Even with the Internet and iPad, people around the world need books.

Since 1988, St. Paul-based Books for Africa has shipped more than 26 million books to kids and adults in 46 African countries. If the group's recent reception for Kenya's ambassador and Nigeria's deputy ambassador was any indication, Books for Africa is really ramping up. The goal is to ship 2.2 million books this year, said Patrick Plonski, executive director.

Over the years, Books for Africa has had visiting dignitaries from many of the countries to which it ships, too.

"The message delivered is that the highest units of government are endorsing our activity," Plonski said. "That's important -- what they're supporting is helpful and useful in Africa."

While dictionaries, encyclopedias and atlases, along with other tomes, are in demand, Books for Africa is looking to e-readers and digital content. In the meantime, it's focused on sending 700,000 books in the single largest shipment yet.

It's just another chapter in spreading literacy around the globe.

Sara Glassman • 612-673-7177