Dublin City Librarian, Deirdre Ellis King’s speech at the 2008 Literary Award ceremony

Dublin City Librarian, Deirdre Ellis King’s speech at the 2008 Literary Award ceremony


[Alastair Smeaton] Libraries throughout the
world play a uniquely important role in this award and to outline the background to this
year’s awards please welcome Dublin City Librarian and President of the library association of
Ireland Deirdre Ellis-King [Deirdre Ellis-King ]My Lord Mayor, excellencies,
elected representatives, City Manager John Tierney, winner of the thirteenth annual IMPAC
Dublin literary award, Mr Rawi Hage; special guests, chairman of IMPAC Europe, Mr Miro
Pallas, distinguished guests and friends. Cities, in particular Dublin City where we
stand at this moment, are hotbeds of creative energy. They have a unique capacity to command;
indeed you might say demand an innovation of spirit, which translates onto the urban
landscape in diverse ways. In the case of Dublin this translation can be identified
by what seems to be a compelling instinct among many Dubliners to grapple creatively
with the power of the written word, and indeed the spoken word. It is an instinct which is
recognised in 2008 as far away as Santiago, Chile, South America where the May 18th issue
of El Mercurio, the national newspaper points to Dublin as a key literary destination, noting
such places as the James Joyce Centre and the Writers’ Museum. It also identifies such
writers of national and international renown as James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, WB Yeats, George
Bernard Shaw and Jonathan Swift. The names of these literary giants and others whom we
are all proud to call Dubliners are recalled in the names indeed identifying your table
placements this evening. But the literary impact of these writers is of global magnitude.
Their reputation internationally signalling a continuum of excellence linking the past
and the contemporary literary tradition of the city. Literature continues today to epitomise the
urban landscape of a city in which the written and spoken word is part of what we are as
a people. Indeed there are many here this evening who merit mention in the company of
those illustrious names of the past, and they will forgive me if I mention only one name,
that of Claire Hennessy, a young 21 year old Dublin writer whose first book was published
at the age of thirteen going on fourteen. Her eighth book is due shortly, and what an
inspiration she is to other young writers in Dublin and around the world. All Dubliners I believe are touched by words,
have views about the meaning of words, they feel the power of words, they recognise the
potential for words to influence and to affect change at both individual and society levels.
And perhaps following the same vein as that heralded by Ptolemy the first who created
the great library of Alexandria they see the value of libraries in effecting societal change
through of preservation of recorded knowledge for public access. And I might note particularly
in modern global context we Dubliners and people in other cities who we have touched
through involving them in nomination to the IMPAC Dublin award see the value in encouraging
access to the empowering tool of reading as a pathway to knowledge and above all to opportunity.
In that sense as we celebrate one very worthy winner we equally celebrate our own values
as people of a city in which literature permeates the very essence of the urban landscape where
it acts as a catalyst to stretch the boundaries of the creative mind. The IMPAC Dublin is part of an iconographic
muse, which makes Dublin a city of literature. The framework is one of creative energy, which
transcends borders of language and culture at global levels. In celebrating the enduring
magic of the written word the IMPAC Dublin plays a prestigious part in supporting continuity
of the creative energy process, through which Dublin, a city of literature acts as a proactive
agent to extend the boundaries of cultural excellence in an inclusive process. The process
is one of giving and receiving of sharing access to quality literature. Many Dubliners have assisted in the creation
of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. You Lord Mayor as patron of the award,
and your predecessors, among them member of the European Parliament Gay Mitchell, at his
instigation while Lord Mayor the process leading to the initiation of the award was embarked
upon. Other Lord Mayors and previous patrons present here this evening include Councillor
Maurice Ahearn, Councillor Michael Donnelly, Councillor Mary Frehill, Councillor Dermot
Lacey and Councillor Vincent Jackson. At executive level, City Manager John Tierney, Deputy Manager
Philip Maguire and others support the continued building of an award which crystallises at
local and international levels, Dublin’s literary tradition and moreover the continuing strength
of contemporary literary giants who stand side-by-side with such as Rawi Hage. The staff of the city public library system
who have administered the award processes since its conception merit special recognition.
For they have been instrumental in creating a unique local and global space for the award,
building on a synergy between libraries and literature which translates into a measure
of collaborative excellence without parallel at international level. The contribution of the award committee representative
of City Council and IMPAC must be noted. Unheralded they individually and collectively push the
boundaries of achievement and partnership each year. There are many who play a part
what I will mention in particular Cathy McKenna, Senior Librarian, Alan Breen, City Council
Press Officer and Sinead Matthews of IMPAC who efficiently and effectively keep the processes
moving behind the scenes. And of course the writers, the publishers, the expert judging
panels, to date involving over sixty distinguished people in the international literary world.
And I want to thank this year’s team and also of course the non-voting chair, senior judge
Eugene Sullivan. IMPAC have of course been critical to the award development and thank
you indeed to European Chairman Miro Pallas and the President Bob Jacobson, who is here
this evening as well, for their continued and sustained support for the Dublin Literary
Award over a period of thirteen years. It is however public libraries worldwide,
uniquely in a world literary context who have sustained the nomination processes of the
IMPAC Dublin since its inception. This has happened through a totally transparent process
of nominations, which crosses all boundaries of language, of geography, of cultural diversity.
The process provides a context for which capital and major cities regardless of the relative
state of economic or political development, within their own country or their own city,
or the scale or scope of their library services have been able to pursue the common objective
of bringing books and readers closer together. The 162 nominating public libraries in 45
countries and 122 cities signal by their existence and their actions the value which world communities
accord to libraries and literature. That value translates significantly into a unique force,
a global community of libraries which has a cumulative power to exercise change, to
influence and to enable continuing societal development. I do not underestimate, nor should anybody
the achievement undertaken by the Dublin City Library system in harnessing the unique strength
of that global library community in the interests of promoting world literature through the
IMPAC Dublin. Evidentially that force of participating libraries represents a winning combination
from which when coupled with an expert judging panel, this year’s worthy winning title and
author has emerged. Appropriately a representative of that global community of public libraries
Mademoiselle Annie Garden, Bibliothèque Municipale de Lyon joins us in celebration here this
evening and I now in conclusion ask her to come forward and on behalf of all nominating
libraries worldwide accept a citation which recognises their special contribution to the
2008 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Thank you

local_offerevent_note October 11, 2019

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