Alumnae spearheading campaign for digital girls’ library collection in Haiti

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These pages are from the book "Elsie" by Haitian author Cybille St. Aude.

Studies have shown that males are represented nearly twice as often as females in books for children. Now Yale alumnae aim to empower girls around the globe through the creation of the Library For All Girls’ Collection.

Gwen Tilghman and Lauren Hoffman, both Yale College Class of 2014, are working with the non-profit Library For All on the first-of-its-kind digital girls’ library collection. Library For All seeks to close the gap in quality education through cloud-based digital libraries filled with locally relevant e-books.

Under the direction of Library For All’s local advisory boards, composed of educational professionals and community leaders, the Girls’ Collection will include select titles where girls are at the center of the story. The goal is to ensure that girls have role models from their own culture whom they can look up to and want to emulate.

Girls in Haiti will be able to use Library For All’s technology to access the digital girls’ library collection.

“An educated girl is more likely to work and earn more income; marry at a later age and have fewer children; and provide better healthcare and education to her children,” said Hoffman. “On a global level, significant progress has been made in closing the gender gap in primary school education under the Millennial Development Goal Framework. However, there is much work that remains in terms of quality education. The new 2030 Agenda specifically seeks to achieve quality education for all as one of its 17 sustainable development goals … A digital girls’ library collection is an innovative, entrepreneurial, and hopefully effective way to help close the gap in quality education.”

Promoting education for girls is a goal that’s been important to Hoffman since her undergraduate years, when she co-founded the Yale chapter of the student-run non-profit, Circle of Women, which works to provide access to education for girls around the world. She now sits on its board of directors.

Tilghman, who also serves on the board of Circle of Women, said, “As a technology investor and STEM major while at Yale, my world is data-driven. The digital girls’ library collection provides an optimal opportunity for digital data collection. The back-end of Library For All’s platform will enable us to conduct real-time monitoring and evaluation — we not only will be able to understand content preference trends, but we will also be able to analyze the correlation between this collection and other variables, including attendance, exam scores, and completion rates. Gender disaggregated data is a priority within the international community. … I am thrilled to be using technology to better data collection.”

Gwen Tilghman and Laura Hoffman (Photo by Shane Dummond for BFA)

The Library For All Girls’ Collection will be launched in Haiti where Library For All began its work in 2013 following the devastating 2010 earthquake. Library For All will curate approximately 50 locally relevant, high-quality titles for the collection. Once the girls’ collection has been constructed for the Haiti library, the concept will be replicated in Library For All’s other four digital libraries in Rwanda, Cambodia, Democratic Republic of Congo, and Mongolia.

Tilghman and Hoffman have launched a campaign to raise $10,000 to fund licensing and digitization costs, curation fees, and travel to meet with local publishers for the Haiti Girls’ Collection. A handful of titles will also be commissioned for this collection. You can learn more about the fundraising campaign the alumnae are spearheading here.

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