Oxford World Book Capital 2014

Hello again Oxford World Bookers, sorry for such a long absence – holidays and work experience following that have meant no time whatsoever to devote to the blog – but I’m pleased to say I’m back again and ready to do some last-minute posts on why Oxford deserves to win before UNESCO’s decision in early July. Although I have mentioned some of Oxford’s 2014 iniatives here and there in previous posts, I thought a roundup would be helpful as we approach the deadline – the proposal composed by the steering committee behind the bid is 39 pages after all! – so here goes:

  • Extensive work into the area of translation, employing 21st century digitisation to further develop and push the boundaries of foreign fiction. This will be furthered by bringing awards such as the Independent Foreign Fiction Award to Oxford, drawing on the city’s profile as a truly international centre of learning: home to the oldest university in the English-speaking world, it has been spreading knowledge across the globe for over eight centuries
  • Bringing other such high-profile literary awards to the city, the Carnegie Medal and The Kate Greenaway Medal to name just two examples
  • The opening of The Story Museum, which will combine innovative exhibitions, performances and a wide range of creative activities to bring children’s stories to life. Already a charity since 2003, the Story Museum have been working with schools,  parents, artists, educational and arts professionals and policy-makers for almost a decade to promote the joy of reading through programmes, workshops and events. In 2014, for the first time ever, there will be a permanent space devoted to the cause – a very exciting addition to the city for adults and children alike! Check out guest blogger Siobhán’s ‘Night at the Story Museum’ for more information: https://oxfordworldbookcapital.wordpress.com/2012/02/04/a-night-at-the-story-museum/
  • The opening of the new Bodleian wing, to be named The Weston Library, which will be devoted primarily to the library’s extensive Special Collections, and will allow greater public access to countless literary treasures. The Bodleian Library is one of our greatest assets – not only within Oxford but within the whole of the UK – but with so much of its colossal stock hidden away beneath the city grounds, this expansion will be a an extremely welcome and worthwhile addition for both the library and the public. My previous post on the Bodleian may whet your appetite! https://oxfordworldbookcapital.wordpress.com/2012/01/06/the-bodleian-continued/
  • The opening of the Oxford Centre for Islamic studies, which will have capacity for up to 60,000 volumes and be a valuable resource for all those with research and academic interests in Muslim societies and civilization – again reinforcing the multicultural importance of a city in which almost 20% of the population were born overseas
  • The implementing of a wide variety of programmes and events to spread the magic of reading and promote literacy throughout the population – particularly reluctant teenagers, adults and minority groups. This year-long chain of events will include book give-aways, pub quizzes, walking tours, treasure hunts and stories told through film, music, visual art, carnival and dance. There will also be a world-class plethora of international conferences and debates to address current and future issues in publishing and the creation of an interactive mobile phone literary map to celebrate the lives of Oxford’s most famous authors. Freedom of expression is another facet to the bid, which will raise awareness of the many Oxford and UK organizations which champion freedom of expression and international development
  • The celebrating of special events such as Shakespeare’s 450th anniversary on World Book Day, 23rd April 2014 – Oxford being just one hour from the great playwright’s birthplace in Stratford-upon-Avon, existing links with the Royal Shakespeare Company will be fostered whilst Creation Theatre Company plans to construct a mobile ‘Globe Theatre’ which will produce a repertoire of his plays. The creation of the Oxford University’s first World War Poetry digital archive will mark yet another special event – the centenary of 1914’s World War 1 – and make available one of the most important collections of war poetry by authors such as Wilfred Owen and Edward Thomas in memory of a horrific battle that saw the loss of 9 million lives

Of course, as well as all the above, the publicity, tourist trade and new opportunities for publishers resulting from winning the bid would be invaluable – especially in these difficult times in which digital threats and the tough economic climate are forcing many bookstores to close. Oxford has both bookshops and publishers in huge quantities so, particularly for us, this would be of great importance. The bid – written by Oxford University Press, Blackwell’s, the Bodleian  Libraries, The Story Museum, Oxford Literary Festival, the University of Oxford, Oxford Brookes University, Oxfam, Oxford City Council, Oxfordshire County Council and Oxford Inspires and backed by Oxford authors Colin Dexter and Philip Pullman – was composed after more than 18 months of research into factors such as these and its writers are hoping that their glittering array of proposals will impress the judges. Fingers crossed!

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