• Issue: June 1972
  • Designer: M. Pereg
  • Plate no.: 357
  • Method of printing: Photogravure

An idea planted by Israel burgeoned and bore fruit. The Israel delegation to the Asian Publishers Conference, convened by Unesco in Tokyo in 1966, submitted to the Conference several proposals for the improvement and development of the publishing industry. Among them a suggestion that Unesco - the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture - proclaim an International Book Year. Publishers in other regions arrived at similar conclusions, and, in 1970 at the 16th session of the General Conference of Unesco, the 126 Member-States of the Organization unanimously proclaimed 1972 International Book Year "... considering the importance of the written word for the progress of human civilization ... " and in order (primarily) "to initiate and carry out programs of activities designed to promote the writing, production, circulation and distribution of books and to make the International Book Year a national reading year"; "to encourage an appreciation, particularly among young people, of the best in thought, philosophy and literature by making books generally and cheaply available."

For thousands of years the written word guaranteed the preservation and dissemination of knowledge. Today the book is still the most dependable and the most convenient instrument of communication ever devised by man. The need for reading in order to advance in any way nowadays is so great as to be incalculable. Yet - while the technical revolution in the past quarter of a century made it possible to place on the market an ever increasing number of relatively inexpensive good quality books to an extent previously unknown - the developing countries are suffering from a scarcity of books. The "book famine" is becoming more acute just when opportunities for education are becoming easier to attain, when developing countries are preparing the way for the absorption of ever increasing numbers of pupils in educational frameworks, themselves more numerous and varied than ever before. Of all the books in the world, 80% are produced in 30 countries whose inhabitants comprise only a third of the world population. Even in countries with a thriving publishing industry, the book has by no means as yet become an integral part of everyone's life.

The idea of the IBY took shape, and preparations for putting it into effect began immediately after the official proclamation designating 1972 as International Book Year. Even before the IBY actually started, an important international result was achieved: the main international bodies dealing with books unanimously adopted in October 1971, the "Charter of the Book." It has ten articles: Everyone has the right to read; Books are essential to education; Society has a special obligation to establish the conditions in which authors can exercise their creative role; A sound publishing industry is essential to national development; Book manufacturing facilities are necessary to the development of publishing; Booksellers provide a fundamental service as a link between publishers and the reading public; Libraries are national resources for the transfer of information and knowledge, for the enjoyment of wisdom and beauty; Documentation serves books by preserving and making available essential background material; The free flow of books between countries is an essential supplement to national supplies and promotes international understanding; Books serve international understanding and peaceful co-operation.

Israel, with its age-long book tradition, prepared a comprehensive program for the IBY. The Israel National Commission for Unesco set up a public committee, under the patronage of the President of Israel, "The Israel National Committee for the IBY." The Committee's plans embrace all fields connected with the printed word: education, publishing, librarianship, printing, the manufacture of books and their distribution, and others.

One achievement deserves to be mentioned: the progress made in 1972 toward the enactment by the Knesset of the Public Libraries Bill. This proposed Bill was approved by the Government before the beginning of 1972, submitted to the Knesset by the Minister of Education and Culture in January 1972, where it received its first reading and was passed to the Education and Culture Committee for discussion and preparation for its second and third reading. The proposed Bill makes each local authority responsible for the establishment and maintenance of a public library, to be supervised and assisted by the State.

Above all the IBY must be a national effort, within each country, aimed at mobilizing energies and resources. At the same time it must also be a movement of international co-operation and mutual assistance among the countries of the world.

As the "People of the Book" Israel strives for achievements for itself and hopes to help others reach the aims they set for themselves.

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International Book Year