Interested cities and towns have until 25 June 2020 in order to submit their candidacies to be UNESCO World Book Capital 2020. IFLA encourages libraries to approach their local authorities to explore whether they can support a bid.

The World Book Capital programme provides an opportunity to promote and celebrate cities and town which are making an exceptional commitment to promoting books and reading.

Run by UNESCO, it has already seen 21 cities awarded the title, which they hold for a year at a time. Cities from around the world have used the opportunity to hold events and run programmes around literacy, authors, and access to books.

Traditionally, libraries have been key players in World Book Capitals, acting as windows onto programming, venues for activities, and even benefitting from new support. The programme overall highlights how writers, publishers, libraries and others in the sector can work together successfully.  

IFLA itself is a member of the advisory committee that helps to select holders of the title, with the UNESCO Director General taking the final decision.

The competition for the 2022 holder – from April 2022 to April 2023 – is open to all, with the exception of cities in Europe, given that a European city will hold the title from 2021 to 2022.

Similarly, cities from Malaysia, the United Arab Emirates, the Republic of Korea, Nigeria, or Thailand are also not eligible given that cities from these countries have been successfully nominated in the last ten years.

IFLA Secretary-General Gerald Leitner said: ‘A successful book sector is built on a strong reading culture. Libraries are key players in cities, towns and villages across the world in promoting literacy and a love of the written word. I encourage libraries to reach out to their local authorities to create bids which will not only highlight good practice, but also lead to a new focus on the importance of effective libraries in a thriving book sector’.

You can find out more about how to apply on the UNESCO World Book Capital webpage.