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Rare books on display as part of Book Week 2010

[Linked Image] If you love reading and share an interest in Belizean history there's an exhibition showcasing Belizean authors and publishers at the Image Factory. The collection of writings from different literary genres some which go back a century or more are available for viewing among the three hundred select publications. News Five's Isani Cayetano was on hand for the opening of the exhibition and has the following report.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The display coincides with Book Week 2010 and, according to Montserrat Casademunt, despite the internet age more publications are being distributed through various media presently than there have been in the past.

Montserrat Casademunt, Publisher, Cubola Productions

[Linked Image] "There are more books published around the world now than in any time in history. So I don't think reading books is dying out. I think the medium is changing people is, there is more people reading on the internet or researching over the internet. To me it's difficult to replace a book because [with] a book all the senses intervene. You have the sense of the feeling, the smell, the sight; it is a wholesome experience and I think if children when they are very young, we all love books so if we can keep this interest going and this is the problem. If we can supply them with enough books to keep them interested I think even if they stop reading in a period in their lives they will come back to it eventually."

One such person who shares a rekindled love for the written word is Yasser Musa. Along with his colleagues at the Image Factory Foundation he embarked on gathering as many local works as possible to put on view.

[Linked Image] Yasser Musa, Publisher, Image Factory Foundation

"We decided, for the past few months, to start collecting books published in and about Belize and here we have today this exhibit of over three hundred books that come from three main collections. First, the Image Factory collection, our own collection of art books and things we've done over the past fifteen years in addition to our private collection of books but also two important other collections: the Cubola books which we have a fine collection of their books that they've been publishing since the early 1970s. And then finally we have the Craig family collection of books from Meg Craig who's been an outstanding collector of all things Belizean and especially books. She's inspired me to fall in love with books again and we have from her collection some very rare books."

Of those infrequent publications the oldest in the collection currently on display dates back to 1868. The rare books section focuses primarily on Belize's colonial past while other areas include novels written by renowned author Zee Edgell among others. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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A Brief History of Belizean Books

This is book week - and though the printed word is not as popular as it once was -- there are still many stories that can only be told on paper. And a special exhibition at the image factor has gathered all of them - or almost all.

Curator Yasser Musa and told us about the collection that is on display:

Yasser Musa, Curator, Image Factory,
"We've decided to gather as many books that have been published in Belize or about Belize. And to my surprise, we came up with almost 300 books so I am really happy to present to the public this exhibit of books."

Jules Vasquez, Reporting,
"How comprehensive or thorough is this? "

Yasser Musa,
"Well I think its fairly comprehensive because we've gotten books from 3 main collections. First, the Craig Family collection. As you know, Ms. Meg has been an instrumental person, especially in the area of culture and history and her book collection is phenomenal. As you can see in our rare books, 95 percent of those books belong to her family collection. Books mainly from the 1920's, 30's, 40's and a few from the 19th century, the 1880's and so. In addition to that, we decided to also focus on a publisher - Cubola Books - and we have most of their books on display as well. And finally we have a display of books that we here, at the Image Factory, have published in the area of culture and art, as well as books from independent publishers that we have in our collection. So I think that the combination of those three collections would give you a good sampling of whats been published in the past 120 years."

"Anytime you have an exhibit, you want to see what is the oldest book and I think it would be good to look at the 1888 book about San Pedro that we have. I think while this exhibition is a cause for celebration, we should also reflect on the great problems we have in the areas of reading and writing in this country."

Montserrat Casademunt of Cubola Books
"But I really think there is a future for the printed book in Belize because there is many of us would still prefer to sit down, to sit in a hammock and pick up a book and read and turn the pages. It's a more wholesome experience."

Jules Vasquez,
"This building is on fire. You cant leave with everything. Which book would you grab from this building and run out with?"

Montserrat Casademunt of Cubola Books
"Oh that's a very difficult question. I will find a young poet. Yes. This is the book I will take."

Those are the words from Montserrat Casademunt of Cubola Books which going for 38 years is Belize's longest established media house. She told us about the activities planned for book week:

Montserrat Casademunt of Cubola Books
"We have an opening tomorrow in Belmopan. At the George Price Center with a book exhibit. We managed to invite this year a few international publishers so we are calling it the First International Book Fair even if it is a very small book fair. I think it is a first step towards building a really good international book fair later on. In the afternoon, we have two panel discussions at UB - The Future of Books and Copyright. And then we move the event to Belize City for 2 days - Friday and Saturday. Anybody is invited to come to the Bliss. We'll have all kinds of activities from library activities to bring-one-take-one book exchange which will attract a lot of people because everybody has books they would like to change."

All public events at Book Week are open attendance.

Channel 7

Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400


April 21, 2010

An exhibit titled "Books Published in and About Belize" opened this morning at the Image Factory. As a part of Book Week activities more than three hundred books are on display as a way of celebrating books that have that Belizean touch. Organizer, Yasser Musa, tells us more.

Yasser Musa; Organizer, Books Published in and About Belize

"Many of the authors, yes, are Belizeans but many of them are not. We have categorized the books, over three hundred of them, into literature books, poetry, short stories, novels and also art books, catalogues, books about artists like George Gabb and Benjamin Nicholas and also book about history. In addition to that we focussed on two collection; the Craig family collection which Meg Craig is the leading proponent of and I believe she is a great asset to this country especially in the area of culture and history. Her collection of books is outstanding and we have almost a hundred books from her collection; most of them in the twenties and thirties and some from the late nineteenth century. That is in the rare books section. We are also featuring a publisher, Cobola Books, which comes from Benque Viejo Del Carmen and we have most of their books on display as well. When we add up the Image Factory Collection of Books, the Image Factory Collection of Books and the Meg Craig collection of books I think you can get a good picture as to what has happened in the past one hundred and thirty years in terms of books."

Among the many books on display are some that have been included in the primary and secondary school curriculum.

Yasser Musa

"I believe one of the iconic books; one of the most outstanding books that everybody knows is the Atlas of Belize. We have all used it and it has been published since 1976 if I am not mistaken. We have all used it in school so several generations of students have used that book. But also there are also many other books that are popular books that have been written by John Alexander Watler, books by female poets and Assad Shoman's Thirteen Chapters. I can go on and on but I think that because there are such a variety of books people can find something here either they remember reading or would say 'oh, I wish I could get a copy of that'."

Melinna Martinez, Reporter

If they do want to get a copy of the books they see here what can they do?

Yasser Musa

"Well, many of the books are still in circulation so people can still buy at Image Factory Book Store or Angelus or Brodies or wherever. But many are not so they would have to go the library; the Belize Library Service has an excellent collection of Belize books and so this might trigger people to say 'oh, I never read that book I can go there and borrow it'. I think that is the idea, to try and have Belizeans look at an exhibit like this and realize that we should celebrate books but we should also reflect on the crisis that we face in reading, the crisis we face in writing because if we do not do something to improve this situation we will lose yet another generation of people who do not like to read. That is not a route we can afford to take."

Musa says he hopes some of the books can be kept somewhere permanently so the discussion on the importance of reading does not end on Saturday when Book Week comes to a close.


Joined: Oct 1999
Posts: 84,400

2nd Annual Book Week

It is probably the least familiar and recognized association in the country of Belize, and that's partly because The Belize Book Industry Association was only officially registered less than a year ago. On Wednesday of this week, the association launched Book Week for the second time in its short history. The week features a series of events associated with books published both locally and internationally. The association is working hard at bringing attention to a once very vibrant industry which has fallen victim to the advent of television and the Internet. Today's presentation at the National Institute of Culture and History (NICH) featured both local and international publishing companies. I spoke with Otto Puc of Cubola Productions, one of Belize's largest publishing houses.

Otto Puc, Cubola Productions
"We felt that it is time for Belize to have its own celebration of books. The book industry in Belize is very important and we need to draw the eyes of the public to this. So this whole celebration started on Wednesday with an exhibition on books about and books published in Belize, which is still going on at the Image Factory Foundation in Belize City. They have an extensive collection of books that talks about Belize and books that have been published in Belize. You have to realize that Cubola Productions has been publishing books since 1973. We're perhaps one of the largest publishing companies here. So this is all part of celebrating that day."

Jim McFadzean, Reporting
"How has the presentation been received by the public?"

"We have a core group of people who are always interested in books. We are talking about the high schools, the teachers, many students as well. We had the same display at UB yesterday. It was really nice for students to come to the table and say 'I have heard about this book. I want to read this book.' That is very, very important for the book industry here in Belize. It is important for us to realize that books mean a lot to what we do on a daily basis. I mean not only read because it's required by school but read because there is something else attached to it. There is something that as a country we need to grow and continue to read books.

The exhibition runs until tomorrow, Saturday. The Association says it intends to sponsor a book fair annually in the hopes of reviving interest in the once popular past-time. Publishing companies from three other countries -- Jamaica, Guatemala and Mexico -- are participating in this year's Book Week.

Channel 7

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