Cabinet wants to require a library in every municipality by 2025
State Secretary Gunay Uslu (Culture) wants to oblige every municipality to have a fully-fledged library. The minister will submit a law for this at the request of the Tweede Kamer.
The resulting law could affect 15 municipalities that, according to the latest figures, do not have a library at all or have libraries that do not meet all the requirements. To ensure that libraries are in order, municipalities will receive an extra 58.7 million euros annually from 2025.
The Netherlands has more than 700 library branches, according to figures from 2021 collected by the Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB). Nevertheless, there are 15 municipalities that do not have a fully-fledged library according to the definition in the Library Act. This includes municipalities where, for example, there is only a self-service, collection point or library bus, such as in Albrandswaard in Zuid-Holland and Mook en Middelaar in Limburg.
A motion by Mohammed Mohandis of PVDA, Lucille Werner of CDA and Lisa Westerveld of GroenLinks requesting that every municipality get a library was supported by a majority of the Tweede Kamer last summer. This is now being implemented.
Mohandis applauds the Cabinet's announcement, he said also on behalf of Werner and Westerveld. "A library is an essential facility that belongs in every municipality. People meet each other, something is done about illiteracy, homework is done and I could go on and on."
Municipalities will receive an additional 29.7 million euros for the libraries next year. This will be gradually built up to 58.7 million euros in 2025. In that year, every municipality must have a proper library.
At the moment, all libraries together have an annual budget of 450 million euros. This money mainly comes from municipalities.
Klaas Gravesteijn, director of the Public Libraries Association, sees the announcement as "recognition" for the libraries "after a long period of budget cuts." At the end of the last decade, considerable cutbacks were made to libraries, which as a result have "imperiled" them. Libraries still face many difficulties, and, according to the director, two out of three are short on money.
Reporting by ANP