The Europe Challenge Back

The Europe Challenge

The Europe Challenge addresses some of Europe’s pressing challenges in a networked way, by working with libraries across Europe.


“The library is among the most critical forms of social infrastructure that we have”- from Erik Klinenberg’s ‘Palaces for the People’

The Europe Challenge is a collaborative process with public libraries across Europe and their communities to identify and address some of Europe’s pressing challenges that are relevant both for the local contexts and on a European level. The libraries are facilitated to work together in a European network, and share practices and approaches to tackle the identified local challenges. The Europe Challenge seeks to provide local experiences with a European connection and relevance. With 65.000 public libraries across Europe, there is a wealth of safe public, cultural spaces that are serving as physical and online centres where people with all kinds of backgrounds have access to curated knowledge and experiences and are invited to participate. The Europe Challenge will also strengthen the position of the public libraries as relevant, safe and open public spaces in Europe.

In February 2021, together with Amsterdam Public Libraries (OBA), and in collaboration with Public Libraries 2030 and Democratic Society, we kicked off the development of the Europe Challenge 2021: How do different communities around Europe contribute to the building of public spaces and engage in democratic conversations.

The Europe Challenge engages and enables libraries and their communities to redesign the current and future meaning of public space, together with diverse communities from across Europe. The participating libraries are The Amsterdam Public Libraries OBA (NL), DOKK1 Aarhus Public Library (DK), Central and Regional Library Berlin (DE), De Krook Ghent (B), Kranj City Library (SLO) Tordi Rubio i Balaguer Library (Sant Boi, ES) and Valmiera Public Library (LV).

"Clubs, libraries and youth centres are vital to our lives as we move out of lockdown– too often we see them as ornamental extras rather than as the essential building blocks of an engaged society. - Kenan Malik, The Guardian.

Concretely, the participating public libraries and their communities will together design and implement a Europe-wide programme of activities that engage citizens in shaping and imagining a European public space, working on concrete challenges that are relevant for their local context. This is our approach to addressing the future of Europe in a systemic way: by listening and working with the citizens where they are, by using existing cultural public infrastructure and in this way aiming to have an impact well beyond ECFs resources and location.

Together we kicked off the Europe Challenge 2021 on the 9 May 2021, Europe Day. Issues such as literacy, city biodiversity, digital citizenship and women & technology, public health & artificial intelligence, democracy, inclusion & equal rights, and the reinvention of our public space are among the themes that were addressed by the participating libraries and their communities.

To help great ideas become realities, we pull resources for the 2021 Europe Challenge Future Fund that will award funding to the best solutions for Europe in the beginning of 2022.

Want to know more or support this initiative? Write us at ask@culturalfoundation.eu