In 2013, we collaborated on a new visual identity for International Book Project, a nonprofit that ships gently used books to communities in need at home and abroad. We introduced a new logo based on its optimistic mission: an animated book that folded into a paper airplane, ready to spread literacy across the globe.
We recently checked back in with Will Glasscock, the Vice President of IBP’s Board of Directors. He told us about how the visual identity has grown with the organization. “That paper airplane is such a simple symbol, but it sells the message of what IBP does,” he says. This year, the organization has embarked on an ambitious new goal: to deliver half a million books worldwide by 2020.
But before they could take on that challenge, they faced a decision. They needed a safer, more efficient space. They could either abandon the old headquarters or stay put. “It was in pretty rough shape,” Will told us of the old facility. “It was freezing cold in the winter, burning up in the summer, and there were holes in the wall. It was just a building that was sorely lacking in repair and renovation.”
They chose to stay, gutting the existing warehouse to create a bright and airy space. They tore down ceilings to reveal wooden vaulted ceilings, a hidden architecture gem. A new art piece, a metal airplane inspired by the logo, now exists on the facade to welcome visitors.
The renovation was also an opportunity to raise brand awareness. Many people didn’t realize that IBP was based in Lexington, and the renovation was a great opportunity to reintroduce itself in a meaningful way. “Being part of that Delaware Avenue corridor, where you have Pivot Brewery and Pasta Garage, IBP is a part of that community and felt a real need to have the new space reflect that,” Will says.
A community bookstore is now located at the front of the facility, visible from the street. It’s open to the public. Anyone who has just completed a Marie Kondo-inspired tidying bender can leave unwanted reads in the drop-off box, and passersby can pop in to buy a book or two.
Grounding the organization in its community has enabled them to profess its local commitments, which have long existed, more loudly. “In addition to the work that IBP does internationally, IBP does a lot domestically,” Will explains. “That’s something we try to talk a lot about because a lot of people who are aware of IBP aren’t aware of the domestic piece.”
Locally, IBP has an ongoing partnership with Habitat for Humanity and Kentucky Refugee Ministries to deliver bookshelves and curated book collections to families in their new homes. The Books as Bridges program connects classrooms in the US, mostly in Central Kentucky, with ones abroad. Classrooms exchange letters and cultural packages – basketballs and books are sent from Kentucky and artwork is sent from overseas. Across the US, IBP sends books to schools and organizations lacking access to books. In 2017, IBP sent 85,000 books to libraries in Houston affected by Hurrican Harvey.
The new facility has made IBP’s local commitments more salient, and its increased efficiency has advanced its goal of shipping half a million books internationally by 2020. IBP now counts around 140 partners in 45 countries, reflecting the organization’s energy and momentum that originally inspired the airplane logo.
Learn more about the International Book Project at intlbookproject.org.
Written by Thomas Freeman