Sunday, 23 April 2017

World Book and Copyright Day 2017

23 April marks World Book and Copyright Day, an event which has been celebrated annually since it was designated by UNESCO in 1995.
It was a natural choice for UNESCO's General Conference, held in Paris in 1995, to pay a world-wide tribute to books and authors on this date, encouraging everyone, and in particular young people, to discover the pleasure of reading and gain a renewed respect for the irreplaceable contributions of those, who have furthered the social and cultural progress of humanity. – United Nations

The association with this date was first muted as far back as 1923, by booksellers in the Catalonia region of Spain, as a way to honour the author Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), who died on this date. It is also on this date that William Shakespeare (1564-1616) and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega (1539-1616) died, as well as marking the date of birth of numerous prominent authors, whose respective careers span many languages, countries, centuries. Although Shakespeare and Cervantes died on the same date, they did not die on the same day. At the time, Spain used the Gregorian calendar and England used the Julian calendar; Cervantes actually died 10 days before Shakespeare did.

The association with the death (and possible birth – his exact date of birth is unknown but there is good reason to believe that he breathed his first and last on the same date) of William Shakespeare has led to the additional designation of 23 April as English Language Day at the UN: the result of a 2010 initiative to establish language days for each of the organisation's six official languages.

As previously noted, due to the potential for clashes with other celebrations and events surrounding this date (23 April is also the celebrated as the feast day of St. George, patron saint of England), in the United Kingdom, the main events surrounding World Book Day take place on the first Thursday in March.

Each year, UNESCO and the international organisations representing the three major sectors of the book industry – publishers, booksellers and libraries, select the World Book Capital for a one-year period, effective 23 April each year. In 2017, Conakry, capital of Guinea, has been chosen, singled out "on account of the quality and diversity of its programme, in particular its focus on community involvement" as well as "for its well-structured budget and clear development goals with a strong emphasis on youth and literacy."

Further information, including activities and resources surrounding World Book and Copyright Day, is available from UNESCO.

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