Århus Public Libraries are experimenting with hybrid learning environments and the library’s future role as open learning space in the knowledge society.The project, which is supported financially by the Danish National Library Authority, seeks to involve the user in the search for materials and to encourage him to take an active part in the search process on the Internet or in databases, thus enabling him to find for himself the material most relevant to him, helped on his way by the librarian. The user’s role as actively learning instead of service-demanding borrower radically changes the role of the librarian in the library. Pedagogical insight and good verbal communication present new challenges – not only must the librarian be able to teach and instruct, but the user also has to be convinced of the necessity for him to learn new skills.
Sweden reorganises – a flatter structure
“We are now breaking up the structure”, says Gunnar Sahlin, national librarian at The Royal Library. “The responsibility for enabling the units in the library to work with greater forcefulness, is being moved down. There will be fewer units, but the idea is that they should not be split up, but lie like pearls on a string in the organisation.” Efficiency, coordination and better communication with the surrounding world are the operative words. A new information unit has been created as well as two new positions as development coordinator and international coordinator.
The Royal Library is in a re-organisation process. The Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs is following suit, likewise going for a flatter structure and greater efficiency. The Council aims for better coordination of the tasks, and the department for literature and library are included in a larger department which covers all the arts. Is this now going to mean that library issues increase their impact – or are they going to be overshadowed by other areas?
In terms of the annual budget, it seems that the Council has in fact consolidated its position, and it looks as if it will get a freer hand in distributing the money. As head of department, Birgitta Modigh, observes, “There is a lot of money there, but it is essential for the libraries to be at the forefront”.
Freedom of expression: A constitutional social task?
On 29. October a new § 100 came into force in the Norwegian constitution as a result of the work done by the freedom of expression commission. Robert Waagan, associate professor, Dept. of Journalism at Oslo University College, describes the importance of this work and finds that the new § 100 confirms the libraries’ social task, (section 7). The Norwegian constitution from 1814 stated in § 100: “There must be freedom of the press”. The new § 100 from 2004 states that “there ought to be freedom of expression”. The argument in favour of the new act was that the old one was not entirely clear. The new § 100 includes the legal basis for freedom of expression. The new section 7 deals with the infrastructure obligation that requires public authorities “to create the conditions for an open and enlightened public discourse” and this is where the libraries come in. Together with education authorities and education institutions, newspapers and publishers, the libraries are important players as well as suppliers of knowledge, information and diversity.With its free access to information the library is one of the institutions that make up the infrastructure of freedom of expression – and here the gratis principle is implicit.
Translated by Vibeke Cranfield