Library reminds staff of the importance of a book as the world celebrates World Book Day

Bongiwe Nyide

One of the messages that the University staff received this week was from the Library’s Deputy Director, Bongiwe Nyide. Nyide was informing her co-workers that the library was wishing them a ‘Happy World Book Day’. By implication, the library was reminding staff that the book was still the most important source of knowledge from which generations have been benefiting over the ages. The Acting Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Marcus Ramogale, in most of his addresses, remind staff of the importance of a book, and that it still made a lot of sense to spend money on books. The centrality of a book to modern life was emphasized in 1995, when the United Nations’ UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) created the World Book Day, which was celebrated on 23 April of that year. Nyide said the April 23 was chosen as the date for World Book Day because it is the anniversary of the birth, and death of William Shakespeare, the British writer, and Miguel de Cervantes, and Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, all of whom died on 23 April 1616.

Nyide said that the purpose of World Book Day was to promote reading, publishing, and copyright. “It aims to encourage people to discover the joy of reading, and to appreciate the role that books play in education and cultural development,” Nyide said.

Nyide said books remain important and relevant in today’s world despite the availability of other sources of knowledge such as the internet and digital media because books provide depth and detail, unlike other forms of media which limit in-depth exploration and analysis of topics due to the shorter versions of their nature, like articles, videos, and internet. “Books also encourage critical thinking and stimulate imagination and creativity. They allow the reader to visualize and experience worlds, characters, and ideas in a way that other media formats may not,” said Nyide.

According to Nyide, research also suggests that reading printed books improves memory and retention compared to reading digital texts, possibly due to the tactile experience and spatial orientation of physical books. Also, books are repositories of culture, history, and knowledge, preserving human experiences, stories, and wisdom for future generations. Nyide’s definition of a book includes an E-book.