The University of Iowa

In the news: Iowa City grows after 10 years as City of Literature

December 10th, 2018

Two students read books in the Dey House on Tuesday, November 27, 2018. Iowa City is celebrating 10 years of being named UNESCO City of Literature.

by Kinsey Phipps, The Daily Iowan

Iowa City was designated the world’s third City of Literature by the UNESCO on Nov. 20, 2008. It has been a decade of recognizing, learning, writing, listening, and appreciating literature here in the heart of the U.S. 

The UNESCO Creative Cities Network was established in 2004, hoping to increase cooperation among cities who feel that creativity is essential to city growth and development. Crafts and folk art, design, film, gastronomy, literature, media arts, and music are all creative titles awarded to cities dedicated to their craft. 

Edinburgh, Scotland, was the first City of Literature in 2004. Four years later, a group with members of the International Writing Program, Iowa City, the Iowa City Public Library, and the University of Iowa came together to build an application for UNESCO. The town was designated as the third City of Literature a couple weeks behind Melbourne, Australia, local City of Literature Executive Director John Kenyon said.

Just months after the floods of 2008, Iowa City received the City of Literature designation. Rachael Carlson, Iowa City UNESCO director of operations, said this was a bright light in a dark time for the community because so much of the Arts Campus was lost.