In recent years Grünerløkka public library has improved its collaboration with the local community by the creation of new services and an expansion of arrangements and activities aimed at our particular target groups. The library has also taken steps to encourage a variety of cultural partners to use the library as a base and arena for their work and presentations. These measures have resulted in more satisfied users who support Grünerløkka library and display a sense of ownership. In recent years Grünerløkka public library has improved its collaboration with the local community by the creation of new services and an expansion of arrangements and activities aimed at our particular target groups. The library has also taken steps to encourage a variety of cultural partners to use the library as a base and arena for their work and presentations. These measures have resulted in more satisfied users who support Grünerløkka library and display a sense of ownership.
The Deichman library in Grünerløkka is the oldest library building in Norway and since 1914 has enjoyed close collaboration with the local community. The library has been a natural centre for everything from political debates to arrangements for children. Early in the library’s history up to 2000 children attended certain popular activities. The former chief librarian, May Haakensen, has been a driving force during the last decade in establishing the library as a recognised cultural centre for the surrounding district.
NEW SERVICES IN COLLABORATION WITH THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
In 2001 the Serietheque was established as Norway’s largest library department for comics and strip cartoons. The department has an extensive national and international collection and is a natural meeting place for local cartoon creators and for all those interested in comic strips, whether children, young people or adults. The Serietheque presents a wide range of activities with exhibitions by local and international cartoonists. There are also courses where young people interested in comics and cartoons receive advice and instruction from local professionals in this particular medium. The department is coorganiser of the Oslo Comix Expo, a broad, internationally- recognised gathering of Norwegian and international cartoon creators. The arrangement takes place in the Grünerløkka library and in cooperation with several other local cultural institutions.
Cinema in the park
With support from the local council the library has set up its own outdoor cinema in the park directly outside. Films are shown in the spring and autumn and these arrangements have become an important neighbourhood institution. Often these showings are combined with a visit from a film director or some similar arrangement. In the autumn of 2008 we showed the film ‘Persopolis’ directed by Marjane Satrapi. As both a contrast and commentary to the film a concert was given by Javid Afsari Rad, a local inhabitant and internationally renowned Iranian musician. The Cinema in the Park has become a popular meeting place, where relevant matters of interest can be communicated to the local community.
Kinoteket is a digital film service provided by the Norwegian Film Institute and Norgesfilm AS offering visitors to the library free access to some thousand or more Norwegian and international film titles. Schools, kindergartens and the general public can make their own choice from the extensive archives which also contain important films of local historical interest. This material can also be viewed in relation to the Grünerløkka local history association which has the library as its base.
The Deichman digital workshop
The library has its own digital workshop where visitors can make free use of digital facilities such as video camera, audio equipment and computers to edit video, sound and photographs. Fine artists, film makers, stage artists and others are able to produce their own audiovisual projects in the library on the condition that the finished work is shown to the public. The digital workshop is also used in connection with a course for would-be cartoonists and with various initiatives for children and young people sponsored by the Cultural Rucksack, a national programme to promote art and culture in schools.
Collaboration with local artists and cultural workers
There is a long tradition of artists displaying their works at the Grünerløkka public library and in recent years several artists have held exhibitions especially designed for the library. These arrangements have come about partly by invitation and partly on the personal initiative of artists themselves. Per Jonas Lindstrøm has donated a striking wall-mounted installation which serves well as an artistic commentary both on the library and on the Serietheque, our department for cartoons and comic strips.
A further example is that of the stage artist, Claire de Wangen, who has received support from Arts Council Norway for a production directly connected with the Grünerløkka library. New histories will be created within the library’s many rooms, providing a total framework through which visitors can stroll in order to enjoy a theatrical experience. The performance will have its premiere in the autumn of 2009.
‘Fabelakt’ is the name of a story-telling group with its base in the Deichman library, where the members rehearse their performances and story-telling sessions. They also hold courses for selected target groups. Cooperation with the group enriches the library by providing our users with generous access to narrative art of the highest standard.
Local networks and partners
Grünerløkka library is a member of Løkka cultural network, which embraces those in the local district engaged in cultural pursuits. The aim of the network is to act as a stimulus for cross-cultural activities arranged and presented in a variety of arenas in the community.
In the autumn of 2008 the network initiated a project involving 150 pupils from local schools who produced 30 short films dealing with the theme of inclusiveness contra discrimination.
The Deichman Digital Workshop was used in the production and the result was screened at the Park Theatre, one of the important cultural venues in the district. This is but one example of the library cooperating with other local players in the cultural field in order to produce and promote projects carried out by children and young people. Local authority support includes a contribution to language development for bilingual children between the ages of three and six, resulting in a variety of activities such as theatre performances and concerts arranged by the library with this particular target group in mind.
The Oslo School of Architecture and Design is situated only a stone’s throw from the library. The school’s Institute for Industrial Design has developed new international methods for service design. The library has entered into a programme of local cooperation with the school aimed at the development of new library services and, equally important, the improvement of existing services from a radical user perspective. On the basis of close cooperation between our regular users and library staff we aim to introduce new services, while at the same time improving those that already exist, both here at Grünerløkka and at all the other branches of the Deichman library.
Our objective at the Grünerløkka library is to be an inclusive and challenging democratic arena, where everybody in the community can enjoy cultural events and experience personal enrichment. The library shall preserve the traditional values a library represents, while at the same time thinking along radically new lines in order to offer the quality services our users deserve. The success of this philosophy depends on close collaboration with relevant organisations in the local community.
Kenneth Korstad Langås
Head of department
The Deichman Library, Grünerløkka
kenneth.langas AT kul.oslo.kommune.no
Translated by Eric Deverill