IBP was started in 1966 by Harriet Van Meter.
When Mrs. Van Meter visited India in 1965, she found long lines of people waiting not for food, but for books. She was so moved by her experience that upon returning home, she placed an advertisement offering to send books to those in need in an English-speaking newspaper in India. She received a phenomenal response and started sending books from her basement. You can learn more about IBP's history by watching our video, The Power of One.
In the 40 years since IBP began, the organization has not only grown, but also stayed true to its grassroots beginnings. We still send individually crafted shipments of M-bags of a few dozen books to small organizations. In the 1990s, IBP began sending sea containers of 20,000 books to organizations with the infrastructure and capacity to handle a large shipment of books.
In 2007, IBP started a new program to keep Harriet's legacy of culture-to-culture, pen-pal friendships alive called Books as Bridges. Books as Bridges (BAB) partners classrooms in Central Kentucky with recipient classrooms in the developing world in order to exchange letters, artwork, and culture. To learn more about Books as Bridges, please click here.
About Our Founder, Harriet Van Meter
Born in 1910, Mrs. Harriet Van Meter had already accomplished a lifetime's work of social benefit to her community before she founded the International Book Project in 1966.
Mrs. Van Meter was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1986 for her efforts to increase world literacy and placed among the eight final nominees.
She also received national recognition, such as the 1989 Kiwanis World Service Medal, as well as many regional service awards. In 1992, the International Book Project was chosen as one of twenty (out of 400 organizations) to be recognized as a "Partner for Peace" by President George Bush and former Peace Corps Director Elaine Chao for its support of the U.S. Peace Corps Program.
After her death in 1997, Mrs. Van Meter was honored by admission to the permenant "Kentucky Women Remembered" Exhibit. The documentary Harriet Van Meter: A Life Extraordinary was produced in 2006 to celebrate her life and achievements.