UNESCO has opened the call for candidates to be World Book Capital City from 23 April 2026. IFLA warmly encourages libraries to engage with city authorities to explore submitting bids that celebrate and strengthen the contribution of books and reading to urban development.

The World Book Capital City programme has, for over 20 years, highlighted great examples of cities which recognise the power of books to deliver on a variety of sustainable urban development goals, in addition to being an important goal in themselves.

Crucial to success in this, typically, is a strong and well-supported network of city libraries, which can serve not just as places to access books, but also as catalysts for actions and activities around them. Furthermore, libraries have a unique reach into communities, and understanding of what works in delivering change.

As a member of the World Book Capital City programme advisory committee, we have been very happy to see many of the previous holders of the title place libraries at the heart of their work.

They have built and renovated facilities, expanded collections, brought in new audiences, and underlined libraries’ place as a key infrastructure for culture and inclusive and sustainable urban development alike.

It is therefore exciting to be at the stage of starting to identify who will be the holder of the title from 2026, following Strasbourg (whose term starts on 23 April this year) and Rio de Janeiro (starting on 23 April 2025).

We very much encourage libraries in towns and cities with an active and innovative approach to promoting books and reading – both as a goal in themselves and as a means of achieving wider inclusion objectives – to think about applying!

Find out more on the UNESCO website – deadline: 10 May 2024!