Public Library Amsterdam - ‘Experimental library location ‘IJburg’ grows out to be an example’

Public Library Amsterdam – ‘Experimental library location ‘IJburg’ grows out to be an example’


2017 – The Public Library in Amsterdam has 25 different locations in Amsterdam and more than 300 employees. The library realises that innovation is needed, because, in this time of digitalisation, the library isn’t really needed anymore to be able to read a book.


Social Innovation

The library’s general goal is to make knowledge, culture and information available for everyone. Besides that, the library wants to stimulate reflection, meeting and involvement in the city and neighbourhood. Neighbourhood-oriented working is the central concept of the new way of working in the library. In 2014 this way of working was first developed at the location of the library in ‘IJburg’ (Amsterdam) (the case description of this location can be found elsewhere on this website). The employees who worked at IJburg ran the location themselves and often came up with new services in collaboration with other organisations in the neighbourhood and people who lived in the neighbourhood.



The library location in IJburg became a success; the number of visitors grew rapidly and the library was very much involved in the neighbourhood. That is the reason why neighbourhood-oriented working, as developed in IJburg, is now being spread out throughout the whole organisation and all the other locations in Amsterdam. More and more the teams and team leaders become responsible for organising activities in collaboration with organisations and people in the neighbourhood. The teams are supported by some central departments, for example Programming, Online Services and Education. Since January 2016 the teams are composed based on capacity tests and the number of locations which are ran by one team is reduced from 5/6 to 3. The employees have more and more different tasks and responsibilities and they are more (directly) connected to the people in the neighbourhood.

The managing director of the library, since 2014, plays an important role in the development of this vision and in motivating and stimulating the employees and he makes sure that he regularly talks with the employees. In the process of implementation the team leaders also play an important role. They try to stimulate the employees to play an active and intrapreneurial role.



The number of visitors has grown with 12%, also thanks to the broader opening times of the library. The overall feeling of the employees is that the involvement in the neighbourhood has grown and that there are more and better relations with other organisations in the neighbourhood.



Korteweg, Mirna.‘Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam– ‘Experimenteerbieb IJburg groeit uit tot voorbeeld’. 2017. Rotterdam, Erasmus University & Leiden, TNO. The full case description (in Dutch, pdf) is attached.


Theme: Intrapreneurship

Sector: Public Service

Source: Case