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April 2016

Abandoned books in Pripyat, Ukraine

Abandoned books in Pripyat, Ukraine. Photo by Magalie L'Abbé, 2011, via Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

By Phil Jones and Denise O'Dea

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


Stacks of paperback books

Photo by jvoves, 2009, via Flickr Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

By Eisha Farrukh

“Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are our most powerful weapons.” – Malala Yousafzai

The twenty-third of April commemorates an eventful day for world literature. On this date in 1616, Shakespeare and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega both died, leaving their final mark on the world. Since then, other notable authors such as Vladimir Nabokov, Maurice Druon, Manuel Mejía Vallejo, Josep Pla and Halldór K. Laxness were either born or passed away on the same date. As a tribute to the contribution of such creative greats to the social and cultural progress of humanity, UNESCO created World Book and Copyright Day.


Image of Aborignal art

Image by esther1721, Pixabay, CC0 1.0 Universal

By Eisha Farrukh

In 2014 Ken Wyatt, Australia’s first Indigenous member of the House of Representatives, urged the public to not ‘lose momentum’ in the push for constitutional recognition as the referendum date was and is constantly delayed, an acknowledgement long overdue for the original inhabitants of Australia. But there is a greater issue, even beyond the question of legal recognition, that the Indigenous communities face in preserving their culture. The Indigenous cultures of Australia, rich with 65,000 years of tradition, are faced with the threat of being lost and forgotten due to our increasingly globalised environment, promoting the process of assimilation and cultural integration. Luckily, 21st-century media platforms have enabled the preservation of practices that were previously passed down intergenerationally through the oral tradition from elders.