Recent Library Developments

Library Reform 2014 has been prepared by the Norwegian Archive, Library and Museum Authority in accordance with the assignment given jointly by the Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs and the Ministry of Education and Research. It is a comprehensive study covering the whole sector, consisting of public libraries, school libraries, institutional libraries and research libraries.

Libraries have a unique position as centres of knowledge for the community as a whole. The objective of the reform is to ensure that the library sector in 2014 is a network of strong and efficient libraries working closely together. They will provide reliable, relevant and up-to-date services, giving users access to knowledge, expertise and cultural experiences.

Libraries will be visible in the local community and will supply suitable services on the Internet for research and education. Libraries face considerable challenges. Adjustments must be made to meet the constant demands of a changing society. They must keep abreast of technological innovations and make an active contribution to the development of a knowledge society.

Providing access to digital material presents libraries with a huge challenge. Libraries shall ensure access to knowledge and culture for all the country’s inhabitants and shall assist them in utilising information to acquire knowledge. Libraries should also be a cultural and social meeting place with particular focus on literature and activities for children and young people.

Norway has become a multicultural nation and libraries have an important function in the work of integration and in making available a diversity of cultural expressions in many different languages.

Norway has many small libraries with limited resources. Library users in the smaller municipalities have interests and requirements no less varied than elsewhere, but it is difficult to provide them with services to match those available in the larger municipalities.

The circumstances under which libraries fulfil their community responsibilities have changed so radically that a new approach is now required if they are to meet future demands and challenges and thereby play a significant role as a partner in tomorrow’s knowledge society. In order to face these challenges, a reform is needed. There must be investment in collective services and a common digital infrastructure.

There is also a need for a special programme of library construction, new net-based learning facilities for the public and an organisational reform. The overriding task for library reform will be to abandon the traditional collection-oriented library with its emphasis on internal systems and move forward to a genuine focus on the user, a stronger library network and joint digital services. In Library Reform 2014 the Norwegian Archive, Library and Museum Authority presents the challenges and the possibilities, the overall strategy and the most important initiatives to be taken.

Grete Bergh
Senior adviser
Norwegian Archive
Library and Museum Authority

grete.bergh AT

Translated by Eric Deverill

A library development program

The third national Information Society Strategy, which covers the period 20072015, speaks of a renewing, humane and competitive Finland. Among national assets, it counts a high level of education and regional and social equality. Libraries are mentioned as “a special national asset”. Finland has the largest proportion of rural area in Europe. Only 5.2 million people populate the seventh largest European country.

Many urban dwellers would like to counterbalance their hectic city life with longer stays in the peace of the countryside. Less than five per cent of the work force work by telecommuting although there is potential for much more. Increased teleworking would reduce the load on the environment and energy consumption.

The Library Development Program 2006-2010 – the library as an integrated service centre for rural and urban areas responds to the proposal made in a rural policy paper to develop public libraries in rural areas into cultural and educational action centres. The driving forces behind the program include changing user needs and lifestyles, new possibilities created by technologies, and the aim to deepen regional cooperation. The developing industries, diversifying agriculture and tourism in provincial areas require education and information service in the same way as other industries. Distance working and learning, independent of place and time, are part of the future of provincial areas.

Public libraries in rural areas work in cooperation with the educational and cultural authorities. Librarians have to be information and culture generalists, while libraries on the other hand need more and more specialised expertise. Library users expect to get quality service in any library, whatever its size and location.

Centrally produced, web-based services level out differences in the capacity of regions, but a competent staff is an absolute prerequisite for all library development.

Library Development Program 20062010
- the library as an integrated service centre for rural and urban areas ult/OPM/Kirjastot/linjaukset_ja_hankkeet/ Librarydevelopmentprogram.pdf

Barbro Wigell-Ryynänen
Counsellor for Library Affairs
Ministry of Education and Culture

barbro.wigell-ryynanen AT

Retired, former editor
Senior adviser , Norwegian Archive , Library and Museum Authority.