The Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, on the recommendation of the World Book Capital Advisory Committee, selected Kuala Lumpur, the capital city of Malaysia, as World Book Capital for the year 2020.
UNESCO selected Kuala Lumpur because of the strong focus on inclusive education; and also for the development of a knowledge-based society and accessible reading for all parts of the city’s population.
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 activities and events 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 National Library of Malaysia for the disabled; and new digital services for libraries in poor housing areas of Kuala Lumpur.
The city’s objective is to foster a culture of reading. The city’s ambitious program for World Book Capital is linked to the Vision 2020 for Kuala Lumpur; and also with the eco-city project called the River of Life with open-air bookshops and libraries. The year of celebrations will start on the World Book and Copyright Day, on 23 April 2020.
The cities designated as UNESCO World Book Capital undertake to promote books and reading and organize activities over the year. Kuala Lumpur becomes twentieth city to bear the title 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).
An Advisory Committee, comprising representatives of the International Publisher’s Association (IPA), the International Federation of Library Association (IFLA) and UNESCO, accepted the application of the city of Kuala Lumpur.