IFLA Secretary-General Gerald Leitner speaking at a dinner ahead of the opening of Sharjah, World Book Capital 2019

The title of World Book Capital has passed from Athens, Greece, to Sharjah, United Arab Emirates. IFLA President Glòria Pérez-Salmerón and Secretary-General Gerald Leitner are representing libraries at the handover event.

The World Book Capital programme, managed by UNESCO, has seen a series of world cities take it in turn to commit to supporting books and reading. IFLA, as a member of the Advisory Committee alongside the International Publishers Association and UNESCO, has a key role in selecting recipients and shaping the programme.

The holder of the 2019 title, from 23 April 2019 until 22 April 2020, is Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates.

The city has already made a significant commitment to promoting reading through its support to libraries, books in every home, and the local publishing industry. It has also recognised the importance of for freedom in publishing if readers are to enjoy a full range of books and other materials.  

The coming year’s activities will see this work intensified, and IFLA looks forward to Sharjah offering many positive stories and examples to others, in the region and around the world.

Speaking at an event preceding the launch, IFLA Secretary-General Gerald Leitner said: 

‘For libraries, for IFLA, equitable, meaningful access to information, including the ability to find, read, understand, apply and create, is a prerequisite for sustainable development. An accelerator of progress. A bridger of divides. I am convinced that Sharjah, in its time as World Book Capital, and into the future, will provide a model for others in this respect, in the region, in the world’.

On Thursday 25 April, IFLA President Glòria Pérez-Salmerón will open the IFLA-AFLI conference, also taking place in Sharjah. IFLA Secretary-General Gerald Leitner will then offer a speech. 

Read more stories about the World Book Capital programme.