On Saturday, 23 April 2016, UNESCO celebrates books and literacy as part of the UNESCO World Book and Copyright Day. UNESCO’s idea that books should be seen as global symbols of social progress is one that resonates with us here at Sydney University Press. As scholarly publishers we aim to publish books that engage, inspire and stimulate debate. Books and the written word have the capacity to change the lives of individuals, and to change society.
If creating a book can change the world, what can taking away a book do? In 1996, the year of the first World Book and Copyright Day, UNESCO also compiled “Lost Memory”, a list of libraries and archives destroyed during the twentieth century. In a sombre counterpoint to the celebrations of World Book and Copyright Day, it documents libraries lost to war, vandalism, natural disaster and neglect. As Hans van der Hoeven notes in his introduction, “books, periodicals and manuscripts constitute the collective ‘Memory of the World’”; when we lose one, we forget a piece of our past. While celebrating World Book and Copyright Day, we took a moment to remember some of these “lost” books and libraries