DENMARK Reaching out for teenage users
A couple of years ago the Danish Rødovre Library became worried about the diminishing number of teenage users and started an inquiry into their use and knowledge of library services. Through focus group interviews and questionnaires the library got invaluable insight into the factors affecting the teenagers’ library use.
Sports were number one in their list of hobbies, spending time with their friends was also important. The homework takes up a lot of time, especially at upper secondary school level. The library also suffered from an image problem where visiting the library was seen as ‘nerdy’ and the library as oldfashioned and too grown-up. In addition, the 12 to 19-year-olds had only superficial knowledge of the new forms of library services such as Web OPACs. All of this applies to many teenagers and many public libraries of today, not only Rødovre.
After presentations and workshops for and suggestions from the teenagers, the library has been able to change its image, include the young in the planning process and prepare an ideas catalogue for activities. Design students from Danmarks Designskole have taken a look at the interior and furnishing of the library and made some suggestions for better accommodating the young who wished for comfortable sofas where they can relax in the company of friends. The new media were of course an important factor for them. The young also hoped for a space where they could do their homework in peace and quiet, they wished for creative workshops, literary and cultural experiences as well as professional and personal advice and guidance.
Rødovre Bibliotek (Bibliotekspressen 11 : 2007)
Goal-oriented, impulsive, potential and other kinds of users
Librarian Laura Winding has in her bachelor’s thesis and later research identified six different categories of library users, more specifically, borrowers of fiction: Her aim has been to recognise the best ways of mediation between specific user types and library materials. She has also taken a look at the total resources of the library, the physical, human and digital resources, and examined how these are used by the different types of borrowers. Whereas the goal-oriented user favours a specific genre or author and is not as inspired by exhibitions, the impulsive user would gladly borrow from an exhibition which presents books on a topical event. The impulsive user also uses the library web pages in a way different from say, the safe user: the impulsive users try different menu options and different media and would probably make new discoveries at the physical library if some of the landmarks and headlines from the web could be applied there. The majority of fiction readers, irrespective of age and gender, appreciate the possibility of browsing and the whole experience of visiting the physical library. In the face of the existence of these different types of users, the biggest challenge is to integrate the digital with the physical in an optimal way.
(Bibliotekspressen 10 : 2007)
User survey on electronic resources at Finnish libraries
FinELib (Finnish National Electronic Library), a service centre at the National Library, carried out a survey on the use of e-resources at Finnish libraries in April 2007. The survey was aimed at the end-users of university, polytechnic and special libraries/research institutes, and for the first time, of public libraries.
The aim was to survey what kind of electronic materials the students, researches and other library users need and how they make use of them. Altogether, 5,573 responses were obtained, 926 from public library users. Even if the public library respondents do not proportionately represent all user groups, some conclusions could still be drawn.
E-resources were used in equal measures for purposes related to work, studies and everyday needs (30% each). Hobbies counted for 20% of the use. Most of the public library respondents remarked that they could give up printed dictionaries and reference books or encyclopaedias in favour of electronic versions. They wished for more e-journals in the libraries but still wanted to keep the printed versions. Almost none of the respondents were willing to give up printed books. Fiction is an integral part of public library collections and the division seems to be clear-cut: the users want fiction in printed form and (some of the) facts in electronic form.
Libraries wax lyrical In the last Shortcuts I told you about the poetry panels at Riihimäki City Library. It seems that the poetry boom of the last couple of years is still going strong as dozens if not hundreds of libraries offer poetry readings, discussions on poetry and poetry writing competitions.
The Provincial Central Library of Lapland in Rovaniemi has a Poetry ‘Pääläri’ (=dialect for a milk vessel made of metal) at the library where the users can leave their own poems during the summer. In September the library stages a Poetry Rock event where the writers can either read the poems themselves or leave the recitation to professional readers.
Nurmo Public Library has produced a web site on children’s poetry with the help of a grant from the Ministry of Education. The site contains book tips and presentations, tasks and assignments on poetry for preschoolers to 12-year-olds, interviews with several poets for children plus children’s own poems and drawings from four kindergartens.
Keep the customers coming during the summer
A hint for a fun competition for keeping the users coming to the library during the summer: the five users who’ve borrowed the most items from Aura public library during June – August will receive a VIP card which entitles the user to free reservations of library materials until the end of May 2008.
Room for men at Asker public library
The Men’s Section at Asker Library
was open from mid-November to mid- February at the turn of the year. The service was based on an investigation into the reading habits of local males. The library received 80 responses to a questionnaire which formed the basis for the collection of 546 books and other media acquired with the help of a grant from the National Library Authority.
The Men’s Section was furnished with sofas and marketed by brochures and bookmarks. Four local men agreed to tell about their reading habits and present their favourite books in the brochure. The Men’s Section was indicated by shelf location in the library catalogue.
The library considers the Men’s Section a successful experiment. It was more of an exhibition but many users have commented that they would like to see it as a permanent fixture. The library was able to profile literature chosen for their male users and, at the same time, get positive attention from both media and users alike.
(Bibliotekforum 4 : 2007)
Library for lorry drivers
In Høydalsmo, between Oslo and Bergen, lorry drivers can borrow talking books and literature around the clock. The library opened in March and is the first of its kind in Norway. The premises also hold a bathroom and a gym. The Norwegian Transport Workers’ Union would like to see 6-8 more similar libraries established elsewhere in the country.
Tokke Public Library is responsible for the library which operates on selfservice. The drivers who regularly stop in Høydalsmo will get their own key to the library, otherwise it is the staff at the neighbouring tavern and petrol station who let the drivers in. Any users who have specific wishes for material can contact the branch librarian in Tokke who will see to it that the books are delivered to the Wayside Library.
(Bok og bibliotek 2 : 2007)
Mobile library serving users from small language groups
Göteborg City Library has committed to provide services for users whose mother tongue is other than Swedish, altogether 20% of the city’s inhabitants. The mobile library mainly serves neighbourhoods where the Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, Arabic, Persian, Turkish, Kurdish and Somali speaking users – or potential users, as many of them haven’t yet set foot in a library – live. The mobile library also visits preschools. The collection includes fiction, children’s books and non-fiction in all the above languages plus Swedish, English and Spanish. The biggest problem is that, so far, there are very few books published in some languages such as Somali. The library is hoping that the book bus will diminish segregation and draw new users. As a way of marketing the new service the library has arranged events with klezmer music, poetry readings, authors, storytelling, theatre etc. at the mobile library stops.
(Biblioteksbladet 5 : 2007)
Horse Power at Sollebrunn public library
Project Horse Power already finished a couple of years ago, but as the Norwegian Bibliotekforum recently wrote about it, I once again became fascinated by how ‘big may be beautiful but sometimes small’ can make all the difference: How does a little library in the countryside renew itself? By talking to the locals and finding out what their main interests are. It sounds simple – and can be if you listen to Sollebrunn Library in West Götaland who remodelled themselves as a ‘horse library’ during the Horse Power Project.When you hear that there are 4,700 horses in West Götaland it makes perfect sense that the library has acquired a significant collection of books and journals, DVD’s and CD’s about horses. The most important thing, though, is the willingness to listen to the users: what are their hobbies, who are the most important local cooperation partners, what is distinctive for the community? This is the way the public library can be made into a community anchor.
(Bibliotekforum 6 : 2007)
Scandinavian Shortcuts is selected by Päivi Jokitalo Licensing Coordinator National Electronic Library Services / FinELib The National Library of Finland