Changing City Libraries

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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 programme, "hochdrei – Changing City Libraries", the Federal Cultural Foundation gave new impetus to their transformation into cooperation-friendly and participation-oriented cultural locations. The programme encouraged the development of unconventional ideas and creative formats which enable city libraries to establish themselves as open spaces of encounter. The programme consisted of the following modules:

Fact box for this programme

Funding period
Funded projects
Funding amount
5.6 millon euros

hochdrei – Fund

The fund provided funding for exemplary projects of municipal and community libraries, which were developed and implemented together with partners from the municipal society. The projects had to be suitable for the future-oriented development of the library as a place of encounter, cultural exchange and social debate through creative event formats. Over three rounds of funding, 28 projects all over Germany were supported.

Funded Projects

hochdrei – Visionenspiel

As part of the programme, the Federal Cultural Foundation has developed the hochdrei – Visionenspiel (hochdrei vision game), a digital tool for (re-)developing libraries as "third places". It was released on 24 October 2022 and will be available to (municipal) libraries, local administrations and citizens to re-think their local libraries collaboratively. During the game, different stakeholder groups will be able to discuss their individual interests and develop a shared vision for their own library.

The hochdrei – Visionenspiel browser-based interactive game (German only) and can be accessed at no cost via the website of the Federal Cultural Foundation. A paper version of the game is currently in development.

The game was comissioned by the Federal Cultural Foundation and executed by the architecture firm Die Baupiloten BDA (external link, opens in a new window) (concept, contents and layout) and the digital production studio Honig Studios (external link, opens in a new window) (technology).

>> The hochdrei – Visionenspiel is available on the website of the Federal Cultural Foundation (external link, opens in a new window) (German only). 


hochdrei – Tandem

In spring 2019, the Federal Cultural Foundation organised four tandem excursions as part of the programme, which led to exemplary libraries in Denmark and the Netherlands. This format, offered for the first time nationwide, invited 36 local politicians and their respective library directors on site to a three-day study trip. Together the tandem pairs experienced how libraries can have an impact on local society and thus become central platforms for integrated urban development processes.

hochdrei – Workshop

With this series of workshops, the Federal Cultural Foundation promoted the debate on the new role of libraries as "third places" in urban society: the green "hochdrei table" for one-day workshops was set up at various locations in Germany from summer 2019 to early 2020. Library staff and anyone interested in libraries were able to take a seat at this table to think outside the box on topics such as communication, cooperation and participation and gain a fresh perspective on current issues and challenges facing the library system. In addition to experts from the world of libraries, experts from other cultural fields also provided impulses.

hochdrei – Publications

Richard David Lankes

The Other Library – A letter to an old acquaintance


No upcoming events at present

Previous events

  • 24 October, 2022 : Bibliotheken gemeinsam neu denken – Launch-Event zum hochdrei – Visionenspiel

    Digitale Launch-Veranstaltung mit Vorstellung des Spiels und Beiträgen zu Partizipation und Bibliotheksentwicklung. Anmeldung auf www.kulturstiftung-des-bundes.de/visionenspiel

    Zoom und YouTube, online

  • 25 March, 2020 : Erzählen verändert

    Veranstaltung im Rahmen der Reihe "hochdrei Werkstatt"


  • 20 May, 2019 : Praxisworkshop: Zukunftsperspektiven und Visionen für Bibliotheken

    Veranstaltung in Kooperation mit der Fachstelle für das öffentliche Bibliothekswesen Karlsruhe

    Fachstelle für das öffentliche Bibliothekswesen, Schlossplatz 4-6 , Karlsruhe

  • 17 January, 2019 : Ideenbörse und Workshop

    Veranstaltung in Kooperation mit der Büchereizentrale Schleswig-Holstein

    Büchereizentrale Schleswig-Hollstein, Wrangelstraße 1 , Rendsburg


Antonia Lahmé

Programme DevelopmentKulturstiftung des BundesFranckeplatz 206110 Halle an der Saale
Tel: 49 (0)345 2997 117Fax: 49 (0)345 2997 300E-Mail to Antonia Lahmé