Kuala Lumpur has been named World Book Capital for the year 2020 by the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, on the recommendation of the World Book Capital Advisory Committee.
A press statement on the UNESCO website says KL was selected because of the strong focus on inclusive education, the development of a knowledge-based society and accessible reading for all parts of the city’s population.
Cities designated as UNESCO World Book Capital undertake to promote books and reading and to organise activities over the year. KL’s programme for its stint as World Book Capital is linked to the Vision 2020 for Kuala Lumpur and the eco-city project called the River of Life with open-air bookshops and libraries populating the newly-restored waterways of the city.
The city’s objective is to foster a culture of reading and inclusiveness – “A city that reads is a city that cares” – emphasising ubiquitous access to books throughout the city. With the slogan “KL Baca – caring through reading”, the program focuses on four themes: reading in all its forms, development of the book industry infrastructure, inclusiveness and digital accessibility, and empowerment of children through reading.
Among other events and activities there will be the construction of a book city (the Kota Buku Complex), a reading campaign for train commuters, enhancing of digital services and accessibility by the National Library of Malaysia for the disabled, and new digital services for libraries in 12 libraries in poor housing areas of KL.
The year of celebrations will start on 23 April, 2020, on the World Book and Copyright Day.
KL is the 20th city to bear the title of World Book Capital since 2001, following Sharjah (2019), and Athens (2018). Past winners include Madrid (2001), Alexandria (2002), New Delhi (2003), Anvers (2004), Montreal (2005), Turin (2006), Bogota (2007), Amsterdam(2008), Beirut (2009), Ljubljana (2010), Buenos Aires (2011), Erevan (2012), Bangkok (2013), Port Harcourt (2014), Incheon (2015), Wroclaw (2016).
Together, let’s make the wealth of books available to all!
— UNESCO (@UNESCO) 19 September 2018