Scandinavian Shortcuts

DENMARK

Take the B Train to culture The six Danish municipalities of Albertslund, Brøndby, Glostrup, Hvidovre, Høje Taastrup and Rødovre are all situated along the same train line. This inspired the local libraries to join forces in cooperation with the transport company, and they are now able to offer their users free train transport to and from the cultural arrangements at the libraries. The first in a long line of cultural events attracted a crowd of 120, many of whom would not have been reached without the marketing effort partly financed by a grant from the Danish Bank. 40,000 library users were sent a newsletter and the initiative Culture on Line B also has its own website.
(Bibliotekspressen 5 : 2009)

Environmental friendly library

It is often thought that as recycling centres for books libraries automatically qualify as environmental friendly organisations. The town of Albertslund is the first in Denmark which can call itself 100% environmentally certified. All the municipal services and institutions, including the public library, have earned an environment certificate, and the services are audited both internally and externally on a regular basis. The municipality has a working group for environmental questions where all the services are represented. The library naturally acts as an information centre for environmental questions for both staff and inhabitants but the work doesn’t stop there. The library also works with a website, takes part in the Green Library blog and aims to take the environmental point of view into account in all the arrangements and activities of the library.
(Danmarks biblioteker 1 : 2009)

Speed Lit at Odense City Library

It is not only about the love of books but love through books when speed dating moves to the library. Following the successful events in Belgium and Australia, the Main Library in Odense decided to organise a SpeedLit evening with more than just dating and refreshments on the agenda: the hopeful participants could bring a book that has meant a lot to them to act as an icebreaker or set the tone of the one-one-one speed dates.What better way to meet new people than in the safety of your local library with your favourite book under your arm.
(Bibliotekspressen 3 : 2009 ; www.odensebib.dk)

FINLAND

Shop til you drop, then head for the public library

It could almost be called a tradition when Espoo City Library opened its newest branch, Entresse, at a busy shopping center on April Fool’s Day this year.With its 2,775 square meters the new library is the third largest after the shopping centre namesake libraries of Sello (Finnish for cello) and Omena (Finnish for apple). The library’s opening hours follow the business hours of the centre which means the library is also open on Sundays. Instead of sitting behind the reference desk the staff are easily approachable all over the library – and easy to recognise in uniform clothing. The users are not bound by desks either as there are laptops available for the use of the patrons.
(Kirjastolehti 2 : 2009)

A new joint strategy for Finnish public libraries

Nationwide library strategies are not unheard of but the way the Finnish Public Library Strategy is being written proves that social networking is not only for connecting teenagers. The working group appointed by The Finnish Council of Public Libraries has published a draft version for a joint strategy which can be commented and amended by anybody on the Library- Wiki platform. The proposed vision for public libraries in 2015 can be summed up as libraries being meeting places for people and ideas where users get inspired.
(Kirjastolehti 2 : 2009)

Revival of the sewing circle at a library near you

The staff of the Sello Library in Espoo wanted to share the tinkling of the knitting needles with their users and started a knitting circle at the library. Doing your knitting at the library means nobody has to make coffee or bake biscuits for the others, plus you get the added bonus of tips on the latest knitting books and magazines as well as on the services of the library. Now that hand-made beanie hats are trendy again, why not start a crocheting workshop for teenagers at your library ?
(Kirjastolehti 2 : 2009)

NORWAY

Wining, dining – and reading – on a Caribbian cruise

The library on the Explorer of the Seas cruise ship is a surprisingly popular place: the holiday makers wanting to get away from the hustle and bustle of the ship come there to do crosswords, play a game of cards but also to read. With its 3,600 passengers and a staff of 1,200, the ship is the same size as a medium-sized Norwegian town. The staff estimate that four out of ten passengers make use of the library, the total number of loans per cruise amounting to 1,500. It is pleasantly surprising to discover that a small basic library – or rather a book collection – can compete with a Broadway-inspired theatre, cinema, several restaurants, discos and cafés.
(Bok og Bibliotek 1 : 2009)

Multicultural library services in Northernmost Norway

Porsanger public library in Northern Norway has all library signage in the three official languages: Norwegian, Lappish and Kven language, a sort of old dialect of Finnish. Both the collection and the staff reflect this linguistic diversity and all the subject headings have been translated into all three languages.

The multicultural surroundings in Northern Norway are also visible in the municipality. Sør-Varanger which shares a border with Russia. The public library has been granted a subsidy by the Norwegian Freedom of Expression Foundation to develop ‘The Library Across Borders’. The goal is to turn the library into a meeting place and a democratic arena for the local community. The building of the Russian collection and contacts across the border started with the demand from the Russian seamen who came in to the library and asked for books in Russian while their boats were in dock. This induced the library director to travel across the border to buy the Russian-language books which now make up 25% of all book loans. At the same time, cooperation with the Russian colleagues has become more informal, more mutual and more important.
(Bok og Bibliotek 1 : 2009)

SWEDEN

Reading promotion for parents and children, through written and spoken word

Seventeen reading promotion projects received a government grant at the end of 2008 in Sweden. Among them was e.g. ‘Muhammad from Frostmofjället’ where the provincial library of Västerbotten will work with stories on masculinity in multicultural surroundings. Another project with a genderrelated theme is the ‘Bedtime stories from inside’ project of Malmö City Library. The inmates with small children are being instructed in narrative techniques and the meaning of books for the development and creativity of children. The end-product is a CD with stories they’ve read for their children to listen to at home. The local integration centre in Gothenborg will get some of Astrid Lindgren’s books translated and made into talking books in Persian, Albanian, Kurdish and Bosnian.
(Biblioteksbladet 1 : 2009)

The whole school reads

A lot has been written and said about teenagers not reading as much as before but the Sandeklev School in Bergsjo has to disagree. On the contrary, all pupils from 6 to 16-year-olds seem to be interested in reading and in fiction. The key are the activities planned by the school library which is an integral part of the school. The school has appointed a library council who meet once a week to plan the different events and projects. One of the most successful ones is ‘The whole school reads’ project. Every term, during a whole week at 9.45 to 10.15 am daily, all instruction stops while the children and all the staff – not only teachers – read a book. To make it even more inviting and cosy, a candle is lit in every class room. There are no exceptions either: the reading break also applies to P.E. as well as Swedish.
(Bibliotek i samhälle 3 : 2008)

Selected by
Päivi Jokitalo

Freelance Library Specialist