National Central Library establishes ‘Taiwan Corner” in Greece’s Athens Municipal Libraries: Taiwan’s beauty shines in the foundation of democracy.
Director-General Shu-hsien Tseng of the National Central Library (NCL) represented the NCL in launching the first international ‘Taiwan Corner’ in Greece, Athens on August 30, 2019. Dr. Tseng graced the book donation ceremony, held at the Central Library of the Municipality of Athens, when the Library’s Director Vasiliki Lambri and the Children’s Library’s Representative Roxani Kargakoy accepted the donations on behalf of the Athens Municipal Libraries system. The Taipei Representative Office in Greece rendered valuable assistance to the ‘Taiwan Corner’ project, while Director Lambri’s strong support made it possible for the establishment of ‘Taiwan Corners’ in both the Athens Municipal Libraries’ Central Library and the Athens Children’s Library. It is hoped that the ‘Taiwan Corners’ will bring additional access to high quality books and picture books by Taiwanese publishers, to enrich the rich cultural tapestry of Athens – long a symbol of democracy – particularly in cultivating Chinese reading ability and greater interest in learning about Taiwan.
For years, the National Central Library (NCL) has dedicated itself to expand international cooperation and exchanges, which entails both building collaborative relationships with other countries to advance the field of librarianship, as well as supplying academic resources to promote the field of Chinese studies internationally. Since 2012, the NCL has launched 31 international ‘Taiwan Resource Centers for Chinese Studies’ (TRCCS) with leading international universities and research institutions. In addition to the TRCCS, the NCL has created a new brand named ‘Taiwan Corner’ specifically to advance international awareness of Chinese language and Taiwan’s culture and society for more general readers. The NCL plans to work with leading international libraries to establish ‘Taiwan Corner’ therein, and continuously make new donations of quality books, Children’s picture books, and Chinese language learning guides each year. By doing so, the NCL wishes to use the Taiwan Corners to cultivate good reading habits in the world’s next generation, stimulate international readers’ interest in learning the Chinese language and improve their Chinese reading ability, as well as raising their understanding of Taiwan.
The city of Athens is known across the world as a cradle of the Western civilization and the birthplace of democracy. Athens’ accomplishment in promoting a book culture and love of reading is well recognized internationally, which is why it was named by UNESCO as the World Book Capital of the year in 2018. During its tenure as the World Book Capital, Athens had hosted many activities in the fields of books, reading, publishing and related areas. Among these were face-to-face meetings with authors, translators and illustrators, as well as concerts, themed exhibitions, poetry readings and workshops for publishing professionals, all of which were clear testaments to Athens’ status as a global center of books. No doubt the Athens Municipal Libraries, with its six branch libraries, played an instrumental role in laying the foundation for this vibrant book culture.
For this round, the NCL is donating a carefully-chosen set of children’s picture books and general interest books by Taiwanese publishers, available in either Chinese or in Chinese-English bilingual formats. They include Taiwanese authors’ original works of literature, works by numerous internationally-renowned leading Taiwanese children’s authors and illustrators, as well as meticulously edited Chinese language learning guides. They cover a wide range of topics, including: humanities and the arts, parent-child relationship, popular science, Chinese learning, and introduction to Taiwan’s rich culture and history. The NCL trusts that these material will enrich the ‘Taiwan Corners’ collections, and contribute to Athen’s rich and diverse reading and educational environment.
During the ‘Taiwan Corners’ official launch and book donation ceremony, the National Central Library’s Director-General Shu-hsien Tseng emphasized in her speech the importance of cultivating Chinese learning by engaging readers at the daily level, and she reiterated that learning about Taiwan can be an important gateway to improving Chinese reading ability. Dr. Tseng extends her warm wish for building ever-stronger relationship between the NCL and the Athens Municipal Libraries in the future, and hope that the two can work together to inspire Athenian readers and especially children to develop interest in Chinese and learn more about Taiwan. The establishment of ‘Taiwan Corner’ not only facilitates cross-cultural exchanges, but is also an important international window through which even more international friends can bear witness to Taiwan’s quality publishing and learn more about the rich cultural diversity of Taiwan.