More Readers Expected to Visit National Book Festival

Art & Culture
2023-05-18 10:32:00

Ulaanbaatar, May 17, 2023 /MONTSAME/. The long-awaited National Book Festival, organized by the "Nomiin Soyolt Yertonts" NGO under the auspices of the Chairman of the State Great Khural is around the corner. The 33rd festival is scheduled to be held on the 19th of May in Gobisumber, on the 21st in Dornogobi, and from the 26th to the 28th of May in Ulaanbaatar. MONTSAME, Mongolian National News Agency interviewed B. Suvd, the initiator of the book festival and the head of the "Nomiin Soyolt Yertonts.” NGO


What is the theme of this year’s National Book Festival and how well have you prepared?


Since 2019, the National Book Festival has been celebrated under the auspices of the Speaker of the State Great Khural. In previous years, we encouraged people to “Let’s read daily”, “Let’s read five pages a day”, and “Let’s read more”. This time, instead of changing the theme, we decided to reuse "Let's read more" to establish reading habits. The preparations for the festival began in February, contacting foreign countries and seeking cooperation.


The significance of the Book Festival appears to be increasing each year. What can you say about this?


The Book Festival encompasses more than just book purchases; it involves multifaceted cooperation. During the festival, the results of readers’ survey conducted in 2011 will be announced, enabling readers to compare the content of books they were reading 12 years ago. This will provide librarians and professionals with insights into changing reading trends and content.


Since last year's Book Festival, we have compiled a list of 50 inspirational books for women, as 63 percent of festival visitors are women, according to a study. Additionally, a list of 50 children's books will be announced. In collaboration with the School of Culture of the Mongolian National University of Arts and Culture, we conducted a survey and shared it with the Department of Sociology and Social Work of MSU for analyzing the data and drawing professional conclusions. We have also studied the age, gender, education, and purchasing habits of the attendees. The majority, 75.4 percent, are young people aged 15-35, with 49.6 percent being elementary school students. A crucial aspect of this event is to address children's inquiries about their future aspirations, as they tend to acquire knowledge from books. The activities we are conducting today will have a lasting impact on the reading habits and preparation of readers in the coming 5 to 10 years. Consequently, we anticipate the number of attendees, currently at 180,000, to increase to 200,000 to 500,000.


I have heard of the unique aspect of opening ceremony of this year's book festival. Could you elaborate on this?


This year, the book festival is commencing with a distinctive feature. Our plan is to initiate the festival in rural areas, specifically in the Gobi provinces. Thus, on the 19th of this month, during the blooming period of the Mongolian Sakura trees under the theme “Let’s read more”, the Borjigon Music and Dance Ensemble will inaugurate the Book Festival at the Central Library in Gobisumber Aimag. Subsequently, on May 21, the Book Festival will continue in the central square of Sainshand, Dornogobi Aimag. This year holds significance as it marks the 220th anniversary of the birth of D. Danzanravjaa, Gobi Noyon Khutagt. This commemoration adds a joyful atmosphere to the book festival, emphasizing the remarkable story of a man who, at the age of six, astonished the local community by reciting a philosophical poem titled "Khurmast Tenger" at a nobleman's gathering. For the authors and publishers participating in the book festival tour to Sainshand, this serves as an inspiration, providing them with beautiful narratives to contemplate and significant ideas to incorporate into their works.


Following these events, a collaborative program will be held at Sukhbaatar Square in Ulaanbaatar from the 26th to the 28th of this month. We are diligently working to offer a multitude of captivating programs to our readers. Among these, we have BookCon, book fan meetings, book networking, "Change my mind" sessions, quizzes, reader-author meeting, fireside chats, "Read to Win" and "Khavriin Nairag" activities, the "Delhii" band performance, shows by the "Book World" club students, and many other engaging events. We also anticipate considerable interest in our book festival survey, the books we will be highlighting, the informative guide section, and our children's organization. Additionally, students from rural book clubs will join the festival and volunteer for organizational tasks. The festival's duration will be extended by one hour, continuing until 8 pm.


On June 3rd, we will conclude the primary activities of this spring book festival by working in Mandalgobi, Dundgobi Aimag, known as a home to a significant number of singers and poets. At that point, we will begin preparations for the autumn festival.


How many publishing companies, publishers, and authors will participate in this year's book festival?


Over 300 writers and publishers will be participating in the book festival. Notably, there has been a consistent rise in the number of new publishers over the past three years. Guests from over 10 foreign countries will be expected at the festival. 


How is the progress in the pursuit of the goal of becoming the "Book Capital of the World" since 2011?


When setting a goal, it is important to approach it methodically and gradually. The first criterion for attaining the esteemed title of "Book Capital of the World" is a strong emphasis on reading. To achieve this, we are promoting good reading and book lovers who are avid readers and exemplify reading habits. Looking back at the history of the Book Festival, the "Book World" magazine and program, we have witnessed a remarkable increase in public participation and viewership since their inception. This success signifies the growing recognition that books hold a vital position within society and deserve utmost attention.


Could you outline the outcomes and vision of the Book Festival, what aspects would you emphasize?


Reading proficiency profoundly shapes a nation's capabilities. Hence, it is crucial to assess the progress made in developing a society with a solid foundation in reading. The efforts we dedicate today are geared towards shaping the future. Presently, it is not possible to ascertain the immediate outcome or provide a definitive answer. However, by observing how social dynamics transform over the course of 10 or 20 years, we can determine the impact and significance of reading.