This spring the motto of Latvian children's literature lovers is "The small is big in a book", the statement that is included in the title of the message by the well-known Latvian poetess Inese Zandere dedicated to the International Children's Books Day. This was also the title of the international conference, which took place on March 19, 2018 in the National Library of Latvia. Every spring IBBY Latvia and Children's literature centre of the National library of Latvia together organize a conference for specialists of children's literature and librarians, which evaluates books, published for children and young adults in Latvia in the previous year as well as discusses other interesting issues.
The centre of this year's conference was the IBBY Latvia sponsored ICBD poster and message that reminds us that the word small is a relative concept: "In a book, the small is always big, instantly, not just upon reaching adulthood. A book is a mystery in which something unsought can be found or something beyond one's reach." (The message by I. Zandere)
The conference started with the report "IBBY: Bringing Books and Children Together and IBBY-Sections Together", given by a long-standing partner of IBBY Latvia Toin Duijx, secretary of Dutch IBBY section. In his speech, he emphasized that the mission of the IBBY in the world is to facilitate the link between children and books as well as he acquainted the conference participants with the cooperation projects carried out among the IBBY national sections.
The conference continued with reports about children's literature of Estonia and Lithuania in the 21st century – "Estonian Children's Literature in the 21st Century. The Golden Years" by Jannika Palm, researcher of Estonian Children's literature centre, and the report "Lithuanian Children's Literature in the 21st Century" by Kestutis Urba, IBBY Lithuania president. Silvija Tretjakova, liaison officer of IBBY Latvia and the head of Children's literature centre of the National library of Latvia, in her report "Latvian children's literature in the 21st century", presenting the development of children's literature in this century stressed its rapid advancement. It is interesting to compare the publishing process of children's books in three Baltic countries. Unfortunately, the conclusion is not pleasing for Latvia – annually the greatest number of books is published in Estonia– around 800 titles (although it is the smallest of all the Baltic countries), then comes Lithuania with 500 – 600 books a year while Latvia every year publishes 300 – 400 children and young adults' books.
The second part of the conference opened with Ilze Stikāne's, IBBY Latvia president, presentation – the overview of "Latvian Children's and Youth Literature in 2017", in which she evaluated 91 original first print books. Rudīte Rinkeviča, docent of University of Daugavpils, presented her paper "Translated Children's and Youth Literature in 2017" in which she focussed her attention on 200 translated books published in Latvia. The paper "Evaluation of Book Illustrations" by Renāte Kloviņa, Master's degree student of Graphic department at Art Academy of Latvia, gave the insight into the field of book illustrations as well as allowed to take a glimpse into the process of how students work on book illustrations. Conference participants learnt interesting information from the report "Research about Book Reading Habits among Inhabitants of Latvia" by Agnese Karlsone and Marita Sanžarevska, third year culture sociology and management students at Latvian Academy of Culture.
The celebration of anniversaries of two organizations that are very important for the development of children’s culture concluded the day devoted to children's literature, illustration and the promotion of reading. Together we celebrated IBBY Latvia 25th anniversary and 20th anniversary of the Children's literature centre. The event was also the occasion for donating the poster and the message "The Small is Big in a Book" to departments of IBBY in neighbouring countries, schools and libraries in Latvia.