Evergreen Education Foundation is an NGO founded by Prof. Faith Chao and oversea Chinese friends in 2001 in the United States. Her mission is to improve information literacy of rural China, through building modern libraries in rural areas, to facilitate the educational, social, economic, and cultural development of these areas. In 2002, China Evergreen Rural Library Service (CERLS) was established. It is reponsible for project execution, coordination, and monitoring for Evergreen libraries in China.
To build modern libraries, Evergreen uses the two-phase approach: the automation of library management, followed by improving the library service to be equal, human touch, pluralistic, and community-oriented. To develop libraries systematically in a region, Evergreen divides libraries into two-level hierarchy: central libraries (high school libraries or county public libraries) and satellites (middle school, elementary school libraries, or rural book stations), and using developed central libraries as a helping force in guiding and training satellites. See The Path of Evergreen for details.
Since the first school library - Qinghai DaTong No. 6 High School, Evergreen has helped 40+ libraries in Qinghai, GanSu, ShaanXi, JiangSu, GuiZhou, YunNan, ShanXi. Among them 18 are central libraries. These libraries in turn helped 20+ satellite libraries nearby. Evergreen has established a mobile book barn for 4 migrant children schools.
Evergreen's model of library development in rural China focusing on capability build has been widely recognized. In 2004, CERLS was awarded the 2004 Access to Learning Award by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for its acccomplishments and innovative approach.
The annual training and exchange based on workshop or conference is a special service that Evergreen provides for capability build of the rural libraries. Since 2003, every other year in the odd years Evergreen organizes a workshop on rural library development, while every other year in the even years, Evergreen hosts an international conference on the same topic. Up to now, Evergreen has held 3 successful international conferences:
Every international conference witnessed 200-300 delegates. Evergreen sponsors around 100 rural librarians and teachers to participate each time. The conference delegates and the speakers came from areas including US, Britain, Taiwan, Hongkong, South-east Asia and Mainland China, and consisted mostly of professors, teachers, librarians, public servants, and NGO members.