»Digital Zebra« of the Berlin Public Libraries, a project for digital inclusion and participation

Responsible organisation
Association of Public Libraries in Berlin
Involved organisations
diverse network of partners
01/2023 - 12/2025

Berlin's public libraries are places of orientation for acquiring skills and of helping people to help themselves. They can also be this in a digitising world. The use and availability of modern devices, fast internet and digital services is often unequally distributed. Those who remain excluded are disadvantaged in many areas such as administration, education, culture, health and work.

With the »Digital Zebra«, libraries promote digital inclusion and participation in our city. We enable people to enter digital worlds and access digital services. This does not require new technologies, but empathy, knowledge and digital competence of the staff!

In future, the »Digital Zebra« will be available at 17 library locations in the city, where trained digital guides will offer support for 20 to 30 hours a week. Whether it's using digital access to citizen services, booking appointments with administrations or doctors, buying tickets for cultural events, e-learning or digital services offered by public utilities, health insurance companies ... the digital guides are there.

The Digital Guides are also happy to help with creating a PDF, reading an e-prescription or setting the ringtone on your own device. The offer is supplemented with workshops and other events. They serve to deepen and consolidate digital skills or offer space for sharing under the motto »Digital Together«, for example in the »Digital Café«.

»Digital-Zebra« is a project of the Association of Public Libraries of Berlin (VÖBB) and is funded by the Cross-Resort Community Initiative and the Culture and Libraries in the District (KuBiST) programme of the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).


The model project »Digital Zebra« is a learning project that learns from its target groups as well as from its network and cooperation partners. As part of a wide range of activities for the public good and the digital transformation of the city, we use forums such as those offered by the SmartCity and digital strategy »Together Digital: Berlin« to discuss and coordinate our concepts and to share our experiences and project results.

Our project creates a platform for dialogue and exchange on digital topics and technological developments in Berlin's public libraries. Citizens can find out about current trends, opportunities and challenges in the digital field, contribute their views and ideas and discuss them together.

The project encourages people to actively participate and, for example, train digital guides. This strengthens the project and empowers people to share their knowledge and experiences. Inclusion and participation in the digital world is promoted. At the same time, our project offers numerous civil society actors the opportunity to offer their own programme formats and events in the libraries. This creates space for diverse perspectives and promotes creative exchange.


The main goal of our project is to offer orientation in the digital space and assistance in using digital services with immediate added value for the users. We take care of the users individually by supporting them in dealing with their concerns, overcoming obstacles together and increasing their practical skills for solving concrete concerns. Through the free use of the technology provided, the project also contributes to the development of a public digital infrastructure that also enables socially disadvantaged people to access digital services and counteracts the consequences of digital poverty.

In addition, topic-specific workshops or social formats such as a »Digital Café« will be further developed and offered in order to deepen digital competences and enable encounters and exchange among users according to the motto »Digital Together«. This establishes flexible and permeable opportunities for competence development and further education as well as for discussions that make the concept of lifelong learning a practical experience.

For further counselling of users on technical, content-related or legal questions that arise when using online services, the establishment of cooperations and networking of the project at the respective locations is aimed at in order to integrate the competences of important actors, e.g. in self-help, contact and counselling centres, into the programme offer or within the framework of referral counselling on site. Through local networking, existing competences are bundled and can be further developed together.

The experiences gathered in the project will help to identify obstacles and challenges in the use of digital offers and services. This offers the possibility to further develop digital offers based on the needs and concerns of the users in exchange with providers, such as public administrations.

Project leads

Olaf Wolter | olaf.wolter@zlb.de | 0151-18853217

Jacob Svaneeng | jacob.svaneeng@zlb.de | 0151-72783616