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Oxford bids for UNESCO World Book Capital

Oxford will submit its formal bid to become UNESCO World Book Capital in 2014 this week. Oxford’s bid for the prestigious designation, themed Imagination Unbound, celebrates the wonder of books, their ability to inspire and unlock our imaginations, and aims to generate a love of reading that can be shared by everyone. The nomination has never previously been held by an English speaking city.

World Book Capital is an annual title bestowed by UNESCO to a city in recognition of the outstanding quality of its programs and initiatives to promote books and reading.

In endorsing the bid, Professor W John Morgan, Chairman of the UK National Commission for UNESCO said,

Oxford is an inspirational city and the theme of the bid, 'Imagination Unbound', reflects the depth and diversity of the programme that is proposed and the opportunity it offers to bring both the city’s heritage and literature in general to a wider public audience.  The bid’s impressive programme of activities focuses not only on Oxford’s rich history in literature and learning, but also on the contemporary challenges the city faces in tackling illiteracy and marginalisation of some of its population.”

The United Kingdom was one of the original supporters of the UNESCO resolution establishing World Book Capital as an annual designation.

In 2014, Oxford will demonstrate how the book is essential in the global communication of ideas and knowledge and in the city’s own links worldwide. Oxford’s name is closely associated with the global use of English as a constantly evolving universal language of business, science and education. With a centuries-old tradition of learning and publishing, Oxford remains a hub for curious and creative people from all over the world.

Kathelene Weiss, Director of Oxford Inspires, which is coordinating the bid on behalf of a steering committee of eleven local organisations says,

We believe that Oxford should become UNESCO World Book Capital in 2014 because the entire bid is about creating a lasting legacy for Oxford and Oxfordshire. The programme for the year will support literacy initiatives with schools and families to promote a love of reading, make the most of the positive impact that the opening of the Story Museum and New Bodleian Library will have on the local community, and encourage investigation into the future of the publishing trade - which is especially relevant considering just how many publishers are based in the county.”

To celebrate the submission of Oxford’s bid, the steering committee took part in World Book Night, a nationwide event designed to spread a love of reading and books. Held annually, the celebration sees tens of thousands of people go out into their communities to hand out free copies of books.

Over the course of the year, a full programme of events will take place aimed at encouraging both residents and tourists to discover the pleasures of opening up a book and reading in any form. These include plans for conferences, festivals, plays, writing competitions and much more.

Click here to visit the official bid website.

Written: 26/04/2012 , last modified: 26/04/2012

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