Today is World Book Day, and this year, the celebrations will pay particular attention to author rights and translation.

For some, today is just another day. But dig a little deeper, and you will discover that 23rd April 2012 is a very special day.

You might not know it, but today marks St. George’s Day in England, the birth (and death) of William Shakespeare and many other famous authors such as Cervantes and Nabokov. It is for this reason that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) designates today as World Book Day, seeking to “promote reading, publishing and the protection of intellectual property through copyright.”

All around the world, authors, publishers, librarians, teachers, parents and children will take part in activities throughout the day to demonstrate their love of books. These activities will be coordinated by UNESCO National Commissions, UNESCO Clubs, Centres and Associations, Associated Schools and Libraries, but it is the support of book lovers across the globe that will determine the success of World Book Day 2012.

Translation is the first step towards the rapprochement of peoples, and is also a decentralising experience, teaching diversity and dialogue. Translation is one of the driving principles of our creative diversity, which enriches each language through contact with all the others.

(Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO)

This year’s World Book Day celebrations will pay particular attention to the theme of translation in respect of the Index Translationum’s 80th anniversary. The Index Translationum is an international bibliography of translated books, and amazingly, it is even older than UNESCO itself. Created in 1932, the translation database contains cumulative bibliographical information on books translated and published in about one hundred of the UNESCO Member States since 1979 and totals more than 2,000,000 entries in all disciplines: literature, social and human sciences, natural and exact sciences, art, history and so forth. You can search the online database here, and references registered before 1979 can be found in the printed editions of the Index Translationum, available in all National depository libraries and at the UNESCO library in Paris.

UNESCO will celebrate the anniversary of the Index Translationum by hosting a debate on its usefulness and its future, held today at UNESCO’s headquarters. In recognition of translation’s importance.