On a continent where large swaths are often swept by drought, famine and poverty, development officials often speak of another kind of scarcity in Africa: “book poverty” or a shortage of books and educational materials.

Such shortages can not only hinder economic development, but also development of judicial systems and adjacent institutions.

“When you place a book in the hands of a young, aspiring person in Africa, you are not just changing the life of that person…you are also changing the lives of the people that they touch,” said Jote Taddese, board president, Books for Africa, which is the largest shipper of donated books to the African continent.

Thomson Reuters works together with the Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative, which is part of Books for Africa, to address the shortage of legal books in Africa. Books are regularly gathered, packed and shipped from the Thomson Reuters Minneapolis-St. Paul campus. Since 2008, Thomson Reuters has donated more than 30,000 books to court systems, law schools, bar associations, human rights and other non-profit organizations and institutions in Africa.

Not only do the books provide valuable reference and educational materials, but Thomson Reuters has worked diligently with the Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative and Books for Africa to provide fully stocked law libraries in 22 countries.

The partnership recently marked a significant milestone: the 100th law library was delivered to the national court system of Namibia. Chief Justice Peter Shivute of the Supreme Court on Namibia received the books at a ceremony with Tom Leighton, vice president of Content Operations at Thomson Reuters, and Lane Ayres, director of the Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative. This milestone was celebrated at a ceremony hosted by Thomson Reuters last week.

“In many ways, this 100th library was like many before it – it started with a need, a hope for what it could mean, and some great people who had a will to make a difference and the perseverance to make it happen,” said John Elstad, head of Global Content Operations, Thomson Reuters.

Our partnership has grown to include not only Thomson Reuters and West titles, but also Sweet and Maxwell, Carswell, Revista dos Tribunias, and Les Editions Yvon Blais. This makes it possible for the donated law libraries to feature a complement of human rights, international law and legal practice publications to better serve the law students, legal professionals and government officials, and include titles in English, Portuguese and French.

“It truly is a global effort, both at Thomson Reuters and Books for Africa, to gather the right content, and ensure the materials are then placed with the appropriate organizations to meet their specific needs,” said Sharon Sayles-Belton, vice president of partnerships and alliances, Thomson Reuters.

Thomson Reuters is proud to promote rule of law and access to justice, and honored to continue to collaborate with Books for Africa and the Jack Mason Law & Democracy Initiative to deliver even more law libraries to the continent of Africa in the future.

To learn more about this unique partnership, and the impact it is having throughout Africa, click here.