UNESCO has announced that Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, will be World Book Capital 2020. Taking up the status on 23 April 2020, it will, for a year, be the focus of efforts and activities to promote books and reading for all. Following a successful World Library and Information Congress, it will be a further opportunity for Malaysia’s libraries to show their ability to reach out to the hard to reach.

Kuala Lumpur will be the 20th holder of the title of World Book Capital. The programme was established in 2001 as a means of encouraging innovative efforts to boost production of, and access to, books.

Libraries have a key role to play in delivering the objectives of the programme. Through their work, they bring books to a wider readership, and by doing so, help build the writers, creators and innovators of the future.

Kuala Lumpur will be no different, with plans to create open-air libraries around the city, new digital services for libraries in poorer areas, and programmes by the National Library to deliver greater accessibility to people with disabilities.

This focus – a key theme of the successful World Library and Information Congress held in Kuala Lumpur less than a month ago – on reaching the hard to reach, is also at the heart of IFLA’s advocacy around libraries and the UN’s 2030 Agenda.

IFLA Secretary General Gerald Leitner said:

Books safeguard the past, fire the imagination, and drive development. Libraries are essential to making them accessible to all.

I am very glad that Kuala Lumpur, which hosted such a great World Library and Information Congress only last month, will be World Book Capital 2020. It is a great opportunity for the city’s libraries to show again how, by making books accessible to all, they can build more sustainable and successful societies.  

IFLA, alongside UNESCO and the International Publishers’ Association, is a member of the Advisory Committee on the World Book Capital, and encourages successful bids to give a full role to libraries. See also the UNESCO press release on the announcement.