The Cost of Getting Books Read in Rural Africa: Estimates from a Survey of Library Use in Burkina Faso


  • Michael Kevane Santa Clara University
  • Alain Joseph Sissao Institut des Sciences des Sociétés (INSS)


Estimates of the impact of libraries on reading in eight villages in Burkina Faso and costs of running libraries enable us to suggest that the cost of getting an extra book read a year varies from $.74 to $1.30, according to the size of the school in the village, and the cost of an extra school year equivalent likewise varies from $43.42 to $75.98 per year. These costs are comparable to the costs of increasing schooling, and suggest the desirability of more careful assessment of the choice between schooling and book availability.

Author Biographies

Michael Kevane, Santa Clara University

Associate Professor in the Department of Economics at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, Calif.

Alain Joseph Sissao, Institut des Sciences des Sociétés (INSS)

Researcher at the Institut des Sciences des Sociétés (INSS) in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso.