We are building a library the likes of which the world has never seen before. It will be the first that will actively engage users as content creators, the first that will operate on a sustainable business model, and the first designed to maximize the potential of high-speed information exchange in developing markets.
By backing this Kickstarter project YOU will be the first in the world to see these designs go into construction, be the first to receive original works created at the library via digital subscription, and have your name hand-written on the wall of the library to recognize your contribution to inventing the library of the future.
CONCEPT: Librii is a network of low-cost, digitally powered libraries deployed along the expanding fiber optic infrastructure in the developing world. Librii creates a complete enabling environment of digital and physical resources operated by a staff of professional librarians. Librii provides individuals and communities in emerging markets the tools to solve their own educational, informational, and economic challenges.
OPPORTUNITY: Today, 1 billion people live in Africa, yet only 3% of the population has access to broadband internet and the wealth of information it provides. Access to knowledge is essential in the process of social mobility. There is a large opportunity to achieve significant social impact in the African market by opening the flow of information, namely through increasing access to affordable high-speed internet. Ghana has emerged as a technology leader in Africa, and it is here that we are focusing our launch effort.
COSTS: These libraries run on a revenue-generating business model. Librii will pay the upfront costs of constructing the facilities and provide content updates. We have identified a number of revenue streams that will shift the operation costs to the users. This strategy is aimed at ensuring financial sustainability for each library by eliminating perpetual government or philanthropic support.
TEAM: Librii is an experienced team uniquely balanced to successfully execute the model. Additionally, we have a dedicated group of advisers with industry-specific knowledge and strategic partnerships to aid in implementation. Librii was incubated with seed funding from the World Bank Institute and was awarded the Best Innovation Leveraging Technology from the Dell Social Innovation Challenge.
- Current Team: David Dewane, Rachel Dewane, Jeff Frey, Katie Plocheck, Judd Swanson
- Advisers: Anthony Acquaye, Idris Bello, Paul Gabie, Jane McGonigal
- Past Team: Andres Felipe Escobar, Kevin Simmons
- Contributors: Don Hickey, Richie Gelles, Rosalie Lack, Portfolio Center
- Strategic Partnerships: Architecture for Humanity, Gensler, Son & Sons, Librarians Without Borders
- Video By: Playhou.se
IMPLEMENTATION: We will use these funds to achieve the following:
Construction Phase (first 90 days)
- Fabrication of eHub
- Building of Librii internal IT network (PORTAL)
- Finalize local partner
- Travel to Ghana for final site documentation and logistics
Opening Phase (first 6 months)
- Ship the eHub to Ghana
- Field installation of eHub
- Train local partner and staff
- Open doors to test group for soft opening
- Advertise Librii in local community
- Hard opening for general public
Operations Phase (first year)
- Librii management team to closely monitor library use
- Determine funding streams that are most viable and improve their effectiveness
- Goal to get to profitability within six months of opening
- Compile data from initial use period
- Use field data to refine business model
- Capture specific stories of how access to information resources through Librii positively impacted the lives of individual users
Is Librii a 501(c)3 non-profit?
Librii is a subsidiary of Libraries Across Africa (LAA), a company filed as a non-profit in the State of Texas. LAA filed for 501(c)3 status with the IRS in February 2012; the application is currently pending approval. LAA has formed a fiscal partnership with Architecture for Humanity, a registered 501(c)3, that will allow to continue our organizational mission until in the interim.
Is my donation tax deductible?
Yes. Architecture for Humanity is a registered as a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization by the IRS. More information from Kickstarter can be found here.
How is this different than an internet café?
There are several important differences. First, these libraries will include a variety of offerings beyond internet access, including access to physical books and educational programs. Second, while there will be some paid services to generate operating revenue, we will make every effort to maximize free offerings. Third, our libraries will be staffed by professional librarians whose job is to make sure patrons are finding the resources that are most relevant and beneficial to them.
Why is the library for-profit?
We developed this business model to ensure that the libraries can be financially independent. No one is going to get rich off Librii. Profits will be reinvested in the company to increase the content offerings and expand the network.
Can you really build and run this library for $150,000?
We believe so. Our financial breakdown can be found here.
Who is your partner in Ghana?
We are vetting candidates to operate the pilot library. We will have the ability to secure the best partner once we have demonstrated our ability to raise funds and start building.
You mention a "network" of libraries. What is your strategy for scaling up?
We want to start simply: build and operate one library in 2013. We will use the pilot to discover what resources a community will actually want (versus what we believe they want) and experiment with different combinations of revenue streams. The second step will be to expand in a "narrow and deep" fashion - that is, build several libraries across Accra that can be covered by one management team.
Have you contacted the Gates Foundation?
If we can demonstrate that we are providing valuable services on a financially sustainable basis for one library, we will approach larger philanthropic entities, including the Gates Foundation, Google, Microsoft, etc., when we enter a second round of fundraising to expand the network.
Our business team analyzed all 55 countries in Africa through a variety of factors, including per-capita GDP, literacy, IT infrastructure, political stability, and current economic growth rates. Ghana emerged as the market that offered the best chances of success for the pilot. Members of the Librii team visited Accra and, after reviewing the project with a number of leaders from the business, government, education, technology, and library community, confirmed that Ghana is indeed an ideal location for the launch effort.
What is the relationship with Gensler?
Librii is a Gensler client. The founder of Librii is a Gensler employee and the firm has made a pro-bono contribution to help Librii in its launch phase. Gensler has no stock in the company or ownership of the intellectual property.
I have more questions. Who should I ask?
Please reach out to our team at: email@example.com
Risks and challenges
Risk is a part of any new venture, and Librii is certainly no exception. The risk from a construction side is relatively low and aided mitigated, at least from the design perspective, through a strategic partnership with Gensler, one of the most prominent architecture practices in the world and a global leader in project delivery.
The most significant challenge will be identifying the right local partner to handle the pilot operations. Working in a developing market is challenging on many levels, and finding an individual of accomplishment and integrity who is also deeply connected to the local community is critical. Librii has advisers with experience in structuring these types of relationships as well as connections (such as the World Bank) that can aid in identifying the best candidates.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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