Hooked on books… Books Council of Wales turns 60

The Books Council of Wales celebrates 60 years of supporting Wales’s publishing industry and celebrating reading with a week of activities from 1–5 November 2021.

From looking back to its origins as a charity set up to promote the Welsh publishing industry in 1961, to announcing its vision for the future with the launch of its new 5-year Strategic Plan, Wales: A Reading Nation, the Council will be exploring all aspects of the sector in Wales during a whole week of celebration.

The creative, vibrant and exciting world of publishing in Wales will be uncovered through an anniversary book, films of the publishing industry at work, celebrating excellence with the Mary Vaughan Jones Award and reminiscing about brilliant books, the Sbondonics reading club and 60 years of celebrating reading.

Helgard Krause, Chief Executive of the Books Council of Wales, said: “I am honoured and delighted to be leading this organisation during this milestone celebration, as we navigate the uncharted territory of Covid recovery and look forward to the next five years. These last 18 months have highlighted the immense contribution books make to our well-being and mental health. A published book is always the result of the creative collaboration of the many different people who make up the sector, which includes booksellers, and we will continue to support the industry here in Wales to ensure that the many stories that reflect our country will continue to be told.”

A full week of activity is planned . . .


Monday 1 November – Happy Birthday!

Launch of 60th anniversary book – Two Rivers from a Common Spring
The week begins with the publication of a brand-new volume of essays to celebrate the anniversary. Two Rivers from a Common Spring tells the story of the Books Council, from its foundation in the 1960s to today. Edited by Gwen Davies and with brand-new illustrations by printmaker Molly Brown, the book charts the legacy and work of the Council through contributions by Professor M. Wynn Thomas and other figures from the sector. A companion volume, O Hedyn i Ddalen, is available in Welsh.


Tuesday 2 November – Celebrating excellence

Menna Lloyd Williams wins the Mary Vaughan Jones Award
Menna Lloyd Williams is the recipient of the 2021 Mary Vaughan Jones Lifetime Achievement Award. A digital event to celebrate Menna Lloyd Williams’ contribution to the field of children’s books in Wales will be held on the Books Council’s channel #carudarllen AM amam.cymru/carudarllen at 7pm on Tuesday, 2 November as part of the week’s celebrations.


Wednesday 3 November – looking to the future

Wales: A Reading Nation. Launching the Books Council of Wales’s 5-year Strategic Plan
For 60 years the Books Council of Wales has advanced its purpose to support the publishing industry in Wales and to promote reading for pleasure.

As it publishes its new strategy the Council sets out its ambitions and vision for the next 5 years. It outlines how it will progress with its mission to support the publishing industry and promote reading in the context of a Covid recovery, contributing to Welsh Government’s Programme for Government and Well-being Statement, and supporting the industry to respond to the opportunities and challenges of the future.


Thursday 4 November – a nostalgic look back

Celebrating 60 years of books, stories – and Sbondonics!
The Books Council team will browse the archive and share images and memories of the last 60 years on their social accounts @Books_Wales (Twitter) and Llyfr Da / Fab Books (Facebook / Instagram). From the Distribution Centre vans to former Tir na n-Og Award winners and the Sbondonics Book Club, they’ll share fond memories of the Books Council’s activity over the last 60 years.


Friday 5 November – the industry at work

Our Story – publishing voices today
The week ends with the sharing of two short films (10 mins) that have been commissioned especially for the anniversary: Our Story – publishing voices today and Ein Stori – lleisiau cyhoeddi heddiw. They are a showcase for the publishing industry and the world of books in Wales. Through the voices of Lynda Tunnicliffe, Jannat Ahmed, Alex Wharton and others, the films explore the role and contribution of the Books Council to the field of publishing in Wales and its ongoing support as this important creative industry looks towards the future.