Dialogue of East European Partners (DEEP)


Anna Trojanowska-Bitka, Resource Manager
Free Enterprise Transition Center
U.S. Peace Corps - Akademia Ekonomiczna

This is the report on distribution of books donated by the Sabre Foundation, Inc., to Poland in 1995 prepared by the Free Enterprise Transition Center (FETC).

The Sabre Foundation, Inc., founded in 1969, is a public charity devoted to the philosophy and practice of free institutions. Its projects in recent years have focused on book donation, private sector development, and higher learning education, primarily in Eastern Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union. Sabre is a tax­exempt 501(c)(3) organization under the US Internal Revenue Code, and is registered as a Private Voluntary Organization with the US Agency for International Development.

The Book Donation Program is one of the three main branches of Sabre's Scientific Assistance Project. As the Polish Partner of the Sabre Foundation, FETC provides libraries and educational institutions in Poland with valuable publications. In the past three years FETC distributed approximately 52,000 textbooks for teaching and research in natural sciences, technology, English language and literature, social sciences, business, and economics. Over 120 organizations have been recipients of books. Some of them have participated in the program each of the three years it has been offered.

The FETC is responsible for clearing the shipment at the customs office, unloading the truck, securing a warehouse for books, unpacking, stamping, distributing information about offered titles and rules of participation in the program. We also collect orders from recipients, prepare databases of recipients and their orders, prepare book collections according to orders, and finally, organize the distribution process.

1995 Distribution Process:

In 1995 the FETC received for distribution 12,062 books on the following subjects: Americana, Applied Sciences, Art & Film, Business, Computer Science, Ecology, Economics, Education, Engineering, Geography, History, Judaica, Language, Law, Library Science, Literature, Media, Medicine, Philosophy, Political Sciences, Psychology, Science and Social Science.

Along with the Sabre's books for FETC there were approximately 3,000 books donated by the American Bar Association (ABA) packed in the same container. The ABA books were appointed for the ABA Central and Eastern European Law Initiative (CEELI) and were stored in a separate warehouse. The FETC staff was not involved in distribution of the ABA's books.

Among 58 Polish institutions participating in 1995's Book Donation Project there were several different kinds of libraries (a detailed list of recipients and a map of their site locations is attached):

18Teachers' Training Colleges
13business schools and colleges
2communal institutions
10associations and foundations
4North American Studies Centres
1high school library

1995 participants all together ordered over 18,000 books while there were only 12,062 offered. The books on Business & Economics, Language & Literature, Medicine and Science (Biology and Chemistry) were the most desired. In cases where the number of ordered materials exceeded the number of materials received, all recipients have been given fewer copies.

At the end of October 1995, 98% of the books were distributed. There are 240 books on Engineering left at the warehouse. The leftover books will be distributed along with the next new donation.

Cost of Distribution:

Participation in the program was free of charge; however, recipients were obliged to pick up the donation with their own means of transportation. Costs of distribution were covered by the FETC (labour, communication, printing and stationery) and the Cracow Academy of Economics (rent of the warehouse space, utilities and labour). Peace Corps Volunteers and students have helped to stamp the books and prepare parcels for recipients. The distribution expenses were as follows:

labour (staff) (240h.x5.6 PLN+20h.x12.5 PLN)1,594
rents/util. (9 months)2,000
custom agent fee350
truck unloading500
TOTAL: 4,884
This amount equals US $2,035 (exchange rate = 2.4 PLN).


In the month of December 1994 the Civic Education Project (CEP) published the report titled "Assessing the Impact of Book & Journal Donations to Central & Eastern Europe."1 It was stated in the report that: "Most donor organizations, and their local partner organizations, make little effort to find out whether donated books and journals are used as intended, whether potential users are informed of their existence and whether they are accessible to the reading public, or, as is too often the case, reserved for use by a privileged few." To know the situation in Poland regarding this matter, the FETC has developed a survey questionnaire. Approximately 100 forms (98) were mailed to organizations which participated in the program in the period of 1993­1995. Thirty­three (33) recipients responded to the survey.

In our survey we have asked the following questions which were, supposedly, to confirm or deny the CEP report'S announcement:

1. Are the books included into your institution's library?

2. Is information about the books accessible to the readers: are all the books catalogued? list of titles available?

3. Was the donation advertised? in the local press ? on the radio ? by distributing posters? other ? (explain)

4. How many hours a week is your library available to readers ?

5. Number of direct users of the donated collection? (use your library records, if possible) number of potential users? number of real users ?

6. Who has access to donated books? teachers? students of your school? other members of your community?

7. How are the books utilized? in place (reading room)? lent to use at home? reserved for students in courses being taught (so called "classes")? other? (explain)

8. Most popular titles (at least three):

9. Other information you would like to share.

Among the total 33 responding institutions there were:

3Teachers' Training Colleges
9business schools and colleges
1communal institutions
6associations and foundations
2North American Studies Centres

To analyse the survey's data a value of "1" was assigned to each "YES" answer, while "0" was attributed to a "NO" answer. For questions asking "how many?" an average value was calculated. Of the total 33 respondents:

  1. 90.9% (30) have included received books into their libraries; 21 of them: included the whole donation; 9: add some books to their collection and re­donated the rest of the books to other recipients on site; 3: re­donated all received books.

  2. 78.8% (26) have the books catalogued; there is a group of 11 distributing lists of titles as additional information; 5: have the list of titles as information for users only; (cataloguing in process in 1 case); 2: do not provide any information; these are re­distributors, they inform end­users displaying the books.

  3. 18.2% (6) did not advertise donation at all; 81.8% (27) advertised donation in several ways: in local press (3); local radio (2); on posters (5); these advertised, usually, using more than one media; 69.7% (23) used other ways to advertise, specifically: 5: in the organization's newsletter 8: by word of mouth (which should not be considered as advertising) 8: organizing exhibitions (the large libraries only).

  4. Almost all (except for one) organizations show that their libraries are open for users at certain hours (4 ­ 72 a week; average: 43)

  5. In 33.3% (11) cases there are no limits for users; anyone can ask for a book, therefore, the average number of potential users (1,969) is much higher in reality; 6 recipients, however, did not provide us with any number (N.A.); The average number of real users reach 1,497 (no data in 8 cases; some libraries do not record the separate statistics to prove the circulation of donated materials).

  6. 97% (32) reported that books are available for teachers; The same number pertains to students; 84.9% (28) state that all community members have access to the books.

  7. 97% (32) recipients have a reading room; 93.9% (31) lend; 51.5% (17) lend the books for a period the taught course lasts; however it does not necessarily meet the criteria of organized "classes"; we are uncertain whether the question was understood correctly.

  8. Recipients were in general satisfied with the donation. They are interested in receiving more books. They have addressed their further needs towards following donations (subjects in alphabetical order):

Automation, Banking, Biology, Business Practices, Business Communication, Chemistry, Computers, Democracy, Economics, Electronics, English, Environmental Protection, Finance, Geodesy, Geography, Geology, History, Human Resource Management, Law, Management, Marketing, Medicine, Mining, Organizational Behavior, Physics, Sales, Tourism.

Final Conclusions:

Statistical analysis of data collected from the recipient's responses do not confirm the CEP's report objections. Poland could consume more donated materials due to very low state subsidies for education. There is a long way towards financial independence of education in Poland. We support mostly middle-level educational institutions (colleges, high schools, beginning courses taught at universities); there is still a need for this type of material to be donated. An increasing number of high schools and colleges which teach courses in English enlarge the demand for English texts. Due to insufficient funding, these institutions must rely on donations. It is more difficult to gather sources of information for mass education.

Newly published advanced materials for research are rarely being donated. Outdated books and journals lose their value very fast. Donating very advanced materials is hazardous, because it is hard to locate interested individuals. There is no need for this type of material in large quantities. Scientists usually know other sources of publications due to their personal contacts, conferences they attend, etc. They can easily access information through the Internet, while most middle-level scholars are deprived of this opportunity.

Future Plans:

FETC will continue to assist in the Sabre Foundation's book donation program, but future distributions will be on a cost recovery basis. Polish organizations receiving books will be asked to pay a nominal fee per book to cover the cost of stamping and packing the books for distribution.

1. Editor's note: Copies of Sabre Foundation's response to this report are available from the Foundation's Cambridge offices.

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