#AllezLiterature pays a social media tribute to World Book Day
For its third and latest phase, Europeana’s campaign dedicated to the written word is joining UNESCOS’s international celebration of World Book Day. From 23 April, #AllezLiterature is engaging social media users in a month long celebration of books and authors, with references to texts that have helped make Europe’s literary history.
The date of 23 April was chosen by UNESCO as a commemoration of the anniversary of the death of Cervantes and Shakespeare. Both stand as one of Europe’s best known authors, with their work having been been widely translated - William Shakespeare is still the fourth most translated author in the world. To join the tribute and draw attention to their work, we are taking part in World Book Day by sharing links to some of their writings available in various languages on Europeana. This initiative highlights the variety of resources and languages accessible on the platform but also the reach that some of these great works of literature have had through their many translations. Throughout the campaign, the hashtag #OnThisDay will also commemorate other authors, events and facts that have marked literature across Europe, linking to relevant content.
As well as books Europeana has numerous portraits of authors and digitised manuscripts, such as a first edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses, which was first published in its entirety in Paris. Some books are available to download as PDFs, for people to read on their tablets and we will be encouraging to the sharing of literary quotes and opening lines of novels, and challenging our users to take part in related quizzes.
Curating the content for this final phase dedicated to books has highlighted some challenges relating to textual content. Libraries were the earliest contributors to Europeana and the online arena, and are suffering now from legacy problems: what worked in 2008 does not come up to expectations with users nowadays. For instance, although text is broadly represented on the platform, most of the content is available as images rather than PDF, making it difficult for people to actually read these resources online. The campaign has highlighted the need to up the quality of library material so that it can be used more widely. Geographically, the input of the libraries is very wide, but it is not very cohesive, making pan European subject or themed campaigns very difficult. The licensing of material (sometimes under copyright), and uneven level of quality are also quite limiting for social media use. The positive is that we now know better what we need to do with our library partners to improve the use of their material online.
Our contribution to World Book Day builds on two previous phases dedicated to love letters and poetry, respectively celebrating Valentine’s Day (14 February 2017) and World Poetry Day (21 March 2017). Beside social media activity, Transcribathon events invited people to produce digital versions of selected documents. These Love Letter Run and WW1 Poetry Run were both a success, over 700 transcribers took part, and completed over 4,000 documents. And we have had some great participation from our Network that exposed more of the poetry in our collections. See our Storify on #AllezLiterature.