This year’s World Book Day was commemorated in Accra yesterday on the theme: “Solidifying the book industry and reading for national development”.
Also known as the World Book and Copyright Day, the day was instituted by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to promote reading, publishing and copyright.
The first commemoration was done in the United Kingdom in 1995.
Passage of Bill
The Minister of Education, Dr Yaw Adutwum, urged stakeholders in the educational sector to support the ministry as it pushed for the passage of the Ghana Book Development Agency Bill into law.
The bill, when passed, would provide a more definite mandate for the agency to operate as a ‘parent’ body in the book industry, he said.
Additionally, the minister said, there should be a national book and reading policy to regulate the reading, development, assessment, production and distribution of books in the country.
That was contained in a speech read on behalf of the minister by the Chief Director of the ministry, Mr Benjamin Kwasi Gyasi, at the event.
“We also have to build a culture of literary events for pupils and students across the country, such as international and regional book fairs and well-coordinated reading programmes,” he added.
The minister acknowledged the contribution of players in the book industry, including authors, publishers, editors, printers, booksellers, librarians and other stakeholders, in advancing the publishing of indigenous books.
“I think that one of the factors involved in taking education to greater heights in the country is building a robust book industry and a well-structured reading system where students at all levels will not read only textbooks but also have supplementary readers to enhance their functional literacy,” Dr Adutwum said.
Importance of books
The Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Audrey Azoulay, said books were the means of exploring realms beyond personal experience through exposure to different authors, ideas and cultures.
“Page by page, books light a path for us to roam, unbound by time or borders. In other words, books give us freedom. It is the power of books that we all need right now,” she added.
While celebrating books, Ms Azoulay said, there was also the need to celebrate their authors, who had provided snippets of life and insights into other realities.
In that regard, she said, UNECSO was supporting the work of publishers through undertakings such as its partnership with the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) and the International Publishers Association (IPA).
The Executive Director of the Ghana Library Authority (GLA), Mr Hayford Siaw, said the authority had increased its book stock to 1,078,691.
He said in 1981, the number of books on shelves across public libraries in Ghana was 1,049,526, declining to 349,941 in 2016, an indication that 699,585 books were missing.
“Over a space of three years, the GLA, recognising the critical role of books, increased our stock to 1,078,691. The most treasured resource of every public library in the world is the number of books it has at its disposal for the use of patrons,” he said.
Mr Siaw also said the GLA currently had 95 public libraries under its management, with 43 of them being renovated and restocked with relevant books.
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