Scandinavian Shortcuts

SWEDEN

Publications to be excluded on quality criteria?
When the library in Falkenberg cancelled the two afternoon papers Aftonbladet and Expressen there were just a few negative reactions. The same thing happened in Lysekilde and many libraries have followed suit over the past years and nobody seems to have voiced a protest.

- If there is a demand for the afternoon papers, I think the library should stock them. Then the question of quality does not arise – says library consultant in LuleÃ¥, Detlef Barkanowitz. – You have to take into account what people want to read and not think in terms of what is good and what is bad. Neither in Finland nor in Norway has there been any debate on quality – one provides people with what they feel should be available in the library with no special regard to old traditions and culture. Some people consider the debate on the presence or non-presence of the afternoon papers in the libraries a kind of moral panic, drawing parallels to the banning of ‘unsuitable’ books during the 1970s.

Biblioteksbladet 9/2005

NORWAY

Norwegian language under pressure?
A dissertation on the value of the public libraries has attracted attention in Norway because of its only being available in English.

The Value of Public Libraries in Society is written by Svanhild Aasbø, Faculty of Humanities, University of Oslo. Using the method ‘conditional value estimation’ she has asked a representative selection of the population, namely 999 people, to estimate the value of the library, as the local library is in danger of being closed down in favour of care for the elderly and education. 94% of those asked felt it to be a democratic right to have a library in their municipality, whether one uses it or not, and they are willing to pay four times as much via tax in order to preserve the library if needs be.

Not many dissertations deal with the subject. Is it too much to ask that researchers should do all they can to communicate the results of their work? Asks Mariann Schjelde, library director in Ã…lesund, and professor Birgit Brock- Utne from the Pedagogical Research Institute agrees with her: – There is reason to maintain that the Norwegian language is under threat and that many universities and institutions of higher education contribute to this situation.

7/2005 Bok og Bibliotek

Translated by Vibeke Cranfield