As a library worker, avid reader, and lover of all things bookish, I’ve experienced first-hand the impact of books. The past 365 days+ have been tumultuous to say the least and we have seen more than ever the scope of books: the connection they provide through time, generations and cultures; the education they provide through learning and exploring; the solace they provide through familiarity and escape. Books (et al.) have demonstrated time and again their power to abate isolation, bridge the gap and fill the void.
The World Book and Copyright Day was inaugurated in 1995, when United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) felt it necessary to globally invite folks to partake in a yearly celebratory tribute to books and authors around the world. UNESCO chose April 23 for its symbolism in the literary world; many renowned and beloved authors have both died and been born on this very day, including Miguel de Cervantes (Don Quixote) and William Shakespeare (Romeo & Juliet). Celebrations take place all around the world to recognize the importance, influence, and impression of books and of those who pen them, have on, and throughout, our lives.
In 2001, UNESCO introduced further promotion of World Book and Copyright Day by nominating a World Book Capital, a capital city of UNESCO member states from the list of applicants, chosen to implement the best program aimed at promoting books and fostering reading. As a chosen World Book Capital, the city holds the distinction for a year, until the next World Book and Copyright Day. I’m sure 2020’s capital city, Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), didn’t expect the world to be amid a global pandemic when they signed on to the task back in 2018, but they persevered. They now hand the position over to Tbilisi (Georgia) for 2021.
Often referred to as World Book Day, the World Book and Copyright Day is also a time to inform of and promote the importance of the work itself, of the artist, the author, and the pen behind the books. What are the rights of an author in this digital age? It is imperative to acknowledge both ownership of and access to the written word. UNESCO, like many authors and readers, believes in equal access to knowledge. By promoting literacy, mobile learning and access to educational resources, UNESCO continues to stand up for and celebrate creativity and diversity in the literary world.
Check out an array of books available here at OPL, from books about reading to writers’ rights and from Canadian copyright content to an ol’ Shakespeare play, you’re bound to find something in the list below to honour this momentous yearly celebration. And if nothing catches your eye, simply pick up an old favourite or your current read. Whatever your day entails, ensure to set aside some time to read – 30 minutes is but 2% of your day!
“Books have the unique ability both to entertain and to teach. They are at once a means of exploring realms beyond our personal experience through exposure to different authors, universes and cultures, and a means of accessing the deepest recesses of our inner selves.”-Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO