As anybody in the land of Angry Birds knows, one is never too young or too old to play games. This goes for computer and board games alike. In Denmark, public libraries are trying to get out of the traditional way of segmenting target groups along the usual lines of age. The Main Library of Aarhus is promoting computer games and gaming culture through a 3-year project called Gaming – when the library plays along. As the library remarks, it is not only 17-year -old boys who play, but women at 41 or 29-year-old males as well. Games as a medium appeal to a wide range of users from all layers of society, in all ages, both male and female. To reach all the game enthusiasts, libraries are using different media and varying strategies for communication: local newspapers as well as social media.
Danmarks biblioteker 2011:1
Cultural dockyard and library beacons
In the coastal city of Helsingør the main library located in the Cultural Dockyard is the brightest beacon of the town with its spacious premises and seven-days-a-week opening hours. It is by no means the only library, though, as the four other public libraries all have their distinct local profiles and identities. Apart from the five library buildings, users can pick up and return their loans at the Cultural Centre at Ålsgårde. This means that practically all 61,000 inhabitants have a library near their home. One of the four smaller libraries serves an area with a relatively high proportion of immigrants. The library runs a popular information and homework help café with the help of eleven volunteers. Another library functions as a family library, where members of staff visit local families with small children with books as presents. The position of the Espergærde Library between the station and midtown is central. It is a well-visited building with an exhibition space which is constantly in great demand. The fourth library in Hornbæk is located in an area where the popu- lation doubles during the summer months. The library also houses the municipal tourist information. Cooperation with local businesses is active. By profiling the five libraries in a different way to serve local needs, the library network caters for all citizens.
Danmarks biblioteker 2011:2
The best ideas often seem self-evident afterwards, and don’t necessarily cost a lot. Such is the DigiThursday series of meetings in Helsinki, where you can take part in real life or online, in realtime. Some of the meetings you can also watch online afterwards. A few enthusiastic and energetic library professionals came up with the idea of like-minded, IT-interested people meeting regularly to discuss new developments and exchange thoughts also with professionals outside the library sphere. The unofficial rendezvous are meant to be thought-provoking with no set agenda other than a presentation or two around a theme decided within the DigiThursday Facebook group. The 110 (and counting) members of the group diligently post links, self-produced abstracts on papers and transcripts of conferences on Facebook. Current members are encouraged to invite new participants to the group and the meetings which take place on the last Thursday of the month, in the evening after office hours. Most of the members come from public libraries in the metropolitan region but also from the National Library, the Parliament Library, other special and academic libraries and munici- palities elsewhere in Finland. So far, the meetings have covered topics such as digitising library, archive and museum materials, understanding customer behaviour on the web, different aspects of gaming, innovative web- based services at libraries and open source applications and open data.
“Libraries one of the cleverest man-made inventions” say Finnish parliamentary candidates
A plea for increased public library funding resulted in 150 responses from candidates in the parliamentary elections. The Finnish Library Association sent out a plea for a 90 million euro increase in public library funding during the weeks leading up to the elections. The majority of the responses came from candidates for the Greens of Finland (50) and the Left Alliance (40) while none of the Social Democrats or the True Finns sent a comment. Most of the candidates agreed on the meaning of the public library as a backbone, supporter and catalyst for culture and education as well as for information literacy. Many also took up the importance of the libraries for the national economic competitiveness. “Public libraries support and contribute to communality, awareness and knowledge of culture, the information society and creativity.”
Libraries add value in society
The Norwegian Library Association reminded politicians of how public libraries create and provide for cultural experiences, big and small, every day, by sending a letter to all the government parties. The letter pointed out that library users are not only pupils, students and senior citizens but libraries are also used by e.g. local businesses. The motivation especially appealing to most politicians is probably the economic one: every single day of the year the public libraries of Norway generate a return on investment at 14 million crowns in the form of compe- tencies, knowledge and culture.
On poetry and the publicity around it
The Public Library, Folkebiblioteket, is the succinct name for a series of presentations, readings, discussions and publications organised by the publishing house Attåt and the DeichmanskeLibrary. Authors, critics and publishers from Oslo talked about poetry and the publicity around it. Attåt printed an edition of 200 copies of the presentations and later on published an edited version of transcripts from the public discussions. The texts are also available at www.folkebiblioteket.com. What better way to make discussion around poetry public!
Nye Deichman blog
How do children read?
The Swedish Library Association has commissioned a report on children’s reading habits and skills and the role of the library in promoting children’s reading.
One of the outcomes of the report, where a hundred 10-year-olds were interviewed, was that librarians need to work with the children both when they are reading for pleasure and when they are reading to learn. Library staff have to know what they are up against, they have to become familiar with the whats, wheres, whys and why-nots of children’s reading.
This is how it can be when it’s good: You get sucked into a world that doesn’t really exist. You lose touch with everything else. You can even sit in the classroom without anything disturbing you. There’s noise all around but you’re not disturbed when you’re reading as one of the interviewees put it.
Food for thought and body under the same roof
The library of Lidhult will move in with the local supermarket next year. The current premises will be taken over by a big company and the original plan was to move the library into the same building as the local school, which would have been the usual deal. As the school was out of the way for the users, the municipality, together with the supermarket, decided to renovate the premises to offer a more central site for the public library. All is well that ends well, for the library will now have a café, and share the premises with thetourist office and the citizens’ office in a central location.
Freelance Library Specialist
paivi.jokitalo AT helsinki.fi