Melbourne: City of Literature
In 2008, Melbourne joined the UNESCO Creative Cities Network when it was designated the first and only City of Literature in Australia, and the second in the world.
Melbourne’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature is acknowledgment of the breadth, depth and vibrancy of the city’s literary culture. Melbourne supports a diverse range of writers, a prosperous publishing industry, a successful culture of independent bookselling, a wide variety of literary organisations and a healthy culture of reading and engagement in events and festivals.
The designation was made in recognition of the following factors, amongst others:
- the quality, quantity and diversity of publishing and editorial initiatives in Melbourne;
- the quality and quantity of educational programmes in Melbourne;
- Melbourne’s urban environment in which literature is integral;
- Melbourne’s experience at hosting literary events and festivals, and promoting foreign and domestic texts;
- Melbourne’s libraries, bookstores and cultural centres; and
- the use of new media in Melbourne to promote and strengthen the literary market.
Specific highlights of Melbourne as a City of Literature
- The city is home to an array of literary organisations, including Australian Poetry, Express Media, the Emerging Writers’ Festival, the Melbourne Writers Festival, the Small Press Network, Wheeler Centre, Writers Victoria
- Melbourne is the home for writers, independent publishers and bookstores in Australia
- The city has been home to some Australia’s greatest writers, past and present including Marcus Clarke, C J Dennis, Peter Carey, Helen Garner, Christios Tsoilkas and Nam Le to name just a few
- Melburnians consume more books, magazines and newspapers per capita than any other city in Australia and enjoy the highest concentration of community book clubs in the country.
- Melbourne is home to Australia’s oldest public library the State Library of Victoria. Founded in 1854, it was the first major cultural institution to be established in Melbourne and now attracts. over 1.7m visitors annually
- There are 289 local libraries in Victoria, with 2.5 million members who borrow around 50 million items each year and almost half of all Victorians are library members
- Writers festivals and events occur across the state and Clunes in regional Victoria is the only International Booktown in the southern hemisphere.
- Victorians of all ages are avid readers. More Victorians read for pleasure than in any other State. And last year over 230,000 children participated in the Premier’s Reading Challenge, reading more than 4 million books between them.
Melbourne City of Literature is managed by the Melbourne City of Literature Office, a joint initiative of City of Melbourne and Creative Victoria and hosted by the Wheeler Centre. The Office is responsible for celebrating and promoting this designation and everything literary Melbourne has to offer. It works closely with the literary sector to help promote and sustain literary activity in the city, and across the state.