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Invigningstal av Amanda Lind på Bokmässan 2019

Publicerad

Stockholm, 26 september 2019. Det talade ordet gäller.

"Ladies and gentlemen, dear librarians, authors and readers, dear friends,

It’s exciting to be here at the Göteborg Book Fair. A book is one of the strongest symbols of freedom of expression. No matter what we think of a book, we must always protect and safeguard everyone’s right to express it.

I look very much forward to exploring the main theme of Korean literature. I know that there are relatively few translations of Korean literature to Swedish. But that means that there is a treasure trove to explore for me and all other visitors. And what better way is there to find knowledge, inspiration and new views than to read a book? And what better place to find books, than here on the book fair?
The act of reading, and the act of writing are two of our most prominent expressions of culture. The very transition of ideas from one person’s mind into writing, and the process of reading, are in many ways what defines us. It defines our never-ending quest for knowledge, new perspectives or simply pleasure.

A few weeks ago, the Swedish media council published its latest report on children and media consumption. For any lover of books and literature – or frankly, for every citizen – it’s chilling to read. The trend over the last decade is a steady decrease in reading patterns for children of all ages. Adults are reading less to children and the children themselves are reading less once they reach school age. We in the Swedish government are strongly committed to changing this trend. To make books and literature available, accessible and encourage children and young persons to read. My belief is that you miss something essential about being a human if you never get to experience this.

Libraries are sanctuaries, an open space for all, providing access to literature and information. In a library everyone, regardless of who you are, can search for knowledge and experience culture. The possibility to take part in society, to search for information and the freedom of opinion are cornerstones in democracy. It’s also the cornerstone of what libraries do. In a world where we are almost always expected to be consumers, any space that allows us to be just humans can’t be underestimated.

Digitization has completely changed the conditions for communication, for reading and writing. This involves revolutionary social changes that have consequences for how democracy works. It is more important than ever before to safeguard the public debate and the spread of fact-based information. We all have a shared responsibility to do that. Media and information literacy is one of the main themes of the book fair, and a priority for the government. I want to emphasize that everyone – irrespective of age – needs to be equipped with digital skills and media and information literacy.

Freedom of expression is at the core of Swedish cultural policy. Culture should be a dynamic, challenging and independent force based on freedom of expression. A diversity of voices is needed – to pose new questions and to come up with new solutions. A free and vibrant cultural life is a prerequisite for a sustainable democracy - and vice versa.
We should never forget to appreciate the joy that lies in the ability to read and write. And never forget the power that lies in the written and spoken word. The responsibility for the freedom of these words is ours.

The Guest of Honour Korea has prepared handmade paper flowers made by traditional Korean Paper to celebrate this opening ceremony. I think many people in the audience have this paper flower in their hands, so let’s fly them together, after I declare the Book Fair opened.

I hereby declare the 2019 Göteborg Book Fair is open!