FOPL members are members of IFLA through CFLA.

Public library of the year: The search for the world’s best new public library

In August 2019, the international “Public Library of the Year” award will once again be presented to a new public library – anywhere in the world – that best embraces key considerations that include user desires, local culture and digital development.

The time has now come to select the world’s best new public library for 2019. This selection will take the form of the “Public Library of the Year” award, supported by the IT company Systematic and the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA).

“The ‘IFLA/Systematic Public Library of the Year’ award showcases beautiful, innovative and practical new buildings that both illustrate and inspire us all in what it is possible to achieve. This prestigious award honours the best new public libraries,” explains Christine Mackenzie, the president-elect of IFLA.

The prize goes to a public library that is either newly built or established in premises not previously used as a library facility. The library must also have been completed between 1 January 2018 and 31 December 2018 in order to be considered.

Determined to contribute to innovation and development

There is USD 5,000 of prize money at stake, and it goes directly to the winning library. The prize is sponsored by Systematic.

“Modern libraries still play an important role in our society in terms of information as well as education – and we at Systematic want to support this. At the same time, we would really like to help strengthen the forces that drive innovation and development in this field. So that the libraries of the future can play an even greater role for people and communities around the world,” explains Michael Holm, CEO of Systematic.

The nominated libraries are assessed on the basis of six different criteria, including the extent to which each library takes into account digital development, local culture, sustainability and the users’ wishes and needs.

To be presented in Athens in August

The winner is found through an overall assessment of the nominated libraries and is selected by an international jury of library professionals.

The prize was awarded for the first time in 2014, in cooperation with the Danish Slots- og Kulturstyrelsen (Agency for Culture and Palaces). In 2019, the prize is being awarded in conjunction with IFLA for the second time, but still with Systematic as sponsor and provider of the prize money.

The most recent winner was the newly built KopGroep Bibliotheken (School 7) in the Netherlands, which ran with the victory in 2018. On this occasion, the jury emphasised the way this library – in addition to being a place for borrowing books – also served as a “third place”, where people can also work, read, take courses or participate in activities. You can even get married in the atmosphere-laden theatre, or celebrate a birthday in the Leescafé.

Presentation of the “Public Library of the Year” award will take place at the end of August as part of the IFLA annual meeting, which this year will take place in Athens, Greece. Applications to be considered for this coveted prize open on 1 February 2019, and it is possible to apply until 15 April 2019.

See application criteria and read more here

“Public Library of the Year” is an annual award presented to the best new public library in the world, on the basis of attention to user desires and local culture as well as digital development and functional architecture.

The prize is awarded in collaboration with the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA), and Systematic sponsors the prize of USD 5,000, which goes directly to the winning library.

Previous winners:

  • Public Library of the Year 2018: KopGroep Bibliotheken (School 7), Netherlands
  • Public Library of the Year 2016: Dokk1, Denmark
  • Public Library of the Year 2015: Kista Public Library, Sweden
  • Public Library of the Year 2014: Craigieburn Library, Australia

In 2015 and 2016, Systematic awarded the prize in collaboration with the Danish Slots- og Kulturstyrelsen. The prize was not awarded in 2017, but returned in 2018 with IFLA as co-organiser.