International Bureau of Education
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Preserving the historical heritage of the IBE

Built over a span of 90 years of work, the IBE Documentation Centre features rare books, some of which are unique to the IBE, and archives documenting its history from 1925 to 1969. The IBE is now engaged in digitizing these precious materials and making them available online so that researchers, historians and educationists can easily consult them.
Today, the UNESCO-IBE’s extensive Documentation Centre consists of different collections, including over 25,000 historical textbooks starting from the 1700s and covering more than 30 various subjects. These textbooks represent around 140 countries, some of which no longer exist, and 104 languages, many of which are rare and endangered. A second collection comprises the IBE historical archives and chronicles containing original handwritten documents and manuscripts dating back to 1925. Thus, this compilation traces the timeline for the heritage and development of education, writing, and social norms throughout the years.

With the contribution of both the textbooks and IBE archives, not only does the IBE provide study books or teaching guides for K-12 and adults, but also a research resource for comparative analysis of international education dating back several decades.

In conjunction with the exponential advancements of technology in the last decade, it is imperative for the Documentation Centre to adjust to these changes. The transition into the online library consists of two major procedures – cataloguing and digitization. Once catalogued and digitized, the delicate and momentous items can be placed into proper conditions, ensuring there is no exposure to detrimental conditions and elements. Furthermore, all of these documents will provide easy access for researchers, historians, and the public alike without any endangerment of these invaluable archives.

Thanks to the support of a private donor and to a generous donation from a private Swiss foundation, the IBE will implement the project during 2016 and 2017, with four phases for the textbooks and six for the archives.