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  • How Bookbird Spread Its Wings—a Short History of the Periodical 1962-1993
  • Lucia Binder

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Just as the periodical serves as a common forum, it also grew out of the common work. The somewhat poetical name—Bookbird—was given by Jella Lepman to the little mimeographed information sheet that was published at irregular intervals following her foundation of the International Youth Library. Unfortunately, this first little "Book-Bird" was to die shortly after.

However, after the congress in Hamburg in 1962 extended the sphere of IBBY's work and made increased mutual information necessary. Richard Bamberger, the President at that time, published information on the International Board on Books for Young People—an eight-page brochure which included a minimal report on the congress, the resolutions, and the further work program. This brochure was printed first only in mimeographed form. Experience with this brochure showed that regular exchange of information was welcomed and that it would be necessary to print this material in a larger edition. So Dr. Bamberger decided to make an attempt at an international information leaflet. As Austria's contribution to the international work, he had received financial support from the Austrian Government, which made it possible for him to take these first steps.

Jella Lepman, who warmly supported this plan, then acted as "godmother." The new booklet, at first consisting of eight pages, was named Bookbird in her honor. It became a regular distributed quarterly from 1962. However, the little leaflet was soon to spread its wings, and take its first plunge from the nest.

The eight pages had limited the periodical's contents to the most important news and reports concerning IBBY. This soon proved to be too little, since for such a quickly growing organization, an exchange of experiences among the various countries had to take place more often than merely every two years, when the reports of the National Sections were delivered at the congresses. It became even [End Page 80] more important as so many new sections joined IBBY, and the President's circular letters could only report briefly on the most important events. With the expansion to sixteen then thirty-two—later sixty-four—pages, it was finally possible to organize the contents of the periodical in such a way that the original intention was approached: Bookbird was to mirror international children's book work.

The general planning for Bookbird included the following areas:

  • • Information on the work of the International Board on Books for Young People,

  • • General essays on the reading of children and on problems of literary education,

  • • Surveys of the international development of children's literature and of activities in the field,

  • • Introduction of writers and illustrators of books for young illustrators,

  • • Presentation of the children's books work of one specific country,

  • • Topical contributions: short reports and suggestions and international news. (These contributions provide a glimpse of juvenile book work in many countries.),

  • • Professional literature on children's books: reviews of technical writings on children's books—including books, current children's book reviewing media, and articles in various periodicals,

  • • Annotated lists of prize-winning books and outstanding children's books from all parts of the world, and special recommendations for translations,

  • • International forum, focusing on particular problems or especially interesting books, such as books on a certain theme or different editions or translations of one book.

In 1969, Bookbird was once again expanded, now to eighty pages, which permitted the extension of the contents to also include detailed information on illustration of children's books. Working together with the BIB (Biennale of Illustrations in Bratislava) and its General Secretary, Dušan Roll, made it possible to print more illustrations than before.

The editorial offices were in Vienna at the International Institute for Children's Literature, where I was entrusted with the main editorial work. Richard Bamberger and Jella Lepman officially represented IBBY. After their retirement, the current IBBY presidents took over this responsibility. In order to guarantee the active participation of the individual national sections in the publication, Bookbird correspondents were appointed.

Aiming at not losing sight of the primary principle of Bookbird—promotion of co-operation—regular attempts...


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pp. 80-81
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