Beirut: “World Book Capital 2009”
babelmed - 02/08/2007
Beirut is the ninth city to be designated World Book Capital, after Madrid (2001), Alexandria (2002), New Delhi (2003), Antwerp (2004), Montreal (2005), Turin (2006), Bogotá (2007) and Amsterdam (2008).
According to the selection committee, the city of Beirut was selected “in the light of its focus on cultural diversity, dialogue and tolerance, and of its diverse and stimulating programme.” The Director-General was delighted “to see that the city of Beirut, which is facing great challenges in terms of peace and peaceful coexistence, is recognized for its commitment to dialogue, which is necessary more then ever in the region, and that the book is able to contribute actively towards this goal".
Every year, UNESCO and the three major branches of the global book industry – the International Publishers Association (IPA), the International Booksellers Federation (IBF) and the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) – designate a city as World Book Capital for the 12 months between two celebrations of World Book and Copyright Day (23 April). This initiative is a collaborative effort between representatives of principal stakeholders in the book sector and the cities which have committed themselves to promote books and reading.
The city may hold the title for one designated year, from 23 April (UNESCO World Book Day) until 22 April of the following year. During that year it undertakes to organise and run a larger number of events around books, literature and reading.
The programme brings together the local and national book industries and puts books and book culture into the public eye. It attracts sponsorship and extra funding for book related institutions. The programme raises awareness for literacy and reading issues, libraries and books shops and highlights the overall benefits of a lively book culture. The title is also used to promote tourism and draw national and international attention to the literary heritage of a city and nation.
This year, the Selection Committee was made up of Ana Maria Cabanellas, representing the International Publishers Association (IPA), Françoise Dubruille, representing the International Booksellers Federation (IBF) and Peter Lor, representing the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).