Our history

Our organisation was founded in 1954 by Hermione, Countess of Ranfurly, who recognised the power of books to change lives.


In 1952 the Countess of Ranfurly moved to the Bahamas with her husband, who was Governor General there. As Lady Ranfurly toured the islands she was shocked at the lack of reading materials for all ages. She set about collecting books that could be packed up and sent on to schools, libraries and institutions on the islands. Thus, the Ranfurly Out Island Library was born.

Lady Ranfurly

On her return to the UK in 1956 she decided to expand┬áher ‘book scheme’ to the British Commonwealth. The Ranfurly Library Service took up residence in London and sent books to countries all over the world.

Over the years, the charity evolved and moved to a model of sending only brand new books in response to partner requests, as well as running projects and programmes to create inspiring spaces for children. In 1994, the Ranfurly Library Service changed its name to Book Aid International.

Since 1954, we have sent more than 37 million books to libraries across the world. Today, we provide around one million brand new, carefully selected books to people in libraries, schools, universities, refugee camps, hospitals and prisons around the world every year. Many of these people would otherwise have few books, or even no books at all.


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