The website "Learning from History" is a publication platform
for educational projects (realized in schools
and in out-of-school, youth education)
dedicated to the history of Poland and its neighbors in the 20th century and human rights
Local Library as a place of human rights education: a textbook for educators and training
Location / Region: Warsaw
Institution: KARTA Center Foundation
Patron / Project supervision: KARTA Center Foundation
Project authors: KARTA Center Foundation
Age group: Mixed group
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Team of the KARTA Center Foundation
+48 22 844 10 55

Introductory remarks

The project’s aim is to show the relevance of the idea of human rights from the perspective of historical experiences and make the local library a place of promotion of the knowledge on human rights and awareness of their universal and general character. The project’s team wants to make the knowledge, skills, tools and materials connected with human rights education available to librarians from the two rounds of the Local Tradition Digital Archives project (240 librarians from 120 libraries). The project is to result in the development of a human rights textbook available as an e-book

The project “Library as a place of human rights education: a textbook for educators and training” is to inspire municipal libraries from small places (of up to 20,000 residents) to start activities in human rights education and provide the substantive and methodological support for such activities. The project’s basic outcome will be an electronic textbook (e-book) available under the CC-BY-SA license. The textbook development was dynamic. An initial version of the publication was developed prior to librarian’s training and then supplemented on the basis of their comments.

Textbook’s structure:
The structure of the textbook contain almost 200 pages. You can download the whole textbook here.

From the editors

1. Human rights theory. Introduction to the idea of human rights; presentation of the historical origin of the development of the human rights system (with the main emphasis on the experience of World Ware II and the Holocaust), review of human rights idea in the Polish legislation.

>> to download here >>

2. Methods of human rights education. Presentation of major human rights education methods with a clear reference to the municipal library potential.

>> to download here >>

3. Workshop scenarios
"State interference and control" by Monika Lipka
"Relations between Minorities and Majorities" by Monika Mazur-Rafał & Magdalena Szarota
"Social rights" by Monika Lipka
"The rights of accused and of convicted persons" by Monika Lipka
"Freedom of speech" by Monika Mazur-Rafał & Magdalena Szarota 

>> to download here >>

4. Iconographic sources: 30 photographs from the history of Poland and her neighbours (in the 20th century) showing the issue of human rights observance and the struggle for their respect from various perspectives. Each photograph was provided with respective historical comments and methodological description of how to use them in the human rights education process (including a proposal of specific exercises based on their analysis). 

>> to download here >>

The aim of this part of textbook is to push recipients of the educational section to self interpretation of iconographic sources. That's why photos and comments are presented separately.

The sources are divided thematic: a) state interference and control – no 5, 10, 12, 13, 23, 27, b) relations between Minorities and Majorities – no 1, 2, 6, 11, 15, 29, c) social rights – no 7, 14, 16, 17, 20, 30, d) rights of accused and of convicted persons – number 3, 8, 9, 21, 24, 26, e) freedom of speech – number  4, 18, 19, 22, 25, 28.

Most of the rights mentioned in interpretative texts were only codified after the events shown in the illustrations. The regulation of rights was, therefore, a kind of reaction to events and the rights were made law in order to ensure that similar events do not occur in the future. 

Work on the textbook and making it available online
The initial version of the textbook was tested and consulted with librarians taking part in the Local Tradition Digital Archives project (four training courses for some 120 librarians from 60 places). This made it possible to better adjust the textbook’s content to the needs and possibilities of libraries.

The LTDA project consists of developing grass-roots social archives in municipal libraries with a view to saving the local historical heritage. The “History at Hand” competition motivates post-primary school pupils to study the (family, local) close history on one’s own based on professional historical research methods (oral history interviews, criticism of sources, etc.). Human rights-related threads appear naturally in both projects – the developed textbook may be successfully used in both these initiatives.

Modules connected with the human rights theory and education methods will be developed by experts dealing with these issues on a daily basis. Source materials will be based on the KARTA Center’s archival and publishing resources.

Making the textbook available in the form of an e-book under the CC-BY-SA license will definitely expand the project’s area of influence also to libraries which are not taking part in the Local Tradition Digital Archives project, teachers, educators from non-governmental organizations and local activists. The license will make it possible to use part of the textbook to prepare other publications, develop presentations or supplement entries in the largest Internet encyclopaedia – the Wikipedia.

There are 200 printed versions of the textbook to be distributed among the libraries taking part in the project and selected organizations and institutions engaged in human rights education.

For more information about the project you can ask Agnieszka Kudelka:, +48 22 844 10 55. 

The project "Local Library as a place of human rights education: a textbook for educators and training" is being implemented within the TEACHING HUMAN RIGHTS programme with support from the Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future”.

Photo: The second visit of the Pope Johannes Paul the Second in Poland. On the photo people in Częstochowa welcome the Pope with the banner: Welcome the defender of human rights! Photographer Stanisław Gębczak, collection of the KARTA Center, handed over by Kazimierz Helebrandt. Source: Website


Didactic text

The textbook is to include the theoretical basis of the knowledge of human rights, education practice and selection of sources from Poland’s 20th century history illustrating human rights questioning/recognizing, as well as substantive and methodological comments − with references to the present time to be able to use them in educational work in local communities.

Historical inspection
Researching local history
Interpreting historical documents
Interpreting photographs
Totalitarian regimes
Soviet repressions against civilians