The University Record, January 29, 2001

U-M, Colgate-Palmolive provide books to schools in Africa

By Wanda Monroe, University Library, and Jerry Mastey, School of Dentistry

Pat Anderson (left), senior associate librarian, University Library, and Robert Bagramian, professor of dentistry, examine materials to be sent to African educational institutions. Bagramian and Anderson have worked to organize the ‘Books to Africa’ campaign. The first shipment of books, shown above in the School of Dentistry Library, included 364 items in 27 boxes. Photos by Bill Wood, U-M Photo Services
Newly established dental schools and educational institutions in Africa are receiving the first of several shipments of books and journals as a result of a partnership between the University and the Colgate-Palmolive Co.

The books, journals and withdrawn library materials are duplicates of the current collections of the University Library and represent topics on dentistry, public health, medicine and basic life sciences. Over the next year, more than 1,500 books and journals will be shipped to the University of Zimbabwe, where they will be distributed to other colleges and educational institutions in Africa.

“There is a desperate need for these kind of quality publications throughout Africa,” says Robert Bagramian, professor of dentistry and one of the organizers of the “Books for Africa” campaign. “Several dental schools there have fewer than 20 books in their entire collection devoted to oral health care, public health and medicine.”

Anthony Volpe, vice president of clinical dental research at Colgate-Palmolive, and Bagramian initiated the campaign with the goal of improving the quality of teaching and research materials in African universities and colleges. The University Library committed the resources, and Colgate-Palmolive contributed the cost of shipping the materials to Africa.

“Colgate-Palmolive is honored to be a partner with the University Library team with regard to this important initiative,” Volpe says. “This joint initiative will bring specialized knowledge, particularly as it relates to oral health, to both dentists and dental students across Africa and thus contribute to their overall education and their subsequent ability to administer to the dental needs of their respective communities.”

Many of the publications donated were duplicates from the Dentistry Library at the School of Dentistry. “The Dentistry Library has one of the largest collections of oral health care materials in the world,” says Pat Anderson, head librarian. “Our collections include unique and rare materials from the Middle Ages to the present. We own more than 57,000 print volumes, with other materials represented in a variety of media and multimedia.

“We frequently receive duplicate materials as gifts from our faculty and other donors,” Anderson adds. “This places us in a marvelous position to share extra copies of classic and contemporary oral health information with schools such as those in Africa, while at the same time protecting and preserving what is a world-class collection.”

The University Library frequently contributes duplicate books, journals and other publications to educational institutions in need. Since 1995, thousands of books have been donated to libraries in Bosnia, China, Hungary, Mexico, Norway, Senegal and South Africa, as well as selected areas in the United States.

“We are delighted to share the enormous intellectual wealth of these materials with those truly in need elsewhere in the world,” says William A. Gosling, director of the University Library. “While remaining committed to providing the University of Michigan community with the resources it needs, it is a great privilege to pass on the duplicate publications that can contribute to enhanced knowledge and learning at other campuses.”