From Small Beginnings
From its roots as a personal quest of one man to today's accomplishment of the shipment of over 5 million text and resource books, IBSF demonstrated its sustainability over time. It has a proven track record and the ability to acquire, process, and send the quantity and quality of educational resource materials appropriate for rural international communities.
Robert J. Brown laid the mission of the Foundation in place in 1985, when he visited South Africa on a business trip. Mr. Brown recollects that "I took an opportunity to go see firsthand the conditions of the schools in Soweto. While visiting the local high school, I stepped into the library and met the librarian, Mrs. Patience Maisela, who was diligently handwriting on index cards to catalog her meager collection. What I call a library was really just a few shelves of well worn books. When I asked her what was the greatest thing I could do for her library, she asked me to send books. Her children loved to read but that they have so few books."
"When I returned to the United States, I discovered that the local school system was discarding thousands of discontinued cirricula books each year. As the syllabuses changed and books were being removed from circulation, these old books were simply being thrown into landfills. The knowledge and information in these books was still valuable and the books were still in great condition. They could be put to a much better use than filling a landfill. I convinced the local school system to donate the discarded books and I shipped the first of many containers of books to Africa out of my own pocket."
Although South Africa threw off the yoke of Apartheid in the 1990's, it still faces enormous resource needs. Thousands of schools still exist without adequate books in their libraries. As the needs expanded, so did the word of the good work of the Foundation. Requests came in from many other African Nations to assist them with their book needs. To that end, the Foundation changed its name to the International BookSmart Foundation in 2007. With expanded operations in several African nations, the Foundation stands ready to assist with the educational needs of the children, wherever they exist.