Who We Are
Barb Mackraz, Founder & Director
Palo Alto, California
"I first visited Morocco in 2013, anxious to explore its gorgeous architecture and geometric arts. One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I had fallen in love with the country, its deeply historical blend of cultures, and the warm hospitality of the people I met. That was just the beginning, and now this project has blossomed into a full-time passion. It's an honor to work with such dedicated English teachers in Morocco, to help them inspire learning and a culture of reading among their students. It is also my hope that we'll build a strong community between the US and Morocco, a lasting bridge of friendship."
Barb spent a long career in research and design for tech companies in Silicon Valley, before starting this initiative in January 2014. She has always loved arts, literature, languages, and learning about other cultures, and she is passionate about literacy and sharing the bounty of good fortune more equally. (mission)
Time for a 2020 Update!
Hello friends. I wrote the bio above in early 2014, when I first started Morocco Library Project (MLP). Since then, MLP has grown beyond my wildest dreams and has blossomed into a truly wonderful cross-cultural partnership with teachers and friends all over Morocco. In 2017, I founded a 501c3 in the U.S. called OliveSeed ("planting a seed of peace"), and we now manage MLP as part of OliveSeed. As ever, MLP is an all-volunteer initiative. We have an advisory team of Moroccan teachers who help with logistics and strategy, and the teacher Ali Amhal serves on the OliveSeed board. We are very grateful to this team who are giving their time and their expertise to make sure MLP continues to thrive.
~ Barb Mackraz
A few of us at the MLP Book Fair in Marrakech, 2019
Thank you to these young leaders, who continue to be an important part of MLP
Bzou & Beni-Melal, Morocco
Zagora & Marrakech, Morocco
Erfoud & Meknes, Morocco
Erfoud & Meknes, Morocco
Ferdawss Ben Malk
Sept El-Guerdane, Morocco
Thank you to our friends who helped MLP begin
Erfoud & Marrakech, Morocco
Muha was Barb's guide in 2013 and showed her a one-room schoolhouse in a Gnawan community in the desert, which was the original spark that started the library idea. He later introduced her to the first MLP teacher, Abdelghani Bakhri. He has also helped MLP with travel and transporting books.
Palo Alto, CA & Cambridge, MA
"After hearing about Morocco Library Project and getting to know Barb in high school, I decided to join because I believe books and literary resources have an undeniably powerful influence on learning. Personally, I am lucky enough to have read many wonderful books—and that helped me improve my language skills when I first moved to the United States at a young age. It has also been wonderful getting to know some of the members on the Young Leadership Team in Morocco and their stories; their dedication and commitment truly inspire me. I’m honored to be a part of this team and can’t wait to see what the future holds for this amazing project!"
Hannah was a high school student in Palo Alto and is currently studying economics and public policy at Harvard. Her favorite book is Matilda by Roald Dahl. She helped us with events in the early days and is excited to continue helping MLP spread its mission while at college.
“As an avid amateur photographer, a trip to Morocco had always been high on my bucket list, and in March of 2016, I had the privilege to travel there. While constantly photographing, something unexpected happened: Morocco entered my heart and my mind. The beauty of the land, the rich cultural history, and the genuine hospitality of its people made an indelible mark on me. My connection to Morocco was born, and I am honored to be working with the dedicated team members on Morocco Library Project.”
Barbara developed a library for Lalla Salma High School in Rissani in 2016, with the Sonoma High School student Lena Mallett. She's also a bookseller at Reader's Books in Sonoma and is on the Advisory Board of the Sonoma Public Library.
Rissani & Marrakech, Morocco
"Travel and interaction with internationals has changed my life. It has taught me about the world, the people in it, and myself. This has given me an education I never would have received just inside the classroom: that there is a big world out there. As someone who knows the power of education and travel, I wanted to give students in Morocco a chance through books to see beyond their borders, and to show them there is a world of possibility if they are willing to grab it. I believe in what Malcolm X said, 'Education is the passport to the future.'"
As a guide for Barbara Hall in 2016, Mohammed spoke of his desire to help the young students in his hometown, and through those discussions the idea for a library in Rissani was born. He collaborated with Barbara Hall on that project.
Martha's Vineyard, MA
"After visiting Morocco in 2016 and 2017, I found myself wanting to get involved with the country on a deeper level. As a librarian, I dreamed of working with libraries to help serve rural and undeveloped areas. Imagine my surprise when an Internet search yielded Morocco Library Project! I immediately wrote to Barb, and in less than a month we had books going to three schools. I'm thrilled to be part of such a wonderful organization that helps educate the future of Morocco."
Carolina is a librarian on the island of Martha's Vineyard. After developing an obsession with the color Majorelle Blue, she traveled to Morocco to visit the Majorelle Gardens in Marrakech and fell in love with the country. Carolina now shares the artistry of Morocco through trade shows and has carried books to Morocco with her.
Palo Alto, CA & Washington, DC
"When at first I heard about this project I was immediately blown away by Barb's effort to create an easy access way to get books and the English language instilled in the Moroccan school system. I am so honored to be a part of this amazing and fulfilling project and to be working with such amazing people who are truly changing the world for the better. I have always loved to read and write, and now I have a chance to help other kids do the same. Making a difference in the world sometimes seems impossible, but if and when you find the right team it can be a life-changing experience."
Sanaa was a high student in Palo Alto and is now studying political science in DC. She's an avid reader, with her favorite book being Kiki Strike. In her free time, she writes stories and poems. Sanaa helped Barb with events and packing boxes in the early days.
Regional Supervisor, Ministry of Education, Morocco
"As an English language teaching supervisor, I always support initiatives that promote literacy and, specifically, extensive reading projects. I also strongly believe in cross-cultural education and its great importance for world peace and tolerance. As the mission of Morocco Library Project is to boost language skills and strengthen cultural bonds between Morocco and the US, I did not hesitate to join the initiative and contribute to its success. Being an active member of MATE (Moroccan Association of Teachers of English) also gives me a chance to support the success of the project nationwide."
Lahcen helped greatly by coordinating with teachers and ministry members in the earliest days of Morocco Library Project. He's now one of our advisors.