Scandinavian Shortcuts

NORWAY

Paying more taxes – with a smile
It can be quite difficult to assess a public advantage that many take for granted. Nevertheless, this is exactly what Svanhild Aabø does in her doctoral thesis. She arrives at the amazing result that 94% of the population consider it a democratic right to have a library in their municipality – whether they use it or not. They are likewise prepared to pay more in tax in order to finance the library whose existence is threatened by cuts.

These are some of the observations in Svanhild Aabø’s thesis from Bibliotekutdanninga in Oslo. In her extensive study she has used the economic method ‘contingent valuation’ which is normally being employed in surveys of health, environment and transport. About 1,000 people took part in the survey and the conclusion is clear: Norwegians feel that the libraries’ existence and financing is a public responsibility.

Bok og Bibliotek 2/2005

SWEDEN

Crisis centre in library
Following the terrible catastrophe in South East Asia on Boxing Day, Sweden opened crisis centres throughout the country. One of these was in Vellinge Municipality – the location, however was unusual, namely the local library. Normally, the crisis alert is associated with the welfare office. But in Vellinge municipality it was decided to place it in the library instead. There were several reasons for this, says Kristina Sverdén who is responsible for Höllviken public library.

- The library is integrated in a building which also houses a nursing home, and the initiative for the crisis centre was taken by the Person and Family Care of the municipal authorities. It is the very first time that such a collaboration takes place and it worked extremely well, recalls Kristina Sverdén. There were several advantages in using the library in this connection. It is easy to reach, being centrally situated and the facilities in the library were more suitable to the purpose than were the social service premises. For example, the library had Internet access. Being closed during part of the period, the library offered the possibility of peace and quiet.

Biblioteksbladet 1/2005

DENMARK

Man in a woman’s world
On the occasion of International Women’s Day on 8. March, Bibliotekspressen in Denmark put the focus on men in a traditionally woman-dominated library world.

Ralph Knudsen, 54, started at the Royal Library School in 1973 when Women’s Lib was at its peak and the proportion of male students was a mere 25%. This put the men to the test: In order to adapt to the environment and the feminine revolt they drank buckets of tea and talked about feelings, he reveals.

- Women are often more modest than men, and their universe more uncontroversial, says Ralph Knudsen. A year after landing his first job he got his first male colleague. Ralph Knudsen feels that men are more direct, calling a spade a spade. But he does not feel that many years in a female workplace have spoiled his identity as a man.

Today the trend has started to reverse. From being a female-dominated training there are today 43% men and 57% women studying at the library school. This is a positive development, maintains study administration manager Peter Havnø: – There is greater focus on web and IT today. This typically appeals to men. But even if the situation is levelling out, there is still a difference between the students’ choice of subjects. The stereotype differences prevail. Typically men will choose computer subjects and women children’s literature – according to Mikkel Dyhrberg who is himself, in fact, a children’s librarian.

Bibliotekspressen, 5/2005

Translated by Vibeke Cranfield Selected by