The “Public Library of the Year” award is presented by IFLA (International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions) with the aim of honouring new public libraries. Systematic is a proud main sponsor of the award.

The award is presented to a library somewhere in the world, that has best managed to combine open and functional architecture with sustainable and creative IT solutions and has included both digital developments and local culture.

To be eligible for the award, the library must be newly built, have added a significant extension, or located in a building, that have not previously been used as a library.

The award ceremony will take place at the IFLA WLIC 2023, which takes place in Rotterdam, Netherlands from 21-25 August. The winner of the award receives $ 5,000.

To qualify in 2023, the library must be built and opened between 1 January 2022 and 31 December 2022.

Current call for submissions

You can apply for the award from 21 February until 23 April 2023. Use the online application form to enter. The link will be accessible from 21 February. Stay tuned!

Assessment criteria

The following six criteria constitute the assessments performed by the international jury:

  1. Interaction with the surroundings and local culture: Including how the architecture reflects – or considers – the local culture of the community. How it provides visibility in the urban landscape and interaction with surrounding buildings and open spaces. Does the library serve as a driver of connections or movements in the local context? Can the library function as a “living room” for the community with access for all?
  1. Architectural quality: Including how each space of the library works in terms of functions and logistics. How is the architectural concept implemented and designed on different scales within the building? How does the architecture affect the library user experience?
  1. Flexibility: Including how the library spaces are designed and organized to inspire the users’ own activities and support new activities and synergy across various spaces of the building. Can the library spaces be easily modified and used for various functions and activities? For example, does the library include special areas such as makerspace facilities for workshops, a stage or study facilities? How are these used?
  1. Sustainability: Including how sustainability principles have been incorporated into the library design and operations, such as by reducing the quantities of resources used, using local materials in the construction process, using renewable energy resources, or minimizing ongoing operational costs etc.
  1. Learning & social connection: Including how the library offers a diversity of pathways to education and how the interior supports the development of individual, social, cultural, and economic needs. How does the library appeal to different demographics, age groups and encourage various learning formats or co-creation? How does the learning spaces of the library interact with the rest of the building?
  1. Digitisation & technical solutions: Including how digital communication and the accessibility of the library content are integrated within the library space, using methods that include mobile technologies. How are design, aesthetics and interaction used as the basis for this digitisation? Has technology been used in any innovative and creative ways to create experiences for the library users within the building?
  1. How does the library reflect the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and IFLA’s Global Vision: Please add reference-specific SDGs where relevant.

See also: Frequently Asked Questions

Jury

The jury consists of the following members:

Members of the Public Libraries Section (IFLA):

  • Chairman: Jakob Guillois Lærkes, Library Director, Gladsaxe Municipal Libraries, Denmark.
  • Sander van Kempen, Senior Adviser, KB, National Library of the Netherlands, Netherlands.
  • Raneetha Rajaratnam, Deputy Director of the National Library of Singapore, Singapore.

Members of the Metropolitan Libraries Section (IFLA):

  • Mathilde Servant, Project manager for innovative services – Library network of Paris, France.
  • Flippie van der Walt, District Library Manager for the City of Cape Town, South Africa.

Members of the Library Buildings and Equipment Section (IFLA):

  • Marian Morgan Bindon, Manger, Library Service, OxfordShire County Council, United Kingdom.
  • Santi Romero Garuz, Architect in Barcelona, Spain.

Questions about the award should be directed to Julie Broch-Mikkelsen: ploty.award@gmail.com

Previous Award winners