Cologne Public Library, Germany

1001 - CLP Main-Entrance seen from lounge
Name of the Library: Cologne Public Library (CPL)
Parent Organisation: City of Cologne

Street Address: Josef-Haubrich-Hof 1
Postal Address: 50676 Köln
Telephone (incl Country code): ++49 221 22126108
Web Address:
Library e-mail:

Type of Library : Central/ Main Library
Population served: 1.000.000 City of Cologne / 3.000.000 Metropolitan Area
Project Type: Refurbishment
Size (square metres): 14.500
Date of Completion 1979
Architect City of Cologne

3D Printer
3D Printer

DescriptionThe main library is centrally located and underwent several renovations during the last years. It was part of a project called “library as a learning space”, where innovative learning settings were developped. It is a good example how you can update an outdated building with not so much financial input and a good example for a very lively and innovative place.
CPL is the very first library in Germany operating a Makerspace with an extensive programme. CPL is one of the most innovative libraries in Germany – especially with new technologies and accompanying programmes.
There has been a makerspace in the Public Library of Cologne since mid-2013. It soon became obvious that the makerspace attracts a community of people who are often not very interested in conventional books and media but are surprised to learn about the great range of things a library has on offer. The target group is not restricted to technophiles or geeks – the makerspace attracts people from all age groups who are open-minded and curious to learn new things. The emphasis is on doing things together. In this context, the 3D printer has proved to be an important tool, because it has made the world of designing things (usually only accessible to professionals) accessible to ambitious amateurs and has made people becoming aware of the makerspace. By now we also have a 3D Scanner, which enables people to scan things and transfer the resulting 3D models to the 3D printer. Patrons can digitize records at the Vinylbar, and it is planned to provide them with the possibility to digitize videos at the Filmbar.

CLP Makerspace
CLP Makerspace

The key elements of the new service are the events and activities. The programme is entitled „Makerspace – Programm für Selbermacher“ (Makerspace – a programme for DIY people). It includes workshops for ‘makers’, i.e. for people who want to be active themselves. After a short introduction library patrons can get familiar with various topics and try out various techniques – supported by experts, of course. These experts are either volunteers or people who get expense allowances. Taking part in these activities is usually free of charge, there is only a charge for the material. Promotion is being done mainly via social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Blog as well as via a mixxt community. The only traditional means of advertising is a flyer with a very modern and ‘cool’ design. People register online and the first feedback is encouraging. Many are delighted and surprised that a library offers such a programme of events. This has been profoundly changing the way people perceive the library and the image they have of it – the library is being seen as an innovative and modern place where to join in doing things.
At the start of the programme in March 2014 there was a choice of 20 courses. They range from an introduction into SketchUp to Arduino workshops and painting with the iPad.
This programme of events is being organized by the ‚makerspace-team’ – a cross-hierarchical team made up of innovative staff members from all age groups, who are happy to try out new things. All team members are also doing their regular jobs, no additional staff was recruited. They are all inspired by a fascination with new developments. We plan to continue steering this course, the programme will be updated and modified – the makers are the people of Cologne. The Makerspace project gets funds from the state of North Rhine-Westphalia as it is a pilot project.
Another new concept is called „Digitale Werkstatt – Programm für Einsteiger“ (Digital workshop – a programme for beginners). This is the motto for two-hour taster workshops on blogging, skype, tablets, podcasts, facebook, twitter, searching the internet, internet safety, digital photo albums and much else. What is special about this low-threshold programme – which addresses mainly best agers – is the organisational structure behind it: there are always two staff members in charge of a workshop and there are cross-hierarchical teams including trainees as well as library managers. We offer two series of workshops (about 20 workshops each) per year, in spring and in autumn. This means that each staff member in charge of a workshop has to hold it only twice a year. Staff members who were going to hold a workshop could choose a topic and took part in a ‘Train the trainer’ workshop. The focus of the taster workshops is mainly on trying out things after a short introduction. When a series of workshops is over it is evaluated and the programme is updated and optimised. Our customers can take part in the workshops free of charge. The ‘Digitale Werkstatt’ is part of the EU project „DLit 2.0“ in co-operation with the Foundation “Stiftung Digitale Chancen”.
Another programme to be mentioned in this context is geeks@cologne, which addresses mainly young people who are interested in new technologies. At a so-called Twittwoch (derived from Twitter and Mittwoch=Wednesday), people were offered UFO fizzy lemonade and talks on the role of social media in space travel. At a Science Slam young scientists were given the chance to present their topics and research projects for 10 minutes. Geeks in Education was about adding new aspects to the image of education. The librarian Eli Neiburger from the US talked about the advantages of gaming and his gaming projects in Michigan. André Spang, a teacher from Cologne, gave an insight into his iPad classes. At an event called “Webcomics – Die Notwendigkeit zu Bloggen” (‘Webcomics – the necessity to blog’) the participants could feel like comic bloggers. These are only some examples of this series of events, which is publicised almost exclusively via social media channels. The events attracted 80 to 250 participants, which shows that they were well received.

Awards, case studies, further information
Award: 365 Places to see in Germany
Further project:
Blended Library Research Project with the University of Konstanz, Germany


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