NORWAY
The National Park Library in the local community

The libraries in Oppland County contribute to increased wealth creation in their local communities. Regional library plans have been approved in all the county’s 26 municipalities. They define how the libraries shall respond to the regions’ political priorities. The six libraries in North Gudbrandsdal are collaborating with various actors in their local communities on the development of a national park library in each municipality.

Oppland county library has been the main driving force in the implementation of regional library plans in the whole county. National Park libraries were included in the county library project The seamless library Oppland and this reflects how libraries can cooperate in new ways.

The National Park Library supports the objectives and priorities of ‘Nasjonalparkriket’ (the collective name for this region’s national parks), which is a regional business development project for North Gudbrandsdal, highlighting the tourist industry, agriculture and service industries. The tourist industry will develop a competitive profile based on the six national parks situated within the region.

The six libraries participating in the collaboration in North Gudbrandsdal are Dovre, Lesja, Lom, Sel, Skjåk and Vågå. The libraries in North Gudbrandsdal know that giving high priority to the national parks is important for the region. They want to participate in the dissemination of knowledge about the national parks and they pose the question, “How can we help?”

“Your hike starts in the library”

Using the slogan, “Your hike starts in the library”, the libraries have introduced a number of different activities. They are building up a collection of relevant literature, including digital resources. All six libraries have designated a special area within their premises for their national park section. The libraries also have a common logo and promotional material and they work together on marketing. They put great emphasis on sound advice and information about the national parks and the librarians participate in a network with others engaged in promoting the national parks.

The division of responsibility between the municipalities is set out in a cooperation agreement. In addition to the county library, external cooperation partners include the Regional Council for North Gudbrandsdal, which is responsible for a comprehensive development policy for the whole region. The library project has received economic support from the Regional Council.

Cooperation partners also include two national park centres providing information on the mountain areas.

The libraries collaborate with 20 tourist enterprises, hotels, mountain lodges and farms. The cooperation is based on agreements defining the areas of responsibility for the libraries and the businesses.

The tourist library – a continuation The collaboration named ‘Tourist Library’ involves having a number of relevant books available in places offering tourist accommodation in the area. This initiative began when the municipalities selected a number of places in the start-up phase. The tourist library is organised by the libraries, but developed in close co- operation with the hotel owners and is a good example of the collaboration between libraries and the private sector. The project draws attention to the competence libraries have in providing information in a clear and user-friendly way. Posters and brochures describing the ‘Tourist Libraries’ are distributed to places offering accommodation. The region experiences heavy tourist traffic throughout the year. Many different enterprises offering accommodation are represented, ranging from hotels, inns and camping sites in the local areas to cabins in the mountains.

Social media

The libraries are developing a project entitled The moun- tains in words – a digital mountain ramble. The object of the project is to further develop the national park library using poetry, songs and short prose texts in a digital database, which is about to be launched. The poems will also be available as podcasts (Bokpod). In ad ition Oppland Library Portal, the municipal home pages, blogs, face book and twitter will be used in marketing.

Developing the brand and target groups

Developing the brand is an important part of promoting the national parks. The libraries play an important part in this promotion and provide a vital source of information for tourists. The slogan “Your trip starts in the library” shows the important role libraries have to play in the tourist industry.

The libraries want to maintain a dialogue with the municipalities’ inhabitants, tourists, indeed everyone who     is fond of the Norwegian countryside and mountains, including industry, the media and politicians.

Cooperation

The libraries must see their own development in relation to general developments in society at large. This means that building networks and cooperating with other actors are important factors when libraries take on new roles. Oppland county library, through the project ‘The seamless library’, has built a platform for library development in Oppland. The libraries meet challenges by cooperating in new ways. Oppland county library has been a major force and collaboration partner in this work. Libraries cooperate across municipal boundaries to a greater extent than earlier. The collaboration is formalised through partnership agreements between municipalities. The agreements define mutual obligations and state what each library shall contribute to the common effort. This form of cooperation gives the libraries more clout in a regional perspective.

The libraries must procure additional new cooperation partners. ‘The seamless library’ emphasizes the necessity of a model library that supports modern society and meets its challenges in a regional perspective.When the libraries seek new partners, such as industry or other actors within tourism, these partnerships are also formalised by means of agreements. The cooperation must be binding on all parts.

The libraries in Oppland are forging new paths – and their key concept is cooperation.

Why regional library plans?
- Libraries must make important choices in connection with social developments and it is important to be able to adapt in a rapidly changing society.
- It is important to define strategies and develop libraries able to meet future challenges.
- Regional library plans are important political control mechanisms and give politicians the opportunity to influence library development. How do we use these plans?
- Define ways in which libraries can contribute to increased wealth creation in local communities.
- Develop convergence points; define division of responsibility and priorities.
- Emphasize network building with various partners and formalise cooperation in partnership agreements. Platform of common values
- Social responsibility
- Wealth creation
- Modern and forward looking
- Oriented towards local inhabitants
- Network building, participation and involvement.

Gunhild Aalstad
County librarian
Oppland County Library
Gunhild.aalstad AT oppland.org

Translated by: Akasie språktjenester AS

County librarian Oppland County Library