Scandinavian Shortcuts


Face to face with a librarian in Copenhagen

Research has shown that face-to-face contact is more effective than brochures when reaching out to potential new users. This is why the libraries in Tingbjerg, Solvang, Sundby and Nørrebro operate an outreach service aimed at families with small children. In these areas of Copenhagen there are lots of families with another native language and background than Danish who may not be familiar with the services and collections the local library has to offer. The librarians visit families with newborn children, taking with them a book as a present. The same children and families will then be able to build a personal relationship with the library as they will get a visit from the librarians when the child turns one, two and four. During the visits – in addition to the books and stories – the importance of language and stories and a shared frame of reference before starting at kindergarten are discussed, and the services of the library are presented. Even though this latest phase of the Language Door project started in May 2008, the libraries involved have already noticed an increase in library visits and many of the families in the area have become active library users. (Bibliotekspressen 1:2009)

Health Café at Greve Public Library

Face-to-face contact is the key also in Greve Public Library’s Health Café where visitors can talk to a preventive health care consultant and ask for advice. The café organises theme days on healthy eating, exercise, common complaints such as back problems etc. By placing the Health Café at the library, the municipal health care system comes into contact with people they might otherwise not reach. The fact that the counselling is anonymous can also encourage people to approach the health care professionals with any sensitive questions they might have. A similar service is being planned and offered elsewhere in Danish public libraries and the general opinion is that placing the consultation units in libraries is a golden opportunity. (Danmarks biblioteker 7:2008)

Poetry on prescription

During the reading campaign leading up to the Book Forum book fair last year, Copenhagen Public Libraries and the National Library organised literary town walks, literary events and offered ‘sausages with poetry’ (a popular local snack).More in accordance with the health theme of the previous piece of news, the libraries joined forces with two pharmacies who offered ‘poetry on prescription’. Several Danish poets wrote new poems especially for the purpose and the pharmacies focused on the health effects of literature. The health impacts were also highlighted by author visits at the National Hospital and by broadcasting book readings on Herlev Hospital Radio. (Danmarks biblioteker 8:2008)


Finland – the country of song

Public libraries all over the country celebrated 50 years of music libraries on 8. November last year with a singsong from a series of song books that covers everything from Abba to hymns, and from operetta to folk songs. The first song book with piano accompaniment came out in 1976 and the whole series has been a permanent fixture at music libraries in Finland ever since. Tampere City Library started their evening of song with a lecture on how everybody can learn to sing – based on recent research – followed by vocal warm-ups. The sing-along lasted a couple of hours and during the last songs, the auditorium also became a dance floor. Similar events elsewhere in the country were all a success with plenty of songs to choose from as volume 19 of the series was published in 2008. (Kirjastolehti 6:2008)

Mobile library services at your front door

Before the public library of Leppävirta in Eastern Finland renewed the concept of their mobile library into a mobile multi-service bus they sent out a questionnaire to all inhabitants over 65 years of age. Based on the enquiry, information services and retrieval, medical care and postal services were seen as the most important service forms. The mobile library now organises theme days when health counsellors and professionals are available for discussions and advise along a route specially designed for the theme in question. Prescription medicines, laundry bags and even a few passengers can be carried aboard the mobile library free of charge.

In Lapland, the geographically large municipalities of Kittilä and Kolari launched the ‘Mobile library services at your front door’ project together with the Provincial Library of Lapland last year. The customers of the municipal home-help service can authorise the library personnel to run their library errands for them. The public library can then make use of the patron’s personal loan history in choosing the right books. (

The customers ask: is it ok to eat at the library?

Helsinki City Library won the Finnish Quality Prize 2008 in the category for the public sector and non-profit com- munities and the first prize for the Quality Innovation of the Year with the Library 10 which has been featured in SPLQ earlier. One of the motivations for the acknowledgements was the active, innovative and customer-oriented way of developing library activities, products and services. One way of listening to the customers are videos where library users voice their opinion on questions such as ‘should all libraries be open on Sundays’, ‘is it okay to eat at a library’ or ‘is the library a good place for a gig’. The videos are used in developing library services – and available for all interested on the library’s web site. (


Vik Public Library taking care of prison library business

The local library in Vik saw an opportunity when they were asked if the public library could also take care of the library services at the local prison. The state of Norway is aiming to offer library services at all the prisons with more than 25 inmates.With the state subsidy the public library of Vik could turn the post of the library director into a full-time job. They also saw the two libraries benefitting from the synergy in acquisitions and arrangements. (Bibliotekaren 10:2008)

The local library in your mobile at Stavanger

Stavanger Public Library offers library services which can be used on the customers’ mobile phones. The MoBib service makes it possible to browse and search the library opac, make reservations and renew loans on your mobile. Messages informing of reservations ready to be picked up and reminders of expiring loans can soon be sent out directly from the library system. All this is expected to result in a quicker collection turnover, especially when it comes to the most requested titles. In Finland, the public libraries of Hämeenlinna, Aura and Koski tested similar interactive mobile services in 2003 in a project called ‘The library on your palm’. Since the project started, the users have been able to use text messaging to browse their own loans and renew them. Several Finnish libraries have also been offering their users the possibility of receiving arrival notices for reserved items on the users’ mobile phones for a few years. (Bok og bibliotek 5:2008)


Library Lovers Events 2008: Children’s own book canon

150 school children were listening intently when their classmates presented their book tips which together with 41 book tips from celebrities became the children’s book canon in Jonköping. To make the occasion even more festive the chair of the municipal executive board wished everybody welcome and Dan Höjer, a children’s author, hosted the event. The 100 book tips were included in a folder put together by the public library which all the pupils got to take home. (Biblioteksbladet 9:2008)

Take advantage of the library at Fisksätra

At Fisksätra Public Library the library director encourages the users to take advantage of the library. The library has a workshop and an IT café for different kinds of arrange- ments be it music, theatre, talks or meetings. Listening to customers is important in Fisksätra and can translate to anything from a memorial farewell with music followed by a shared quiet moment in remembrance of a well-liked library user to a luminous tag tour in the dark under tables and chairs for children. (Bis – biblioteket i fokus 4:2008)

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

Freelance Library Specialist