The Imperial Household Agency said Friday Empress Michiko has become an honorary member of the International Youth Library in Munich, Germany following a request from the library.

The agency said it decided to transmit the library's request to the empress in view of her long-standing involvement with children's literature. She accepted the request "with surprise and pleasure," it said.

The library, founded in 1949, is one of only two international children's libraries in the world, according to the agency. It currently has a collection of about 650,000 books in more than 130 languages.

The other international library for children was founded in 2000 in Japan.

In 1993, Empress Michiko visited the International Youth Library during an overseas visit and met with authors, illustrators, and the library staff.

The empress will be the third honorary member of the library, following the late German author Erich Kaestner and the late Swedish author of children's literature Astrid Lindgren.