Scandinavian Shortcuts


Involving the young for better service

It is a known fact that teenagers are demanding library users: If they don’t feel welcome at the library they turn to other services and pastimes. Librarians in Denmark, Norway, Poland and Sweden joined forces with teenagers to get an idea of what 15 to 25 year-olds would like to see and do at their local library to feel appreciated. The EU project MEeting YOUth was coordinated by Århus City Library with Oslo Main Library, Stockholm Public Library and the Polish Ursynow Library as partners. Teenagers from all the participating countries were engaged in developing the library services during several meetings, one of which was a three-day workshop in Stockholm. Involving the teenagers proved to be a fruitful way of improving services for the youth. Several good ideas came out of the intensive discussions where the participants felt they really could make a difference (as one of the teenage delegates was overheard to put it to his mother on the phone). To get an insight into the everyday lives of the young during the discussions was at least as important as the concrete ideas for services. The Best Practices Report includes motivation for why the libraries should involve the young in the planning and development work and tips on how to do it. One of the most important outcomes of MEeting YOUth was the realisation that the best way to reach young people is through other young people. E.g. The library in Århus has employed six young people with different backgrounds to work with the library staff in developing services for 14 to 20 year olds. (Danmarks Biblioteker 2008:5)

Bookaholics unite in Odense

After getting requests for more English-language material Odense Central Library decided to invest in a collection of 1,000 English novels, mostly for a younger audience between the ages of 15 and 35. The collection includes all kinds of fiction and poetry from historical novels to chic-lit and classics. The Odense Central Library also arranged a Bookaholics event with poetry slam, presentations and fiveo’clock tea. All bookaholics can also discuss their reading experiences on the bookaholics blog at oc-bookaholic. (Bibliotekspressen 2008:14)


Election debates and hot line in Lohja

Lohja Public Library arranged a series of election debates during the weeks leading to the municipal election in Finland in October 2008. In the ten debates the candidates answered questions sent in by the inhabitants through the elections hot line on the Internet or by using a paper form. The constituents could address one or more political parties who got to see the questions a half-hour before the event. Questions could also be posed on the spot. Questions and answers were published the following day on the library’s Elections Hot Line site. A few days before election day a panel discussion on cultural matters was arranged with representatives from all political parties. (;

Talking books go live in Kemi

Kemi Public Library has started a new book club called ‘The Living Book’ which will revive the old tradition of reading aloud. A local teacher in Finnish literature reads a book every Tuesday evening with translation to sign language and an induction loop system to help the hearing-impaired. Each book is read from start to finish on three consecutive Tuesday nights when the stories can be enjoyed with a cup of coffee in good company. The Living Book Club is a cooperation between the town library, the Kemi Disctrict Association for the Hearing Impaired and the Kemi Adult Ecucation Centre. ( fi-fi/ammattikalenteri/uutisia/)

Philosophising about conscience, music and evil in public libraries

A coincidence or a trend? Either way, three public libraries cannot be wrong (and there may well be others I have missed). Helsinki, Jyväskylä and Tampere City Libraries all organised a series of philosophical talks and discussions during autumn 2008. Helsinki took up timeless topics such as the questions of conscience, altruism and charity. Tampere City Library was celebrating the 50-year anniversary of Finnish music libraries with talks on music and philosophy while Jyväskylä approached the topic of ‘evil’ from literary, philosophical and religious angles. ( fi-fi/ammattikalenteri/uutisia/)


New services for guitar heroes in Kongsberg

In a recent revamp of the music department Kongsberg Library acquired new equipment to create a space for concerts, talks and other events. Especially the young have taken advantage of the possibility to use the professional sound system. The biggest success has been the loan of musical instruments such as guitars and a fold-up piano. The library has already seen an increase in loans of music CDs – and in the visibility of the music library among the users and in the local media. (Bok og bibliotek 2008:4)

Library services for all from the housebound to the seafarers

In the little municipality of Hvaler the advantages of knowing your users in a small community become evident. The 3,900 inhabitants are scattered on four islands and mainland, but in spite of this fact and the small library budget, the public library manages to cater to several well-defined target groups. Once a month, the librarian takes books to the elderly housebound users who are no longer able to visit the library. The service wouldn’t be complete without time for some coffee and conversation during the house calls. Children have been invited to spend the night at the library with a programme, and the small library also houses a maritime corner with books on sea fare, sailing and the like. The patrons can even sit their boating exam at the library after having studied for it there as the examiner works in the same building. (Bok og bibliotek 4:2008)


Ghost nights and punk poetry at Swedish libraries

The Swedish Library Association got 215 applications for grants to promote reading among the young in autumn 2008. 100 applications were granted funding including events for different target groups from children with learning difficulties or physical disabilities to cooperative projects between libraries and schools or role playing societies. The library in Simrishamn will stage a punk poetry event with guitar music and song while the Solna Public Library will arrange a poetry writing contest for 12 to 20-olds. The Partille Library is going to organise a ghost night with ghost stories, spooky music and food. Every visitor will get a book of ghost stories to take home with them. All arrangements will be documented and descriptions and photos will be made available on the Library Lovers web site. (Biblioteksbladet 6:2008)

Scandinavian Shortcuts are selected by
Päivi Jokitalo
Licensing Coordinator National Electronic Library Services /
FinELib The National Library of Finland

Freelance Library Specialist