Projects - 23 March 2023


In Lebanon, Bibliothèques Sans Frontières, in parternship with Amel, a local Lebanese association, has been strengthening access to education, autonomy and cohesion of local and refugee populations for the past two years due to the ongoing unprecedented economic and political crisis in the country. With the support of the French Development Agency, BSF has set up three Ideas Box libraries in Beirut, Khiam, and Kamed el-Loz. Thematic workshops are organized every day by Amel workers, allowing participants to regain self-confidence, learn professional skills, find a job, and ultimately to face the challenges they are experiencing.

Augustin Trapenard, ambassador of Libraries Without Borders, visited these Ideas Box pop-ups to meet the people who run them on a daily basis and to emphasize the essential role of education in emergency situations.

Video: Louis Villers

Since the explosion in the port of Beirut on August 4, 2020, which killed more than 200 people and ravaged entire neighborhoods, Lebanon has still not recovered. Marked by a spectacular inflation increase, the crisis continues to negatively affect the living conditions of many Lebanese.

The situation is also making it increasingly difficult for the most vulnerable people to access education and integrate into society. With the collapse of the Lebanese Pound, many parents can no longer pay for their children’s school trips. School dropout rates are skyrocketing, especially for refugee children and adolescents (mainly Syrian and Palestinian). Most often, they live in organized camps with their relatives, on agricultural land, where some of them work in the fields to earn a little money.


of the Lebanese population lives below the poverty line (UN)


of Syrain refugee children living in Lebanon no longer have access to education (UNHCR)


of Lebanese youth are unemployed or aren’t enrolled in any schooling or training (UNICEF)

Our Response

Since 2021, BSF has deployed Ideas Boxes in three of Amel’s social centers, reinforcing the efforts of the local association in Beirut, Khiam and Kamed el-Loz. The pop-up libraries contain physical and digital books selected by BSF (mainly in Arabic and English), board games, job market resources, programming for language learning, cooking, hairdressing, and carpentry. BSF and Amel also offer awareness workshops on women’s rights, early marriage, and health prevention.

Trained by members of BSF, mediators, social workers and psychologists use the resources of these libraries to offer young Lebanese citizens as well as refugees general literacy, English lessons, and remedial education courses that align with Lebanese programs. Certain workshops are reserved exclusively for women to learn computer skills, look for a job, or start their own business – such as selling their embroidery and other crafts.

“BSF’s three Ideas Boxes have diversified and strengthened Amel’s educational support actions, thanks to the variety of tools, content, and activities. Above all, they create bridges between our different departments, programs, and teams throughout the country. Several times a year, the library mediators meet to share their best practices, any difficulties they are experiencing, and discuss ways to improve. Together, they learn from each other’s experiences, brainstorm new ideas for workshops to try to meet the varied challenges locals and refugees face today, and will face tomorrow!” Marwa Chami, Ideas Box coordinator at Amel association.

In two years, 5,000 Lebanese children, youth, adults and refugees have benefited from the combined efforts of Bibliothèques Sans Frontières and Amel. In the coming years, Amel is interested in deploying more Ideas Boxes in several of its centers to amplify its positive impact on the most vulnerable populations throughout the country.

Bibliothèques Sans Frontières empowers vulnerable populations by facilitating access to education, culture, and information. In France and in more than 30 countries, the association creates innovative spaces to live and shelters that allow people affected by crises and uncertainty about learning to have fun, create links, and build their futures.


Translation: Luca Richman