Bibliothèques Sans Frontières

Bibliothèques Sans Frontières (BSF), known as Libraries Without Borders (LWB) in English, is a charitable organisation with offices in France and the United States that provides educational resources for libraries, mostly in the developing world.

Bibliothèques Sans Frontières/Libraries Without Borders
MottoEducation and culture for all.
Founded2007 (2007)
FounderPatrick Weil
HeadquartersParis, France
  • Global
ServicesProviding access to information, education and culture
FieldsEducation, advocacy, human rights
Patrick Weil
Key people
Patrick Weil, Peter Sahlins, Jérémy Lachal, Allister Chang

It was formed in 2007. The organization distributes 50,000 books annually and developed the Ideas Box, a mobile library and multimedia center that provides informal learning opportunities to refugees and other vulnerable groups.[1] Bibliothèques Sans Frontières has programs in 20 countries, including Haiti, Cameroon and France. The organization received the Library of Congress' International Literacy Award in 2016.[2] They are involved in the first mobile library project in Latin America, which will take place in demilitarized zones in Colombia.[3]


Bibliothèques Sans Frontières was founded in Paris in January 2007 by the historian Patrick Weil. In 2008, a branch was established in the United States under the name of Libraries Without Borders. It is listed as a 501(c) non-profit organization under U.S. law.

Following the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the organization broadened its efforts to include support during humanitarian emergencies. After building libraries in relief camps throughout Haiti, Bibliothèques Sans Frontières began to explore how libraries could promote recovery in post-disaster contexts.[4]

The organization partnered with Philippe Starck to design a kit that would make it easier to set up libraries in disaster zones and areas affected by conflict. This led to the creation of the Ideas Box, a mobile, pop-up library equipped with books, e-readers, tablets, laptops, cameras, a digital library, and web-based content, including Wikipedia and Khan Academy videos. The Ideas Box breaks down into tables and chairs, and provides its own internet access and energy source. It has been used in a variety of contexts, including refugee and IDP camps, demobilization zones and Native American reservations.[5]


Bibliothèques Sans Frontières operates in over 20 countries worldwide. It has offices in France, the United States, Belgium, Switzerland, Jordan, Burundi and Colombia.

The organization is currently working with the government of Colombia, the Colombian Ministry of Culture and the National Libraries of Colombia to install 20 mobile libraries in demobilization camps where guerrilla from the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are relocating following the recent peace agreement.[6]


The organization's three main areas of intervention are:

  1. Assistance in humanitarian and post-conflict situations
  2. Access to education and tools for cultural expression
  3. Promotion of social entrepreneurship

Awards and honors

Bibliothèques Sans Frontières/Libraries Without Borders has received the following awards and honors:

  1. The Google Impact Challenge 2015[7]
  2. WISE Accelerator 2015[8]
  3. The Library of Congress Literacy Award 2016[9]
  4. Open Education Consortium's Creative Innovation Award 2017 [10]
  5. UNHCR's Humanitarian Education Accelerator 2017 [11]


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