Recent Library Developments

The Royal Library
The National Library of Sweden
The hub in the Knowledge Society

The report KB – ett nav i kunskapssamhället (SOU 2003:129) was submitted earlier this year to the Minister for Education and Science, Thomas Östros. The commission of inquiry was instructed to look into the activities and methods of work at the Royal Library (The Royal Library in Stockholm is the national library of Sweden. Kungl. biblioteket is its official name, but it is generally known in its abbreviated form: KB).

The Royal Library carries out documentary assignments and service facilities aimed at collecting, preserving, describing, and providing effective access to all materials published in Sweden along with selected electronic documents, thereby fulfilling the assignments prescribed by the Act (1993: 1392) on Legal Deposit and the Ordinance (1993:1439). They are also assigned to undertake a national responsibility on issues pertaining to co-operative measures among research libraries. The report recommends, among many other measures, an increased collaborative effort between libraries on a nationwide scale, giving the Royal Library full responsibility for developmental and collaborative issues on the dissemination of information to all publicly funded and publicity available libraries. This includes all public and county libraries.

At present, the Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs is the public authority assigned to support and act as a stimulus to activities within the public library sector. The report also recommends that the resources, which currently lie with the Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs for the spreading of information, should be transferred to the Royal Library. Considering the depth and width of the Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs’ assignments, such advising requires further specification.

The decentralisation of higher education and the process of lifelong learning have signified the increased importance and clear-cut educational role of the public library system. Learning centres are an accepted fact in today’s society and collaborative ventures between the public libraries and the educational system are increasing. Numerous regions have seen the county libraries apply developmental work to bridge the gaps between public libraries and research libraries. This is done with the aim of viewing all libraries as one mutual resource.

The public libraries possess an unprecedented amount of knowledge pertaining to the dissemination of information to the student body, both within formal and informal methods of teaching. These are important prerequisites in the attainment of improved and an equally valuable flow of information, wholly in accordance with those recommendations presented by the report. But, seen from the citizen’s perspective, which the Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs does, a public library is viewed as the local hub regarding matters pertaining to literature, culture and education where the flow of information should be made available to all.

A lot is going to happen during the spring of 2004. The report will be submitted for consideration by the concerned parties, but even before the comments are put together, the Royal Library plans to draft a line of action concerning the dissemination of information. This draft will include both public libraries and research libraries.

Helena Kettner Rudberg
Translated by Jonathan Pearman


The Norwegian Archive, Library and Museum Authority’s joint presentation of library and museum statistics

The Norwegian Archive, Library and Museum Authority has recently published Statistics for archives, libraries and museums 2002. This publication offers a general collection of statistics for the Norwegian library and museum sectors and will hopefully be of use to all those interested in these areas. The publication does not include all reported data, further and more detailed data being available on the Authority’s home pages ( http://www.abm-utvikling.no). Many of these statistics can also be accessed on the home pages maintained by the Norwegian Central Bureau of Statistics (Statistics Norway) – http://www.ssb.no

The publication does not include statistics for the archives sector, since at the present time no such collected statistics exist. Establishing statistics for this sector is a pioneering task for the future.

The publication, in Norwegian only, is free of charge and can be ordered direct from the Authority (Tel. +47 23 22 75 00). It is also available in PDF format on the Authority’s home pages: http://www.abm-utvikling.no/publisert/ABM-skrift/2003/statistikk.pdf

Tertit Knudsen
Translated by Eric Deverill


Is there a future for Nordic co-operation in the public library sector?

Is there a basis or a need for Nordic cooperation among public libraries? This was one of the questions discussed at a Nordic seminar arranged by the Norwegian Library Association and Nordbok in Asker, Norway, in November 2003.

Representatives from various public library networks already in existence presented their activities, including children’s libraries, music libraries, mobile libraries, virtual Ask the Library services, PR initiatives and co-operation between the various national public library associations. However, this by no means covers all the networks that exist, which brought the seminar precisely to the next important question. How to obtain a complete picture of all the networks and their activities? Some of them can be found on the Internet, but several participants called for the establishment of a portal on Nordbok’s home pages.

It was generally agreed that there was a need for Nordic co-operation, particularly in the area of education and research. The Nordic countries are all relatively small and we therefore need to co-operate in developing good educational courses and in improving research on the development of library services and the best ways to spread knowledge about the library sector. A wish was also expressed to recruit more of the younger library employees to participate in Nordic co-operation. Exchange arrangements during training could well be a way to develop students’ interest in Nordic co-operation. A programme should also be established for the exchange of services, a challenge which would demand efforts from several quarters.

The Nordic countries are comparatively similar. This also applies to their library philosophy with its fundamental belief in free services for all. For this very reason the Nordic countries share a good basis for co-operation and could have a lot to learn from each other. They also have values and ideas which can be exported throughout the world. The Nordic community is not the whole world and several participants pointed out that it is important to receive impulses and ideas from other countries, both in and outside Europe. Our circle of near neighbours is expanding. Finland, for example, finds it just as natural to co-operate with the Baltic states as with the other Nordic countries.

Sidsel Hindal
Translated by Eric Deverill


Thai library in Sweden

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the visit by Chulalongkorn, the King of Thailand in 1897, the present municipality of Ragunda in Sweden built a Thai pavilion in Utanede, Bispgården. Today, the pavilion is a tourist attraction drawing as many as 60- 70,000 visitors each year, and a vigorous cultural exchange program has been established between the municipality of Ragunda and Thailand. An exchange which is about to expand with the addition of a new library. Thailand has committed itself to donating literature on a regular basis and Ragunda will supervise the necessary search tools required to enhance the collection’s accessibility to the general public and via interlibrary loans. The stated target group is the Thai-speaking community of Sweden, the rest of Scandinavia and Northern Europe as well as those with an interest in Thai literature and culture. The project is a close collaboration with the International Library in Stockholm.

Executive in charge of regional library planning. The Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs.
Advisor The National Library of Norway
Adviser, Norwegian Archive, Library and Museum Authority