Monthly Archives: June 2010

Manchester Children’s Book Festival 2010

Manchester Children’s Book Festival 2010

As the book festival season settles across the UK, Manchester’s Children’s Book Festival is set to take place from 1st-4th July. Aside from book readings, children’s activities and a chance to meet authors, the festival is challenging as many people as possible to partake in their Readathon by only reading children’s books for the duration of the festival.

So if you’re anywhere near Manchester, be prepared for howls of despair as the populace reaches for their well-thumbed copies of  Harry Potter again, which is well documented as being  more akin to torture than literature. Shouldn’t festival organisers know better?

National Short Story Week 2010

National Short Story Week 2010

Tthe UK’s first national short story week will run from 22nd-28th November 2010, and aims to get more people reading and writing short stories up and down the country.

So come November make sure you join in the celebrations and help your associates revel in the, oft forgotten, but glorious wonders of the short form.

Oxfam Bookfest 2010

Oxfam Bookfest 2010

From 3rd-17th July Oxfam will be holding a bookfest across all its 700 stores in the UK, which will include a wide variety of book-related activities—from author events through to kids activity days, auctions and competitions.

So if you’re in the UK and need some respite from the hot British summer why not pop into your local Oxfam and engage your bookish and charitable nature.

International Literacy Day 2010

International Literacy Day 2010

Since 1966 the 8th September has been declared the UN’s official International Literacy Day, a day to celebrate and reflect on that all important  pre-cursor and consort to literature: literacy.

Although contemporary thought is redefining and evolving literacy to include and consider additional skills, it traditionally refers to  the ability to read and write and therefore acts as the all important gatekeeper to contemporary and formal education. While obviously a fundamental aspect of personal development, as the key enabler to complex communications and social interactions literacy is also a cornerstone to social empowerment, and is a critical cultural aspect of civilization and an inviolate facet of the Zeitgeist.

With 20% of the world’s adults being illiterate—and 2/3 of them being women—International Literacy Day serves to remind the literate lucky that we all have a part to play in socially empowering the world. So for this year why not put the date in your calendar and do something to make a difference. Make a donation. Share some writing, or read to someone you share the day with. And while the road to global literacy might be slow, it’s worth remembering it’s the one road that binds all humanity together and allows us to share our thoughts and make sense of the wilderness around us.

Cities Built On Books

Cities Built On Books

As part of UNESCO’s remit of shining a torch on the world’s cultural diversity, the Creative Cities Network programme is a regime of  collaboration between cities across the globe to communicate and promote their local and shared cultural experiences.

Although the programme caters for a variety of cultural categories, one of the most august categories is that for Cities of Literature, which is open to any city that ably demonstrates a commitment to literature through various facets, including: diverse publishing organisations and enterprises within the city; a focused educational programme on literature across all levels of education; hosting literary, drama and poetry events; and significant involvement in the publishing sector.

Currently 3 cities have been awarded the status of City of Literature, each for their broad but unique contributions to literature:

While not physically as sturdy as bricks, books undoubtedly make for deep intellectual foundations as evidenced by the great libraries of the ancient world, which begs the question whether UNESCO’s Cities of Literature will stand the test of time, or shortly fall to the barbaric onslaught of the digital horde?

Project Gutenberg: Raising Legal Literacy

Project Gutenberg: Raising Legal Literacy

For most of the world’s 2 billion Internet users illiteracy isn’t a daily concern; for 20% of the world’s adults it’s, quite simply, a way of life. This is why when Michael S Hart set-up the world’s first digital library, Project Gutenberg, in 1971, he felt providing free access to the world’s seminal literature was an important step on the road to universal literacy. The project took on the slogan to “Break Down the Bars of Ignorance and Illiteracy” and with over 30,000 books currently available its gone along way to giving more people  access to literature than ever before.

As a US-based organisation Project Gutenberg relies on US copyright laws, allowing books to be freely published once they enter the Public Domain, which, depending on a book’s publication date, can vary from 28 years after publication through to 70 years after the author’s death. Since laws are jurisdictional, for an Internet user it might or might not be legal to possess a book published by Project Gutenberg depending on the user’s local  copyright laws. Coupling jurisdictional copyright differences with the shifting demands of consumers, producers, and prosumers, and the world of digital copyright laws are evolving quicker than most  legislators can keep up with, making the legal status of each of Gutenberg’s books harder for readers to ascertain with the passage of time.

Therefore, even although Project Gutenberg contains the largest digital library of freely downloadable literature, the price of entry is no longer literacy but is now cross-jurisdictional legal literacy. So while Michael S Hart and his cohorts continue to grow their library and lower the bars of Ignorance and Illiteracy, they do so by making legal literacy, quite simply, a way of digital life.