19 April 2022

Get involved with World Book Night 2022

Steve Donoghue, PCS Wales Regional Learning Services Officer, says World Book Night on Saturday (23) is an ideal opportunity for learning reps to get a stock of books that will help promote reading in the workplace and learning in general and explains how members can get involved

On 23April, we are celebrating the 11th annual World Book Night (WBN).

Although originally held on 5 March, the event was moved to 23 April to coincide with the UNESCO International Day of the Book and, probably the birth and death date of William Shakespeare. From a trade union perspective WBN is an ideal opportunity for learning reps to get a stock of books that will help promote reading in the workplace and learning in general.

Applications for WBN are made around the end of January, and if successful, applicants get a supply of one of the books selected that year. This can be anything from 60 to 500 copies depending on the book, and the type of events that you are planning. Hosting a book event is also an ideal organising opportunity to recruit new members as the everything we do as ULR’s should be open to all staff.

As the Welsh Union Learning Fund project officer I have been lucky enough to be successful on most occasions, and books have been shared with ULRs and made available to staff in workplaces across Wales. In recent years we have had copies of H G Wells’ War of the Worlds, Reasons to be Cheerful by Nina Stibbe and a compilation of short stories, created especially for WBN called Stories to make you smile. Books that we have left over we share with local schools, charities and foodbanks. This has been especially useful during the pandemic where workplaces have been closed or inaccessible.

For 2022, we have been awarded 500 copies of Graham Norton’s The Swimmer. This is one of the Quick Reads series of books, issued by the Reading Agency, which encourages people back into reading by making books that are shorter than normal. This year as well as making copies available to ULRs we will be sharing them with a Llanelli-based mental health charity, and holding a book event to support a local loneliness and isolation project in the community.

My own experience with Quick Reads goes back to the first year they were produced (2006). As the ULR for HMRC West Wales I applied online for free resources to support the campaign, and one of the questions was ‘how many people work in your organisation’. This wasn’t long after the Inland Revenue and HM Customs and Excise had merged, and the figure 94,000 had stuck in my head so I duly it.

A few weeks later I had a call from our branch secretary asking what was going on? Two pallets had been delivered to our office in Swansea, with 94,000 book tokens, dozens of mugs, hundreds of pens and bookmarks and loads of posters, leaflets and bookstands. Suffice to say I learned to be more careful when ordering freebies in the future.

I hope you all enjoy your reading. Details of how to get involved and events taking place are available on the WBN website or contact your local union learning rep, whose details you can find on PCS Digital.