Why are public libraries important to children

On the current situation of public libraries in Germany

Order of the libraries

Since the 1990s, the image of the mostly communal, often also church-supported public libraries in cities and municipalities has changed significantly under the influence of social, technological and media developments. In contrast to the academic libraries, i.e. the university, state and special libraries, the public libraries pursue a mission that does not focus on individual user groups or special subject areas, but is committed to the needs of a broader public - priority areas and individual target groups are not focused locked out. As a result, they are particularly subject to cultural changes and spatial developments in cities and rural regions (Philip 2002: 3).

With their diverse range of information, media and services, the public operates in an environment that is characterized by increasingly differentiated social milieus, demographic change, rising book prices, an expanding market for digital and virtual media, and last but not least, a rapidly growing need for education (Plassmann / Rösch / Seefeldt / Circulation 2011: 95). In many large, medium-sized and small-town areas, libraries are a low-threshold infrastructure facility for all social classes and ages and are a much-used contact, knowledge provider and social meeting point that satisfies a wide variety of information and entertainment needs. In quantitative terms, they have long been the most popular cultural institutions in municipalities. Their general mandate has remained unchanged, to make an important contribution for all citizens to the fulfillment of the constitutionally enshrined fundamental right to "inform oneself unhindered from generally accessible sources" (Basic Law Article 5, Paragraph 1) - and that politically neutral, free of Commerce and profit maximization and as social and close to people as possible.

Number of libraries

If in 2018 of the 11,254 municipalities in Germany around 3,900 had a communal Public library (with around 4,980 library locations including branches) - that is around 44% of all regional authorities (German library statistics DBS 2017), then that is a respectable number. To speak of a close-knit library network here, however, would be unrealistic. And the fact that less than half of them are full-time technical management, while the majority consists of volunteers and part-time workers with often less professional competence, is another fact, the latter especially in rural areas and communities with less than five thousand inhabitants.

The 3,300, mostly smaller, 98% of them run voluntarily, should not go unmentioned ecclesiastical Public libraries, which almost exclusively in small town and rural areas outside the metropolitan areas contribute to improving the network structure and thus the politically hoped-for equal supply of all settlement areas: In this way, a public library is available in around 73% of all municipalities is, albeit with very different sizes and capabilities. In urban agglomerations, the existing structures (opening times, media inventory, staffing and financial resources) and the library expansion are generally better than the national average, while in rural regions they are significantly less developed - the undeniable urban-rural divide is particularly noticeable in the library sector.

A few more figures to illustrate: Of the 11,254 municipalities that exist nationwide, 10,554 municipalities have fewer than 20,000 inhabitants (= 93.8% of all municipalities), there are around 7,000 municipalities (= 62.2% of all) under 3,000 inhabitants Municipalities). If around 45.3 million people live in the remaining 700 municipalities with more than 20,000 inhabitants, the figure in the small town and other rural regions is 37.6 million, which makes for a total of 82.9 million people living in Germany proportionately 45.4% (cf. Statista 2018). The topic dealt with here in rural areas is therefore of direct relevance for at least a third of the German population and for two thirds of all municipalities.

Cultural education in libraries

deals Cultural education at first glance, however, they hardly appear to be specifically identified as such in the profile picture of many public libraries. This may be due to the fact that the term is not sufficiently defined in the understanding of library policy or there is a lack of concise objectives and concrete descriptions: What exactly is behind it? Or is this desideratum because the topic has always been occupied by other cultural institutions such as museums, theaters, music schools and libraries have tended to put the matter aside? This assessment can at least be drawn due to the lack of a topic in the specialist library discussion. With regard to libraries, the following questions should be asked: Which contents and ideas, goals and expectations should cultural education explicitly fulfill? What can and should be achieved in libraries that other cultural institutions are not already doing better? Who benefits from it, which educational or economic benefits does it bring, which improved image could it achieve? Is cultural education a full component in the canon of all existing educational functions that primary and secondary educational and cultural institutions have to fulfill partly with and partly without a legal mandate? Clear assessments, targets and suggestions for action would be necessary and useful here.

After the founding of the Federal Republic of Germany, the public library was seen exclusively as a cultural institution for decades and thus also classified by politics and the public. Since reunification, a change has taken place towards its recognition as an educational institution. Public libraries today are making intensive efforts to distinguish themselves as (secondary) educational institutions and to be taken seriously by school and other educational institutions as well as by educational policy as an equal partner: after all, educational tasks are among the legally compulsory, financially strongly funded institutions as opposed to voluntary ones Cultural area. The libraries would like to be one of these compulsory tasks and have long been struggling for such a role with the support of their federal, state and local associations.

If you focus so strongly on elementary educational functions, including critical voices, then there is no risk of that strong second cultural The mainstay of public libraries is in danger of being forgotten? What political weight does “cultural education” have today - after all, a concept in which “culture” and “education” seem to be brought together on an equal footing? It should be noted that the primary goals of community library work have long been - and very likely in the near future - in the Reading promotion of children and adolescents, support in the (increasingly digitally oriented) Media and research skills, in the active accompaniment and help with school and professional (Education, training and further education as well as in all aspects of an individual Lifelong learning lie. This is where their core business takes place; this is where the libraries provide important services and assistance.

Or is everything that libraries do per se, ultimately cultural work and thus - as a matter of course - already “cultural education”? Pragmatists in the libraries will see it more calmly: Sometimes the pendulum of their library work, their offers and services swings more towards “culture”, other times more towards “education”. If so, then the critical assessments that have been expressed are obsolete and can be safely deleted.

From the author's point of view, it would be important to expand the concept of culture and not just focus it on institutions or sectors in a redefinition. I share the assessment that, especially in smaller towns and communities, in addition to cultural institutions such as libraries, music and art schools and museums, there are also former agricultural, craft or commercial buildings, in monasteries, castles and palaces, as well as cultural centers, community and town houses adult education centers, tourist offices, associations, neighborhoods, private individuals and companies are also to be included and involved as cultural actors. That would also name the most important players with whom libraries should enter into partnership agreements, depending on the region and environment and at eye level.

Above all efforts to strengthen cultural education, however, hovers a core problem: What is meant, especially in the library sector, is the weak political and legal anchoring of cultural institutions - in contrast to educational institutions such as schools, adult education centers or universities. In the Federal Republic there is no nationwide applicable library law and since reunification only five of the 16 federal states have passed their own library laws in their parliaments - but without binding norms and obligations, so public libraries are still among the so-called "voluntary tasks" of the municipalities (practical handbook Library Management 2015: 25). This means that no municipality has to set up or maintain a library, but it can do so if it takes seriously the task that the municipalities have to perform in the area of ​​education and culture due to the municipal regulations. Based on this general mandate to contribute what is necessary to the cultural services of their citizens, municipalities - depending on their size and financial strength - maintain a public library in addition to a theater, orchestra, museum, archive, music school or adult education center (Seefeldt / Syré 2017 : 26).

Library work in rural areas

Libraries in rural areas

Rural regions, What is it? Current binding definitions are rather rare. They are understood as a spatial category in rural circles higher density and rural counties lower density is divided and faces the urbanized areas as well as the urban conurbations. As is now undisputed among experts, there is the rural areas actually not at all. Today it is widely accepted that the decisive factor for the attribute “rural” is the degree of distance to the nearest central or regional center as well as the settlement structure or the degree of agricultural character.

The facts are clear: the smaller and thus economically weaker a municipality, the lower the cultural commitment and per capita expenditure on culture - seen in this way, a kind of vicious circle. There is little financial leeway to present a sufficiently attractive cultural offer or to offer new mobile communication formats. In order to take advantage of cultural offerings, especially in rural regions, children, young people as well as employed and senior citizens often have to travel long distances to the next larger medium-sized or large city, which is often made more difficult by limited public transport or being involved in all-day school operations. Today's reality is sobering for certain social groups: Although life in the country can be idyllic, relaxing and quiet, for many it can also be lonely if there is no need-oriented bus or train traffic or people without cars, i.e. the personal mobility of the People and thus the accessibility of important facilities such as supermarkets, doctors, pharmacies, schools, municipal administrations, club houses and cultural institutions is severely restricted. The increasingly older people register this development with worry and helplessness. The slightly growing number of, for example, voluntarily organized citizens' buses for individual transfers from A to B may be a notable exception. Facilities close to the citizen, whether stationary or mobile, best to be reached on foot or at least with little traffic technology, would be an important plus point for the rural region. Delivery and parcel services of all kinds could also be used as an addition or as an alternative for certain needs.

Goals of library work

Even if the goal of addressing the broadest possible public of all classes and groups and introducing them to the public libraries remains generally applicable, the young user groups of 3 to 16 year olds are the focus of library work almost everywhere - in urban and rural areas the experiences almost the same. Language and reading skills are seen by all political and professional actors as the decisive basic prerequisites for the acquisition of education, academic and professional success. In line with the growing importance of language and reading promotion and the imparting of research and media skills, the libraries - especially in smaller municipalities and church-run libraries - are increasingly concentrating on offers and services for young age groups from six to 16 years of age even the two- to five-year-olds (Plassmann et al 2011: 96). Often more than a third of the book and media collections are geared towards this user group and age-appropriate furniture and room layout support this concern.

Accordingly, children's and youth literature and the numerous possibilities for its active use and presentation play an important role in the task profile of all public libraries. The librarians are aware that precisely this medium makes a decisive contribution to reading socialization, in which reading is learned as one of the fundamental cultural techniques. Learning activities such as independently grasping, understanding and recognizing social reality, as explained by educators, are significantly influenced by reading. Reading skills thus offers an important basis for participation and that already in early childhood.

Libraries as places of learning and leisure

The terms Reading promotion - especially reading competence and reading performance - are defined and used differently by educators and librarians. Reading promotion is generally understood to be a somewhat vaguely defined collective term for various methodological processes that are intended to promote and improve reading interest, reading volume, reading fluency or text comprehension. Reading promotion in the library sense should encourage reading and develop stable reading behavior, i.e. generate a positive influence on reading motivation and reading habit. Public libraries of all sizes, in urban and rural areas, with their age-appropriate and development-appropriate selection of books and media, offer the right kind of reading.

If you look at the variety of activities and events on offer, most libraries have taken on social functions and have developed into communication and cultural centers that enrich the social and cultural infrastructure of a community (Plassmann et al 2011: 96). Its importance and function as a public meeting place, as a leisure and as a place of learning has grown beyond dispute. Against the background of a slowly increasing impoverishment of certain population groups and social milieus - according to surveys, the gap between rich and poor is growing a little wider every year - socio-political aspects in library work are gaining importance again. Buying books is not a matter of course for many people of all ages and a personal PC with Internet access is not always available at home.

Another recognizable desideratum is the frequent lack of an action-based projection of cultural education in the library area in rural areas. Traditional cultural work by museums, theaters, music schools etc. has so far been defined almost exclusively as urban culture; villages and small towns were only familiar with it to a limited extent. The limited availability of funds and the limited space of the existing public libraries alone greatly reduce the chances of being perceived and taken seriously as an attractive location for cultural activities.

Situation of libraries in rural areas

What is the reality like in rural regions below 5,000 inhabitants? The libraries (run by local authorities or by the church) are spatially much smaller than in medium-sized and large cities with an area of ​​several hundred or thousand square meters. Often there is no more than one building with a classroom size of around 50-70 square meters.Weekly opening times are limited to six to ten hours, spread over two or three days. The acquisition budgets for media are lower and are often only around or less than one euro per inhabitant. The management works on a voluntary basis, if necessary a team of two to four employees is on duty, in church libraries even up to ten or 15 people. The volunteer work is often very courageous and strives for professionalism, but all in all it is only satisfactorily set up where it receives continuous technical know-how with the help of state or church-funded specialist agencies.

A crucial point is therefore the question: Does a federal state or church-sponsored or supported specialist units or library centers exist that intervene in a technical control, motivate with ideas, concepts and measures, provide high-quality training and further education offers, if possible different incentives and Can offer financial aid and thus act as a motor and initiator for a wide range of support services? In 15 of the 16 federal states - apart from Berlin - there are specialist units of this type (24 state and 15 church) which, despite different staffing and material resources and tasks, are indispensable partners of the city and community libraries, especially in small-town and village rural areas (Seefeldt / Syré 2017: 69-71). In all cultural and educational planning and deliberations of the decision-makers from the federal, state and local authorities with regard to the future stronger and sustainable promotion of rural areas, the specialist departments in the library sector must definitely be involved.

Libraries as 'third places' - even on a small scale

There is one catchphrase that has stimulated the current specialist discussion about new concepts and profile building like no other: libraries as Third places. The technical term, borrowed from sociology, describes the strategic decision of libraries, in addition to many other profiling projects, above all as a place of communication and social space. Public libraries if they are as such Third places understand, not only want to set striking architectural accents with their buildings, i.e. to be seen by the population both outside and inside and to take on the function of widely recognized social places with the help of a high quality of stay. In fact, a growing number of modern new library buildings or the reconstruction of historical buildings are having a remarkable impact on many places.

Following the example of other libraries in Scandinavia, Great Britain, the Netherlands or the USA, for example, some libraries have developed ideas on how other service facilities can be integrated in their own premises or in the immediate vicinity: tourist information centers, adult education centers, museums, restaurants, cafeterias, bookshops , Bank branches or exhibition and conference rooms are examples. Developing libraries into lively places of learning and information centers that provide rooms for individuals or groups to work on is becoming the focus of library objectives in large cities. Transferring this to the rural regions on a smaller scale would be a sensible challenge and task that creates synergies. Not only learning or scientific work, also art exhibitions or theater projects, music and singing evenings can be carried out well in appropriately large, multifunctional library rooms. Since the needs of the users and participants are different, flexible, technically up-to-date and versatile room furnishings are required.

As the discrepancy between the number of active media borrowers and the much higher number of identified visitors in libraries shows, there is a considerable need for publicly accessible social communication and event rooms. The cafeteria has already become an integral part of a modern library. Pleasantly furnished rooms, so-called “living rooms”, are establishing themselves in Anglo-Saxon and Scandinavian libraries, in which visitors can hang out for conversation, surfing the Internet, drinking coffee or relaxing reading. Or, if necessary, they can look at art objects, listen to music or interact with each other in theater courses and projects. Interior designers have to devote themselves more than ever to an experience-oriented design of variable and certainly also “function-free” rooms. In addition, opening times into the evening hours and on weekends, and also on Sundays if necessary, should be a matter of course. Today's library - not just tomorrow's and also the smaller one in the country - is, in the sense of the Third Place, a house of collective inspiration, a place with ambience and style, where people enjoy spending time and the world of information research, books, is relaxed and modern media that encounters people and their literary or artistic works (Seefeldt / Syré 2017: 142). Ultimately, libraries of this kind also become location factors and frequency generators for the local economy or tourism.

Program and event work as a pillar of cultural educational offers

If it is clear that many of the library offers are to be understood as cultural educational work, then public libraries have a great deal to expand with: their numerous events. The program and event work that public libraries do weekly and monthly - and often also in the small and micro-libraries in rural regions - is enormous and grows annually, quantitatively and also qualitatively. In 2015, a total of around 374,000 events were held by and in (around 8,500) library locations. Around half of the events were aimed at children: library introductions, exhibitions, readings, music, theater and cabaret activities, etc. (Data poster 2016: Libraries count! 2015 reporting year). Statistically speaking, there were 44 events per year per library. That corresponds to three to four events per month. In many small community libraries - especially in places with less than 3,000 inhabitants - it is quite realistic to hold two and more events of different types and target groups per month, mostly in cooperation with kindergartens and schools and there too.

When it comes to program and event work, the libraries are concerned - in addition to pedagogical aspects such as reading motivation and language training, media literacy and advanced training, or creativity, entertainment and meaningful leisure activities, as well as socio-political aspects such as participation in democratic dialogue - of course also about the Proactively bring book holdings to the public and bring broad target groups into the libraries.

Only a small part of the various campaign examples can be highlighted here. This includes:

  • Regular readings for children aged 1-7 years
  • Implementation of picture book cinemas for children from 4-7 years
  • Author's readings and meetings with illustrators
  • Play and handicraft afternoons based on book templates
  • Video and film screenings for all ages
  • Implementation of "summer reading clubs" during the holidays
  • modern forms such as interactive board stories, social reading and transmedia storytelling
  • Reading workshops and literary discussion groups for different ages
  • Organization of writing and literature workshops
  • Reading nights with school classes or mixed groups of children and young people
  • Various forms of class tours: experience, topic or information-oriented
  • Setting up a swap exchange, a reading corner or a bookshelf in a school class (Seefeldt / Syré 2017: 80).

Reading promotion

Libraries are increasingly focusing on measures to promote gender-sensitive reading, which take effect when different partners cooperate and complement each other: in demand are parents, educators, teachers, libraries, bookstores, publishers and, last but not least, politicians. Research shows that gender-related prejudices can influence both the educational outcomes of girls and boys as well as their career choices. It is neither about maintaining traditional role models nor about leveling out. For girls and boys, it is important to experience their needs and interests individually and to allow their preferences. In addition to the special promotion of reading for boys, it is undisputed that the promotion of girls' reading remains important, precisely in order to recognize their inclination for topics and professions that are not typical for women.

In addition to conventional book media, digital and multimedia offers are increasingly becoming the focus of modern reading promotion. Mention should be made of hybrid picture books that work on the principle of augmented reality: Here children of kindergarten age experience the classic picture book with text on their tablet or smartphone in a different way, i.e. H. with sound and video examples. For older children, there are offers to create their own e-books using an app or social reading offers that allow the online exchange of texts.

Cooperation projects

In addition to the campaigns financed by the federal states, the federal government has been involved in promoting reading for some time. This is mainly done through cooperation between the Federal Ministry of Research (BMBF) and the Reading Foundation and the German Library Association e.V. (dbv), demBorromeo Association, the Evangelical literature portal, the Saint Michaelsbund and the specialist center conference (Seefeldt / Syré 2017: 81). The funding and cooperation models developed in recent years by the BMBF in particular, in which many dozen public libraries participate every year, especially through the dbv as a coordinator, to provide theater, art, music, monument, and singing and media-related institutions and groups to develop joint projects are important actions with a constant challenge: The projects offered are considered to be quite bureaucratic in terms of application, preparation and follow-up, as they require an intensive exchange of ideas with other local cultural institutions and are practical and ideal Interfaces and synergies must be explored and implemented later in feasible actions. Some of the projects that address, for example, arthouse cinemas, children's and youth theater groups, youth barns, traditional associations such as choral societies, amateur theater or music schools, seem at first glance to bypass the traditional work of many libraries in terms of content. However, if you broaden your view, are creative and can think outside the box, you will discover that meaningful cooperation with distributed roles is very possible. Sometimes the idea of ​​competition prevents a rapprochement. Developing networks is time-consuming and labor-intensive, but it is still indispensable.

The change that has been initiated is slowly becoming visible. as evidenced by the increasing number of initiatives and collaborations between public libraries and other local cultural institutions, especially in small-town areas. The variety of activities is obviously less in regions with predominantly village structures. Using all types of book and non-book media - which are generally and compulsorily more or less widely available in public libraries - some promising projects have been developed in the last two or three years and carried out in partnership, such as:

  • In holiday workshops, children and young people from the city of 4,700 people created Erdmannhausen (Baden-Württemberg) under the title "Discover your Erdmannhausen - Actionbound for Erdmannhausen" with the app Actionbound Rallies through the city. They made their own films or filmed interviews and took pictures for the creation of comics.
  • In the city library Schneverdingen In the Lüneburg Heath, a community with 19,000 inhabitants, ten reading tandems between children and senior citizens were formed under the title “Children's books, films & apps”. During the weekly meetings, the children's reading skills were promoted through reading, reading aloud and using reading apps together. Visits to the cinema of book adaptations rounded off the program.
  • In the project "Nature meets technology - create your story" of the city library Espelkamp
    In North Rhine-Westphalia with 25,000 inhabitants, children created their own photo stories about animals in the forest with tablets after reading a non-fiction book together and visiting the forester during a holiday project week.

As part of the BMBF-funded and the dbv together with theDigital Opportunities Foundationorganized project Reading makes you strong: reading and digital media from 2013 to 2017 in 16 federal states with the participation of libraries more than 350 Alliances for Education realized, of which an estimated 15% by libraries in small and medium-sized towns. In the projects to promote reading and media skills, the independent creative use of media was in the foreground. A (pre) read text always formed the starting point of the campaign, which served as the basis for further development with the help of digital media, social media applications, gaming, geo or educational caching as well as film or radio play projects. Volunteers supported the full-time alliance partners on site. Accompanying the Digital Opportunities Foundation a free qualification campaign with advanced training courses in dealing with new media for the participating volunteers (Seefeldt / Syré 2017: 81).

Important supplementary functions through mobile libraries and school libraries

Mobile libraries
In the local as well as supra-regional information and media supply, in addition to the building-bound libraries, are still taking mobile Libraries play a distinctive role. Such mobile libraries are not only used in the suburbs of large cities, but also to a large extent in sparsely populated rural regions: They are book buses of different sizes that carry between 3,000 and 6,000 items of media on their scheduled tours with fixed locations every week or two weeks. In 2013, around 90 mobile libraries with around 100 vehicles were in use in Germany. In 1995 there were 150 buses. Despite the decreasing number of vehicles, their use and response in the population has remained constant at a high level. In addition to lending media, the buses are also an attractive place to learn, play and read aloud for many groups (Seefeldt / Syré 2017: 59). In rural regions in particular, it would be urgently necessary to increase the number of book buses carried by rural districts, for example, and to use them as a replacement for non-existent location-bound libraries.

The establishment of mobile libraries is usually associated with the political will to reduce the existing urban-rural divide with regard to library offers. While book buses are also small social and cultural meeting points in many rural communities, they function as mobile branches in large cities and often go to schools and kindergartens. Sometimes they replace local branches that are closed to save money. The primary target groups are children and young people, mothers and fathers with small children, senior citizens and, however, also refugees. Cooperation with institutions such as kindergarten, elementary and secondary school is one of the core tasks. As in the fixed-location libraries, book buses are used to promote reading by offering library introductions, reading hours to accompany lessons and topic-related projects for kindergarten groups and school classes. Cooperation agreements between the institutions serve well in that they jointly define goals and tasks, as well as describe steps for implementation. The mobile library can certainly advertise its greatest advantages as being mobile and flexible: it can react quickly to changes in the population or infrastructure with newly adapted stops and timetables, lengthen or shorten stop times and expand media offers. Mobile libraries enable school children to visit a library regularly, and they are often an integral part of the classroom (Seefeldt / Syré 2017: 74).

School libraries
The libraries in the schools also offer similar opportunities for additional cultural and educational work. In terms of numbers alone, small towns and larger villages have more elementary schools than community libraries. Libraries and schools have been closely linked for decades, even if the cooperation between schools and their school libraries and public and academic libraries has been criminally neglected for a long time. Similar to mobile libraries, school libraries and media libraries can make a contribution to strengthening the cultural integrity of a place or a region and to win over their users, teachers as well as pupils, as active promoters of culture.The prerequisite is the availability of school libraries that are adequately equipped in terms of space, staff and media - here the reality in town and country looks completely different.

The establishment, equipment and technical support of many libraries in schools is still unsatisfactory in this country - measured against the standards in Scandinavian and Anglo-American countries. Although their presence in everyday school life is increasing in the public eye, they often lead a shadowy existence. Although not fundamentally questioned, unfavorable framework conditions and conflicts of competence lead to an extremely heterogeneous school library landscape. While school libraries are often professionally managed branches of a metropolitan system in large cities, the organisationally independent school library predominates in medium-sized and small cities, which are usually organized and managed by teachers on a part-time basis and run on a voluntary basis in everyday practice by students, parents and other semi-skilled workers become. It is worthy, but also sobering from a professional point of view, that around 90% of the estimated more than 8,000 school libraries and mediotheques nationwide can only fulfill their task through civic engagement of part-time and voluntary workers.

Wherever adequate financial, human and spatial resources are available, school libraries fulfill important cultural functions as information centers, classrooms, communication platforms, cultural centers, also as centers for media productions, and for leisure activities and reading promotion. Thanks to the increase in all-day schools and regular afternoon classes, school library concepts are coming to the fore, in which the facility positions itself as a place of learning as well as a place of relaxation and care. It would be new to place it even more strongly as a cultural location, for example through:

  • joint events by the community library and school library such as author readings, cabaret and puppet theater performances,
  • Expansion as an attractive one Forum for lectures, discussions, exercises, etc. or
  • Early and regular use of inventory and space in the context of teaching the subjects of art, music, German, e.g. with a theater and literature group.


"Cultural education is the key to social participation and social cohesion", as the Federal Government Commissioner for Culture and Avoidance, Monika Grütters, emphasizes again and again (press release No. 234/2018 of the Federal Government). If at the same time cultural education is declared indispensable for the personal development of children and adolescents, then that can only consistently mean that all aspects relating to cultural education with good ideas and long-term campaigns, fair cooperation models and easy-to-use guidelines, but above all with appropriate financial requirements Resources and incentives for participation should be continuously monitored and promoted. Some federal states, such as North Rhine-Westphalia, are setting an example by declaring cultural education to be the core of the educational mandate in formal, non-formal and informal education (cf. Arbeitsstelle Kulturelle Bildung im Schule und Jugendarbeit NRW).

As everywhere, the declarations of intent should be followed by deeds: When expanding artistic and cultural education in schools, in extracurricular youth education and youth cultural work, as well as in the various cultural institutions of cities and municipalities, many more meaningful projects and actions should be initiated financially and organizationally. All cultural and educational institutions motivated to participate must meet and network on an equal footing with the aim of concluding practicable and fair cooperation models. The (public) libraries that are often forgotten in such papers are a natural part of this pact. In the age of falsified facts, growing populism and nation-state thinking, real trade wars and uncertainties about the consequences of the spread of artificial intelligence and robotization, this is no less of a challenge for libraries in urban and rural areas.