Ljubljana is home to 35 public libraries, including 142 specialised libraries, 2,628,810 books in the National and University Library of Slovenia, and 14 theatres. There are 284 associations, institutions, and organisations promoting literature that have their seat in Ljubljana, including the Slovenian Book Agency, the Slovene Publishers Society and the Slovenian Association of Literary Translators.
Ljubljana also has three literary houses: Trubar Literature House, Vodnik Homestead and Poetry Centre Tomaž Šalamun.
Over a quarter of Ljubljana’s population are members of the city’s public library network. Ljubljana City Library has over 84,000 members, giving it the biggest membership of all the libraries in Slovenia. On average, every inhabitant visits the City Library five times per year. Ljubljana’s largest collection of books, the National and University Library of Slovenia, was designed by architect Joze Plecnik and holds a collection of works by some of the most important Slovenian poets and writers.
Ljubljana was named the 10th UNESCO World Book Capital in 2010 for one year. During that year, books and reading were the central theme of events and media attention across Slovenia. In that same year, the city gained a new house of literature named after Primoz Trubar where special events dedicated to the book, literature, and journalism continue to take place every day of the year.
Ljubljana has been a member of the International Cities of Refuge Network (ICORN) since 2011.
During World War II, the city was the centre of an illegal literary resistance movement which saw graphic houses printing propaganda but also publishing literary works at this time of great unrest and distress.
COLLABORATION WITH OTHER CITIES
One of the greatest advantages of being in the Cities of Literature network is to share experience and knowledge. Ljubljana does not have creative writing programmes at the University level so we have reached out to the University of Iowa to help develop and implement the programmes at our University. The University of Iowa has a long and very successful tradition of such programmes.
Collaboration with the other Cities also happens in the form of exchange and promotion of authors. World Poetry Day is celebrated with poetry events throughout Ljubljana and other Cities of Literature. Each year, we join Granada for the event where we introduce one of the Slovenian poets.
SUMMER ON BIG SCREEN AND AMONG THE COVERS
Each year, at the end of August, Ljubljana co-hosts a four-day open-air festival of film and books with a pop-up bookshop (featuring books that were made into films or series), talks on books and films, plus a screening of a film based on books, open-air ‘Library under the treetops’, together with the Slovenian Cinematheque.
LIBRARY UNDER THE TREETOPS
One of the most popular national projects for spreading the reading culture was developed from a simple idea of integration of reading and relaxing. It starts at the end of May and with interesting accompanying events lasts until the end of August.
Fabula - Literature of the World festival is the biggest and most visited literary festival in Slovenia and the wider region. Founded in 2003, it has hosted many modern classics: the Nobel prize-winning author Herta Müller, Irvine Welsh, Jonathan Franzen, Hanif Kureishi, Janice Galloway, Amitav Ghosh, David Grossman, Richard Flanagan, and many others. Apart from the central literary guests, the accompanying program enriches the festival every year, hosting the biggest thinkers of our time. The complete festival programme is designed for all generations and is accessible to every visitor. At the time of the festival, five books by the visiting authors are published in a special Fabula collection.
In May 2017 Ljubljana opened a renovated hotel Švicarija (‘Swisshouse’) in the main public park. It offers a temporary space to twelve local artists to create and perform. The residency and public programmes focus on interdisciplinarity, and address the wider public, introduce educational programmes, and develop the potential for the Swisshouse to become a place for creativity and entertainment. In 2018, Ljubljana started its first literary residency in the Swisshouse for authors from other UNESCO Cities of Literature.
In the next few years Ljubljana is going to convert a former sugar factory into a Palace of Youth and Literature, a unique space for connecting books with young people. In the palace Ljubljana is going to open the first and only specialized library for youth and a youth centre, and will run programmes for encouraging reading that will involve young people. In the palace there will also be a residency for ICORN members, rooms for writers and translators, and a literary residency.