand up, partnering with villagers to build self-supporting library community centers that become the nexus of regional activity.
To empower communities by increasing literacy and access to education through the creation, advancement and leveraging of a replicable library-based model for sustainable economic development.
The success of the READ sustainable rural development approach is its ability to empower people, enabling them to comprehend their social, political and economic position, confront their situation and pursue change collectively. The READ model features three components: Educational Development through the construction of self-sustaining rural library community centers; Economic Development through sustaining projects that provide infrastructure and jobs in villages; Community Development through improved communication channels, linkages with other NGOs, delivery of needed services and greater opportunities for individual and group empowerment. The performance of every partner in the READ project continuum—from the local communities, in-country staff and board, to the READ Global administrative staff and Board of Directors—are guided by standards and best practices, which encompass project ownership, accountability, sustainability and collaboration. The effects are far-reaching, as communities begin to increase their understanding of information and education, causes of their own poverty and marginalization, and the linkages between power and resources.
READ Global has demonstrated that sustainable rural development model, properly executed, can give hope to many for a different future, change a country and has the potential to change the world. READ Nepal, beta site for the READ model, features a well-functioning network of 45 libraries. The program was honored with the 2006 Access to Learning Award from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The award’s million-dollar prize supported further expansion of the successful model throughout the Himalayan country.
READ Global was also won a four year replication grant to expand its programs to other parts of the world. READ now has programs running in India and Bhutan to empower rural villagers there with its unique model.
Carol A. Erickson has dedicated her professional career to improving access to information for researchers, students, and the general public. She spent over 15 years working in and traveling throughout the former Soviet Union, administering Fulbright programs and assisting PhD candidates and post-doctoral researchers to get access to library and archival material throughout that region. As a Senior Program Officer with the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX), Ms. Erickson helped to establish one of the first American non-profit offices based in Moscow. Ms. Erickson was the Director of International Relations of the American Library Association, where she worked to establish a number of programs to improve information access to immigrant communities in the United States, including formal partnerships with the Guadalajara International Book Fair and Zimbabwe International Book Fair. As a Senior Program Officer at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation she directed efforts to provide public access computers and Internet access in public libraries serving low-income communities throughout Canada, Chile and Mexico.
Dr. Dina Bangdel Mr. Raphael Bemporad Ms. Loretta Faye Cooper Mr. Adnan A. Durrani Ms. Rachel Golden Mr. James J. Hodel Mr. Lawrence Neubauer Sen. Omer L. Rains Mr. Mal Warwick