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:

  • The hochdrei Fund awards funding to exemplary projects at city and municipal libraries that are jointly developed and implemented with partners from their communities. These projects should develop creative event formats that help transform libraries into future-oriented places of encounter, cultural exchange and social debate. The submission deadline for the second round of applications is 31 August 2019. You can download the funding criteria from this page.

    The projects funded through hochdrei are selected by an independent jury comprised of the following experts:

    Sabine Brunner, director of the Thuringian Consulting Centre for Public Libraries in Erfurt, chairperson for the Conference of Library Consulting Centres in Germany

    Prof. Dr.-Ing. Susanne Hofmann, architect (die baupiloten BDA), visiting professor of construction and design, residential building and cultural buildings at the TU Berlin since 2009

    Barbara Lison, director of the Bremen city library

    Danilo Vetter, director of the Pankow city library

    Prof. Cornelia Vonhof, vice dean at the Hochschule der Medien, bachelor’s programme “Library and Information Management”, Stuttgart


  • This module offers directors of city and municipal libraries the chance to team up with administrative representatives from their city (e.g. mayor, head of cultural affairs) and visit libraries in other European countries which have already implemented innovative library concepts. The purpose of these three-day excursions is to encourage interdisciplinary, cross-border exchange and engage in dialogue that focuses on the needs and concerns of libraries and municipal policymakers.

  • With this workshop series, the Federal Cultural Foundation wishes to encourage discussion on the new role of libraries as a “third place” of urban society. Starting in May 2019, the green “threefold” table will be set up at various locations in Germany for one-day workshops. At these tables, library employees and interested citizens can meet and discuss such issues as communication, cooperation and participation from different angles and gain fresh perspectives on current issues and the challenges facing the library sector. The initiators include library professionals and experts from other cultural fields.

  • Joint seminars ensure that the libraries supported by this programme will continue sharing their experience and create new impulses for existing projects. The thematic focus of these seminars will be determined in consultation with the participating libraries.

  • In combination with the Academy, this module enables the participants to develop a suitable format for knowledge-sharing which will continue after the programme concludes. The goal is to develop a modern, flexible online tool which can be regularly updated and supplemented with new content. The format will bundle the expertise gained from the workshops and academy and make it accessible long-term along with best-practice examples.

The Federal Cultural Foundation has allocated a total of 5.6 million euros to finance the programme "hochdrei – Changing City Libraries" from 2018 to 2022.


Hassan Soilihi Mzé

Kulturstiftung des Bundes Franckeplatz 2 06110 Halle (Saale)
Tel: 49 (0)345 2997 188 Fax: 49 (0)345 2997 333 E-Mail