UNESCO World Book Capital

Each year The United Nations Educational, Scientific and  Cultural Organization searches for a city to name the “World Book Capital” with is an “acknowledgement of the best programme dedicated to books and reading.”

The entire book industry participates in this initiative, including the International Publishers Associations (IPA-UIE, the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA), and the International Booksellers Federation (IBF).

To be considered for the award the candidate programs, presented or endorsed by the major of the applicant city, has  be aimed at promoting books and fostering reading during the period between one World Book and Copyright Day and the next (23 April). The selection committee will examine the candidate programs, making a special effort to involve all regions of the world in turn, in accordance with the following criteria:

  • the degree of participation of all levels (from the municipal to the international level)
  • the program’s potential impact
  • the scope and quality of the activities proposed by the candidates, and the extent to which they involve writers, publishers, booksellers and libraries
  • any other projects promoting books and reading
  • the extent to which the programs respects the principles of freedom of expression, as stated by the UNESCO Constitution as well as by Articles 19 and 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and by the Agreement on the Importation of Educational, Scientific and Cultural Materials

The 2014 winner is Port Harcourt, Nigeria, which beat out Oxford, among eleven total finalists. The only previous African winner was Alexandria in 2002. The committee was most impressed by Port Hartcourt’s plan for the quality of their program, their emphasis on youth, and the city’s overall vision for improving literacy in Nigeria.

You can read general information about the World Book Capital City competition here. The official announcement of Port Harcourt’s win is available online here.

There is a UNESCO club in Campaign contact the Literature and Languages Library for more information.


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