zwei Personen stehend; auf dem Boden die Wörter "Passion led us here"

About us

Our history

Education for all. Rights from the start.

The Munich Public Library has been around for more than 170 years. It is one of the most important cultural institutions in the state capital.

The course for its current success as the largest municipal library system was set by Hans Ludwig Held, who, in 1923, presented a concept for building a library that is open to everyone. Deprived of his position as library director by the National Socialists, however, he only succeeded in implementing it after the end of the war.

The writer and political activist Carl Amery also set the course for the development of the Munich Public Library. He took office as director in 1967 with a plan to transform the library into a “real utopia” where expertise and imagination would meet. This vision has become a guideline for the development of the Munich Public Library’s collection and programme concept. Today, it considers itself a central institution of cultural education, lifelong learning and intercultural openness.

The travelling library

In 1928, the city library director Hans Ludwig Held surprised not only the people of Munich, but also library professionals with a coup called the “travelling library”. Since then, a modern tram car, equipped with a range of products tailored to the respective neighbourhood, has travelled across the city to supply even the more distant neighbourhoods with reading material. Today, five Library Buses are in use for this purpose.

The Vision of the Munich Public Library

In 2015, the Munich Public Library embarked on a participatory and extensive visioning process to develop the strategic guidelines for the next five years together with its staff. The resulting Vision 2020 captured the mission of the Munich Public Library in succinct terms. There was no question that work would continue on and with this vision: at the service meeting on 27 January 2020, the plan for the update to Vision 2025 was presented.

Our vision

Right here – Library 2025

The diversity of the people in Munich is our mission and motivation.
We open spaces for everyone.
We are at the pulse of the city and actively moderate meetings, discussions and debates. In this way, we promote new forms of social participation.
We are a learning institution. We also see crises and controversies as an opportunity to develop.
We support the people of Munich in mastering societal change.
We clearly stand for cultural and democratic education. Sustainability forms the basis for our actions.
Together with the people of Munich, we are shaping the city’s library.
The Munich Public Library. That’s my kind of place.

Education for all

The Munich Public Library views itself as a central institution of culture and lifelong learning, of international openness and of practised inclusion. As an urban network, it builds solid foundations for social participation and political opinion-forming, for people of all walks of life, ages and professions.

Based on our vision, we have defined focal points for our media offerings and events:

Democracy and participation

Democracy makes a lot possible, but it also demands a lot. Democracy allows for diversity and participation, but in return requires the commitment of each individual and must be defended against those who challenge this diversity.

The Munich Public Library is actively committed to democratic values, facilitates democratic discourse and strives to teach basic democratic principles in co-operation with numerous co-operation partners.

One of these partners is Europe Direct Munich, a joint initiative of the Department of Labour and Economic Affairs and the Department of Culture of the City of Munich.

The Europe Direct Munich team answers questions about Europe. From information brochures, events or contact persons to “Cinema Europe” or a workshop for school classes, they are there for you.

Digital transformation

The Munich Public Library monitors the changes that accompany the digitisation of the world we live in with a curious and critical view of the opportunities and challenges. At the heart of their digital engagement are the many and varied opportunities for exchange, collaboration and participation in knowledge, education and culture that a digital society offers to all people.


The concept of sustainability is multifaceted. What alternatives are there to today’s life and economic models? What makes ecological sense? What can each individual change today so that future generations can also live well? The Munich Public Library offers a wide range of services that provide inspiration for more sustainable thinkin and action – from waste advice and upcycling workshops to seed and plant swaps and loanable cargo bikes.

Beyond colour: Diversity and inclusion

Urban society is changing, becoming more and more diverse. We want to change with the city. The diversity of people should be reflected both in the staff of the Munich Public Library and in our programme, i.e. the media and events. Since August 2019, the Munich Public Library has received funding for this purpose from the German Federal Cultural Foundation as part of the 360° Fund for Cultures of the New Urban Society.

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