"The World Book Day Online Festival has made a colossal impact in its short life to date. The number of people taking part in and enjoying literature events through new technology is phenomenal. I hope that the Arts Councilís substantial support over the past two years will encourage the commercial sector and other funders to pick up the baton and make this a long term, landscape shifting initiative."

Gary McKeone
Director of Literature
Arts Council England

"I am thrilled by the success of the World Book Day Online Festival. It harnesses the new technology of computers and the internet to help make children and adults understand the joys of reading books in a creative and dynamic way."

David Young
Chair, World Book Day 2004
and Chair, Time Warner Books

"Sue Stewart of Write2B has done a superb job for us on developing and managing the World Book Day Online Festival. This is a complex, demanding project with excruciating timescales and needing a range of skills including partnership building and creative programming. Sue has all these skills, and more."

Miranda McKearney
Director
The Reading Agency

World Book Day Online Festivals

This project involved management, on behalf of The Reading Agency and Festival partners, of the pioneering World Book Day Online Festivals 2003 and 2004. The Festivals broke new ground for World Book Day and the UK public library service, representing the marriage of cutting edge technology with reader development, and were funded by Arts Council England.

Delivered entirely over the Internet, the Festivals comprised live web casts, purpose made films and web chats with many authors including JK Rowling, Terry Pratchett, Minette Walters and Benjamin Zephaniah. The Festivals catered for all ages and were very reader-focused, with authors talking about their own reading loves as well as their writing lives. On World Book Day itself, readers also had the chance to talk to one another via a discussion forum, and take part in online voting for their favourite event.

The Festivals were made accessible to as wide a public as possible via the People's Network, the government programme connecting all UK public libraries to the Internet. In 2003 85% of all UK library authorities took part and in 2004 this increased to 98% — 205 UK library authorities — many of which ran linked events on the day. 2004 also saw increased involvement from schools and from libraries abroad, thanks to partnership working with the education sector and the British Council. Individual readers also accessed the Festivals, here and abroad.

There were three quarters of a million hits to the 2003 Festival site from 61 countries on World Book Day, with a second surge to the site on 23 April, the official date for World Book Day in all other countries. The 2004 Festival almost doubled this figure, with 1.4 million hits to the site from 78 countries on World Book Day, 3.3 million hits to the site from 100 countries throughout March, and once again a second surge on 23 April. The JK Rowling web chat alone attracted 45,500 questions, including those entered live on the day and those gathered in advance through a national schools competition and a BBC1 Newsround competition. The Festival sites were archived for ongoing use by libraries, schools and readers, and continued to attract strong interest throughout the year following each Festival.

The Festival partners were: World Book Day, The Reading Agency, Museums, Libraries and Archives Council, Society of Chief Librarians, Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals, and Colman Getty. The vision of the partners was to capitalise on the massive possibilities of the People's Network to weave together books, online interactivity and social/community activities in new ways to create new kinds of reading experiences. The Festival represented a significant breakthrough in these areas, which also met all three of the key government priority areas for libraries as outlined in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport's ten year vision for libraries, Framework for the Future.

Further details are in the Festival Evaluation Report 2004.

As well as managing the Festivals, Write2B undertook evaluation and fundraising, including preparing the £170,000 bid to the Arts Council for the 2004 Festival.