In 1934, in response to the petition of the Philippine Library Association at the time, Governor General Frank Murphy issued a proclamation designating as National Book Week the period extending from June 18 to 24 of every year. This was aimed at arousing the national interest in reading good books and “designed to sell the public library to the community by focusing the attention of the people on its resources and the extent and nature of its services.” To ensure greater participation of the public, various libraries and educational institutions, the program of celebration were designed to include the essay and poster contests, book exhibitions, and visits to libraries and printing establishments. In the past, important local newspapers and magazines published contributed articles and messages about National Book Week, and two programs were broadcast over radio.
Prominent men and officials of the Philippine government, such as Governor General Frank Murphy, President Manuel L. Quezon of the Philippine Senate, the most Reverend Michael O’Doherty, Archbishop of Manila, and Dr. Rafael Palma, President of the University of the Philippines, contributed congratulatory messages for the souvenir program. Judging from the response of the public and from the cooperation given by the leading universities, school libraries, bookstores, printing establishments, and different educational institutions, the idea of a book week was enthusiastically welcomed throughout the country resulting in the recognition of the public library service.
In 1936, Commonwealth President Manuel L. Quezon moved the dates of the annual celebration to November 24-30. In 1937, the Philippine Library Association published and distributed a pamphlet entitled “Book Festival Handbook,” a collection of materials and suggested ideas for celebrating Book Week; its purpose was to encourage schools, colleges, universities, and other institutions to participate. It was compiled by Mr. Perfecto S. Sison, who was then the Chairman of the Book Week Committee.
In 1939, the Catholic Church began taking an active part in the observance of the Book Week. The Archbishop of Manila designated the Sunday Book Week for the observance for all Catholic Churches and enjoined priests to deliver sermons on the value of reading good books. The Bishops likewise enjoined parishes in their respective dioceses to observe the day. Some Protestant churches joined the celebration by holding special programs and exhibits.
Every year, the National Book Week has been observed all over the country with a similar program of activities.