Public libraries in the Netherlands will receive millions of euros in additional funding in the coming years. Significant investments are also being made in the Dutch online Library. In addition, municipal authorities will have to ensure that there is a library facility in every municipality. This is stated in the ‘libraries letter’ released by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science on November 4th 2022.

A library in every municipality

The structural increase in funding for libraries was announced on Budget Day. This is officially confirmed in the libraries letter by State Secretary Gunay Uslu (Culture and Media). The letter also clearly states exactly what libraries should use the money for:

  • Libraries should be opened in municipalities that do not yet have one. These should be future-oriented.
  • Municipalities will have a duty of care to ensure that residents can continue to use the libraries in the future.
  • The online Library needs to be expanded. The National Library of the Netherlands (KB) is responsible for the online Library.

The ministry has reserved 29.7 million euros for this for the coming year. This will increase to an annual amount of 58.7 million euros from 2025.

Proud of the collective result

The KB welcomes the ministry’s decision. Director General Lily Knibbeler: “We are delighted that libraries are going to receive millions more euros in funding. Libraries can put that money to good use to do even more for citizens, for example by improving literacy and digital skills or by offering continuous learning opportunities . The Netherlands Association of Public Libraries (VOB), the Partnership of Provincial Support Institutions (SPN) and the KB have worked hard to advocate for a future-oriented library facility in every municipality, and we are very proud of the result of these collective efforts.”

Klaas Gravesteijn, director of the Netherlands Association of Public Libraries (VOB) agrees. “Following a long period of cutbacks, we welcome the investments in and recognition of the sector. This is a huge boost that will allow us to increase the library’s social impact. I am confident that this will enable us to achieve our ambition of providing everyone in the Netherlands with access to a future-oriented library facility by 2025.”

Enhancing the online Library

As well as the additional funding allocated to public libraries, the KB will receive 5 million euros a year to enhance the online Library. An additional 8 million euros will be added to this in 2023 and 2024.

Lily Knibbeler: “It is not only important that everyone in the Netherlands has a good library close by, but also that people can read and listen to books digitally anywhere and at any time. The online Library provides this facility. This investment will enable us to further improve the online Library, thus also promoting pleasure in reading.”