Public libraries of the 21st century are more than places where people can read and borrow books. In contemporary urban societies, they have become central places of encounter where residents of varying interests and origins can come together and interact. In times of digital transformation and increasing diversity, libraries can teach important media skills and serve as vibrant centres of social debate – on par with theatres, museums, concert halls and art galleries. Compared with these institutions, public libraries offer free or low-priced services to all visitors regardless of social background. Consequently, libraries play a crucial role in civil society as they promote cultural, social and digital participation in a community-based and cross-generational environment. Innovative educational and cultural concepts and fascinating collaborative projects already exist at numerous libraries, but they require ongoing support to ensure their implementation and idea transfer.

With its new programme, "hochdrei – Changing City Libraries", the Federal Cultural Foundation aims to strengthen their role as cooperation-friendly and participation-oriented cultural locations. The programme encourages the development of unconventional ideas and creative formats which enable city libraries to establish themselves as open spaces of encounter in the long term. The programme consists of five modules: