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Model Libraries

Education, Information, Knowledge

Young people sitting at computers in the Planeta model library in Poland
The model library in Poland: Planeta 11

In the beginning, there was the model library in Gütersloh. It wasn’t about size or showiness, but “high rates of use at low levels of cost,” as Bertelsmann Stiftung founder Reinhard Mohn put it. The Biblioteca Can Torró was then soon created based on the same concept in Mallorca, Spain, as was the Mubarak Public Library in Cairo, and affiliate libraries in Bochum and Dresden. Customer focus was the key focus at all of these institutions. Finally, the Bertelsmann Stiftung created model libraries in the cities of Olsztyn and Wroclaw in Poland.

Gütersloh Public Library

Following its reopening in 1984, the Gütersloh Public Library focused on a number of key goals: promoting reading, reducing bureaucracy and operating in a manner that would be economically feasible over the long term. It had soon become an indispensible institution in city life, a major service-provision organization that also served as a cultural, educational and information center. The library’s success could be traced back to a number of factors, including its modern design, pleasant atmosphere, many possibilities for hosting events, wide range of media and the media’s clear organization and presentation. 

Next Step: Additional Branches and Outreach

Together with its partners in Bochum and Dresden, the Bertelsmann Stiftung spent five years developing up-to-date methods for creating library systems in urban settings and new ways of organizing and operating affiliate branches. This included methods for increasing public awareness of what libraries can do and the acquisition of new patrons, for example by addressing specific issues or target groups, collaborating strategically with local partners and developing new forms of marketing and communication.

Biblioteca C'an Torró, Alcúdia, Spain

Things are quite lively at the Biblioteca C'an Torró, since the library has proven quite popular with young people in particular. This multifaceted communications center is the result of collaboration between city officials in Alcúdia and the Bertelsmann Stiftung. Moreover, thanks to the Corporate Comparisons project carried out by the Barcelona-based Fundación Bertelsmann, its services have been evaluated and its internal processes streamlined based on findings from the evaluation. In addition, the organization’s Public Libraries and Schools project is giving it the chance to work together with local educational institutions. The results of this happy partnership are evident each and every day.

Mubarak Public Library, Cairo

The Mubarak Public Library, which opened in March 1995, was the first Bertelsmann Stiftung pilot project in the Arab world and was meant to apply the concept of up-to-date library services, which had proven so successful in the foundation’s hometown of Gütersloh, in a new cultural context. The focus remained the same -- achieving the greatest use of the available resources and concentrating on customer needs -- while the media, events and organizational structures were adjusted to reflect life in Egypt.

Libraries for Young People in Poland

Libraries for young people were opened in 2004 in the cities of Olsztyn and Wroclaw in Poland. The goal was to offer information geared toward specific target groups, improve reading and information-related skills, and promote learning and career development. Given that children and adolescents make up one-quarter of Poland’s population, libraries for young people are highly effective use of local resources.

Working together with the cities of Olsztyn and Wroclaw and the libraries themselves, the Bertelsmann Stiftung managed the project until 2007. During that time, both of the libraries were developed in a systematic manner and organized in a way to facilitate marketing and communication activities. The Bertelsmann Stiftung was then able to complete its contribution by carrying out a comprehensive evaluation of the project and by documenting the libraries’ operations in depth.

Model Libraries for Young People in Spain

The project’s goal is to create a state-of-the-art library that can serve as a centralized location for meeting all the information and media needs of young people between the ages of 16 and 25. Thanks to its focus on specific target groups, its use of modern business management techniques and its constantly updated multimedia offerings, the library is appealing, efficient and customer-friendly. Its state-of-the-art technology allows young people to find exactly the information they are looking for. In addition, its services promote reading and information-related skills while providing practical assistance in the areas of career selection and development.

Contact Gütersloh Public Library
Portrait Bettina Windau Bettina Windau
+49 5241 81-81138
Contact: Branch Libraries
Portrait Anette Stein Anette Stein
+49 5241 81-81274
Contact: Mubarak Public Library
Headshot of Leila Ulama Leila Ulama
+49 5241 81-81334
Contact: Model libraries in Spain
Michaela Hertel Michaela Hertel
+34 93 268-7444
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