Cologne Public Library Named 2015 Library of the Year

The Courage to Innovate and a Clear Strategy Convinced the Jury

The Cologne Public Library was honored with the 2015 Library of the Year award by the Deutsche Bibliotheksverband (dbv) (German Library Association). The award, Germany’s highest honor for libraries, will be bestowed at a ceremony on Saturday, October 24, 2015, on the “Tag der Bibliotheken” (the German national Library Day). The Cologne Public Library is the sixteenth recipient of the award.

The Cologne Public Library has courageously launched numerous unconventional and innovative initiatives and programs in the last few years. The Library focused on people, the patrons and staff, in all of its planning and so transformed itself into an essential stakeholder in the community. This was achieved despite a difficult budget situation, meager resources, and unfavourable spatial conditions through the efforts of the highly motivated staff and the interdisciplinary cooperation with the technology and creative branch industries. The Library implemented its new strategic concept by supplementing its regular programming and services with diverse and stimulating patron offerings geared at target audiences. It thus serves as an example for other libraries.

For large parts of society the library is the arbiter of education and culture. In the last few years the Cologne Public Library has positioned itself in the city as a place of innovation and education. The Library’s own creative untertakings and cooperative learning and teaching activities stand at the forefront. Reading promotion is targeted to specific groups and environments with visible results. Cooperation, openness and participation are the core values of program services. This enables the Library to stand out as its own brand and so reach new audiences.

The tremendous increase in user statistics, 60% since the implementation of the new library strategy in 2008, a figure that would elsewhere only occur with a new library building, demonstrates the potential that rests in all libraries.

The Cologne Public Library was chosen unanimously from among an excellent selection pool. The Library was nominated by the dbv’s Division for Large Libraries and the Landesverband Berlin.

All nominated libraries were judged on the following criteria: quality and innovation of library services, forward-looking approach, sustainable effect, attractive program and service offerings, effective publicity, international engagement and local, regional and international networking.

Jury President Hans-Joachim Grote particularly praised “…the Library’s successful role as creative community center and meeting place with a feel-good atmosphere. The Library illustrates the important role all libraries should play in future city planning for public spaces.”


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