SANTO DOMINGO.- Culture Minister José Rafael Lantigua has expressed his approval for President Leonel Fernández’s decree that designated 2007 as the “Year of the Book and Reading”.
He also expressed his satisfaction at the creation of a National Commission for Promoting Books and Reading, which will be in charge of formulating policies aimed at developing programs, initiatives and projects with this purpose.
The Minister of Culture said that the president’s decision “should fill the Dominican cultural community with joy, especially writers, editors, booksellers and other literary professionals, because this is the first time that a government places the development of books and reading promotion at the center of their policies”.
“2007 will be a crucial year for consolidating reading promotion plans, and we hope to take firm and decisive action together with other institutions, in response to the president’s decision to develop programs that encourage reading among young people and adults” declared Lantigua.
Lantigua said that in this past year “we started the National Reading Promotion Campaign, which was launched with a special ceremony in Capotillo neighborhood (Santo Domingo), which has allowed us to train dozens of reading trainers across the country, a task that is being coordinated by writer Eleanor Grimaldi Silié”.
“In 2007 we expect to receive support from Spain to continue this reading campaign, and plans are afoot with the Madrid municipality of Fuenlabrada, to create “Toddler Libraries” (“Bebetecas”) for children between the ages of one and five, which is a way of encouraging toddlers to develop an interest in reading” said the Culture Minister.
He added that the government plans to build a large number of libraries, “which would be very practical, in all parts of the country, so that access to these centers becomes widespread, enabling people to read the basic works of Dominican and universal literature”.
“We have the support of highly-qualified foreign experts”, said Lantigua, who announced that he would be traveling to Colombia in mid-January to confirm these plans with the Colombian Ministry of Culture and the Regional Book Promotion Center (CERLALC).
“In fact, we’ve already applied for donations of entire libraries from Spain, from the main Spanish publishers, who are waiting for this major project to start before making their donations”, declared Lantigua.