"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity": experiences from German Libraries
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In Germany, public libraries are regarded as public services funded mainly by municipalities. Municipal governments receive their share of general taxes but also raise their own business taxes and property taxes. In the 1980s, after German unification in 1989, and now again in the current economic crisis, there is high pressure on the municipality’s budget due to loss of business taxes and increase in welfare payments. The challenge for public libraries lies in the combination of less funding and higher demand for services, as well as their repositioning in digital age. Every library can improve its position with creativity, own initiative, solidarity and cooperation with other local institutions, good public relations and some knowledge of alternative funding possibilities. Some examples will illustrate how public libraries in Germany try to get alternative funds, improve their services, share resources and join forces to make the best of the situation.