Dublin has been designated a UNESCO City of Literature in recognition of its cultural profile and its international standing as a city of literary excellence. The UNESCO City of Literature award is part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network launched in 2004. Dublin is one of only four cities in the world with the City of Literature designation, the others being Iowa City, Melbourne and Edinburgh. This award is a permanent title which aims to create synergies between cities of the same designation as well as encouraging cultural diversity. Minister for Culture and Tourism Mary Hanafin said Dublin was granted the accolade "because of the rich historical literary past of the city, the vibrant contemporary literature, the variety of festivals and attractions available and because it is the birthplace and home of literary greats". She said that the award will be a welcome boost for cultural tourism in the capital in the coming years. The criteria used to evaluate applications for the UNESCO City of Culture designation are:
quality, quantity and diversity of publishing and editorial initiatives;
quality and quantity of educational programs focusing on literature;
urban environment in which literature plays an integral role;
experience hosting literary events and festivals aimed at promoting domestic and foreign literature;
libraries, bookstores and cultural centers;
active effort to translate literary works from diverse languages;
active involvement of media, including new media, in promoting literature and strengthening the market for literary products.
The Dublin application was led by Dublin City Public Libraries.