Recent library development

The electronic community centre
Over the past three years, Jelling Public Library in Denmark has been developing an electronic community centre which has enhanced the library partly as centre in a local information network, partly as a place for formal as well as informal learning.
In a virtual and a physical space the project has been testing the possibilities and needs of a small library in relation to information technology. Jelling municipality has 5,680 inhabitants and one library with four employees and opening hours of 26 per week.

The basis concept of the project has been that information technology is the primary tool in the mediation o f local information to the municipality’s citizens. The development has taken place in close co-operation with the information carriers, typically associations and institutions, but also individuals and firms. The electronic community centre has 22 active homepages of associations, and about 30% of the business firms in the area also have a homepage here. The average number of visitors in the vir tual space is 1,900 a month, and the number of visitors in the physical space has increased by approx. 10%.

It is mainly users with no access to electronic equipment elsewhere who use the physical space where the library has set up an IT workshop with courses and support during opening hours. The users typically fall into three groups – children and young adults, pensioners and residents from a nearby asylum centre, but also other citizens, students and associations have used the workshop. A side benefit of the IT workshop is the contact that is established across user groups, so that for example the elderly get a helping hand from the young, and a group of boys have started a film club and arranged net parties. In this way a true and vibrant community centre for the entire local population has emerged.

Inger Frydendal

Translated by Vibeke Cranfield

Broadband in Norwegian public libraries
A recent report from the Norwegian Directorate for Public Libraries shows that 25% of the public libraries in Norway do have access by broadband today. This means that the users may access 13,771 “hours of broadband”at the libraries each week – or 10 minutes per inhabitant per year. In total 75% of the public libraries either have access by broadband or are planning broadband connection by the end of 2003. There is no correlation between number of inhabitants in a municipality and the fact of them having broadband access or not.

The last two years (2001 and 2002) the Norwegian government has granted 20 mil.NOK (2 641 485 EUR) to broadband in the public libraries. This may partly explain the numbers above. This special grant will not be continued in 2003. In all 41 projects have received public funding. Having access to parts of the Norwegian Broadcasting’s archives or a large database o f Norwegian music at your local public library are two results of the projects.

For more information on broadband in Norwegian public libraries: (only in Norwegian).