'Ljubljana, World Book Capital 2010' in Paris
On Monday, 19 April 2010, a presentation took place at UNESCO headquarters in Paris of 'Ljubljana, World Book Capital 2010'.
Participants in the presentation were initially addressed by UNESCO General Director Irina Bokova, who said that the evening was one that saw Ljubljana join the roll of honour of cities to have held this prestigious title, Madrid, Alexandria, New Delhi, Antwerp, Montreal, Turin, Bogota, Amsterdam and Beirut, and that its 2011 successor, Buenos Aires is already known. The honorary title awarded under the auspices of UNESCO, which is the United Nations cultural organisation, is granted by a jury of professional organizations: the International Publishers Association, the International Booksellers Federation and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions.
Bokova stressed that books connect the expression of the human spirit, and that it is necessary that in 2010, that the UN has proclaimed as the International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures, they should be used as an irreplaceable tool in the fight against prejudice, against mistrust between differing cultures and against ignorance and other barriers that divide humanity into opposing camps. She described Ljubljana as a place where the statue of the poet France Prešeren, author of Zdravljica, dominates the central square. She quoted in full the verse of God's blessing on all nations, remarking on the good fortune of a nation to have this as its anthem and that this could also be UNESCO's anthem, which drew enthusiastic applause from those present.
Slovenia's Ambassador to France and permanent representative at UNESCO Dr Janez Šumrada stepped in on behalf of the delegation from Slovenia, which was forced to cancel its participation at the event at the last minute due to air travel problems. He welcomed those present on behalf of the Mayor of Ljubljana Zoran Janković, other representatives of the City of Ljubljana and the Minister of Culture Majda Širca, as well as Slavoj Žižek and Branko Završan's musical group.
Dr Šumrada initially pointed out that the book is one of the fundamental pillars of Slovenian identity and that numbers and statistics from the Slovenian literary life transparently display the commitment of Slovenes to books. He said that Ljubljana is certainly the smallest of the cities that have ever worn the banner of the World Book Capital City, but it relies on the deep and widespread reading culture in Slovenia, which was also clearly shown in the preparation programme that was decisive in winning the title. He briefly outlined the projected programme of events that is to run throughout the year and distributed the programme handbook to the assembled representatives of the French and international diplomatic and intellectual community, who attended the event in large numbers.
Dr Šumrada also summarized the speech to have been given by the City of Ljubljana's Head of Culture Dr Uroš Grilc, whose contribution stressed that Ljubljana is determined to become a hospitable space where the literature of all cultures can meet.
“Ljubljana – World Book Capital is opening new spaces of reading culture and new spaces for reading, new libraries, a new house of literature, new reading parks and new public spaces designed to promote reading and books. In this we are not walking on safe well-trodden paths, but experimenting and playing with the ideas of the future of books, the future awareness of the importance of reading for each individual and with specific projects that books carry as a vehicle of societal development” Dr Šumrada summarised Dr Grilc and continued, that the fundamental challenge of Ljubljana, World Book Capital is the question of how the mission and role of UNESCO de jure and de facto is executed within the Ljubljana - World Book Capital programme.
“The answer that Ljubljana has found and that is achieved in the programme is based on the idea of cosmopolitanism and the related ethics of hospitality. The book itself is the bearer of cosmopolitanism and the book itself the ethic of hospitality. They are inseparable from each other. Therefore, new spaces, thus the need for new premises and new dimensions, because only through them can we hope to change the established practices and norms with which the field of books is marked, whether it is a creative, productive or reading aspect. The Ljubljana - World Book Capital programme is actually a single reflection of the new ideas of cosmopolitanism that are embodied by the book and it will in this year be experienced by Ljubljana and offered to the world. Being World Book Capital is an experience that will leave one indelible mark after another on Ljubljana. Upon them Ljubljana will build its openness, hospitality and cosmopolitanism. In the coming year Ljubljana will become a book metropolis”, as Dr Šumrada summarised the words of the Head of the City of Ljubljana's Department of Culture Dr Uroš Grilc.
Ljubljana, World Book Capital 2010 to be launched 23 April
The gala opening to mark Ljubljana's taking on the UNESCO title of 'World Book Capital' is to be on Friday 23 April 2010.
At noon in front of City Hall Mayor Zoran Janković and the President of the Republic of Slovenia as well as honorary patron of Ljubljana – World Book Capital Dr Danilo Türk will raise the flag of World Book Capital and Ljubljana will thus also be officially breathing in the spirit of the book.
At 3pm at Kinodvor there is a meeting with writer Boris Pahor, herald of Slovenian literature on the occasion of the publication of his book 'Bay/Reader', published by Cankarjeva založba.
At 6pm in the Kresija Gallery there is to be the opening of an exhibition of the illustrations of Župančič Laureate academic painter Jelka Reichman entitled "Illuminated Image."
The conclusion of the gala opening will be at 8pm in Križanke, where Matjaž Berger has prepared artistic productions entitled Tympan in diachrony: a tribute to the book, reading and fonts; a meeting of science, art and philosophy through the optics of the book.
On this day the Books for Everyone project will get underway, in which it will be possible to buy a great book for €3 in 217 outlets (in bookstores, libraries and cultural institutions) across Slovenia.
Until 23 April next year a full range of more than 500 events designed to encourage reading, develop reading culture, increase access to books, showcase literary genres and world literature will take place.
Further information on Ljubljana, World Book Capital is available at the project web page.