Scandinavian Shortcuts


Cutting-edge libraries and town planning

The role of libraries in town planning and municipal development is being studied in a large research project at the Center for Cultural Policy Studies in Denmark. When cities brand themselves through art museums, music halls and mega events creating new and dynamic public spaces and hybrid arenas for culture, are libraries a part of the development? What does the new thinking demand from library architecture, interior design and branding? A central question is how libraries can become strategic factors in town development and a living part of the public domain in the future. This is studied through cases of cutting-edge libraries from Scandinavia and further abroad. The results will be published later this year.

Danmarks biblioteker 4 : 2011

Bar-code access to library collections

While browsing through the shelves in a bookstore you sometimes come across titles you would like to read but maybe not purchase for yourself. Silkeborg Public Library has come up with a solution which makes it quick and easy to check the availability of a book at the library by scanning the bar-code on your smart phone. You can proceed to make a reservation if the title is on loan or make a request for the book to be sent to your nearest library.

Perspektiv 6 / 2011

National broadcasting and public libraries serving tween users

The Danish tween program Ramasjang is broadcast every day at 6 pm on national television. Since March 2011, the Ramasjang Live cast has been driving in a bus across the country, recording the show at libraries. The project aims at marketing and presenting the services of both physical children’s libraries and the (presented in SPLQ 1 : 2010) web site to children between 8 and 12 through different kinds of themed activities such as a ‘Pimp your bike’ competition in May. Bibliotek og medier 2:2011 Everyday life in pictures The Royal Library of Denmark has published a collection of photographs Sven Türck on Flickr using the Commons platform which gives access to public photo collections. The day after the pictures illustrating everyday life in the 1930s and 1940s were made available more than 1,300 users had taken a look at the most popular picture, ‘Cycling on Strøget’. “Truly a beautiful set” and “What a perfect picture of nostalgia” are among comments from grateful users on Flickr Commons. A collection of portraits by female Danish artists is also available.


Börje, the reading dog in a blog near you

Reading education assistance dogs who listen to uncertain child readers reading books in libraries have spread from the US to Scandinavia. The first library in Finland to introduce the service was Kaarina Public Library in Western Finland. The first dog to have its own blog was Börje from Espoo. Börje is a Maltese who blogs about events in his life, the children he meets at the library, books and reading. As he was born in Beverly Hills, he has asked the children to write using simple sentences in easy-to-understand Finnish.

Mapping the library

Now it is easier for library users to locate travel guides or talking books by using an electronic shelving map of the adult section at the main library in Oulu. Apart from larger topics such as ‘travel’ you can search material by key words or classification numbers. The map is the first of its kind in Finland and includes 1,100 different key words. It is the result of cooperation between Oulu City Library, the city IT department and a graphic design studio.

Dreaming and reading

Turku, the Cultural Capital of Europe 2011, has been working together with several partners to organise a series of literary events which expanded from local into national during the darkest time of the year between August and December. How do light and shadow impact the space and meaning of reading? Is there a lighter side to dark melancholy? The theme of dreams,  insomnia and premonitions was studied from different angles in Book- Crossing, book circles, writing workshops and discussions. The In the Light of the Reading Lamp campaign brought elderly readers to the library to meet and discuss with authors and organised book talks at children’s hospital wards and at homes for the elderly. The Reading Lamp was part of the 876 Shades of Darkness program in the city.


Key to the library

Visiting the local library has never been this easy! All the 1,200 inhabitants over 15 of Dyrøy in Troms are entitled to a key to the library. One of the six test users of the service told that he visited the library twice a week to study. ”It is a great place for focusing on school work.” All users have to sign a contract to get a key card which registers your visits. The library may be accessed seven days a week during day time.

Bibliotekforum 1 : 2011

Ask a politician

The Buskerud department of the Norwegian Library Association sent out a short questionnaire on libraries to candidates in the municipal elections. In addition to getting information on how the political parties see the role of the public libraries, the aim was to make the candidates aware of the different functions of the library in the community. The candidates were asked what they thought were the most important functions of the library, what service form they would prioritise, when they had last visited the local library, what experiences they had of their local library, and whether their own party mentioned the development of library services in the party program. After the tragic events in Norway in July, the function of libraries in supporting democracy seems more important than ever. As one of the respondents put it: ”The library is an important democratising arena in Norway”. The same goes for any country.

Pop quiz with a literary twist

Choosing the favourite book of the whole city in Bergen is a long and fun process where library users and literature buffs get to meet in the library but also in other popular locations. One of the literary events builds on the popular radio program Popquiz. The quizzes are held in pubs and bars with a mixture of pop and literature related questions starting from the 60s, with topics from a new decade during every round. The library organises the quiz evenings with the support of the pubs, a local tele operator, local book stores and shopping centres, an ICT company, AFF, the leadership development research fund at the Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration, the Freedom of Expression Foundation and the Norwegian Archive, Library and Museum Authority.


TenThirteen – a library for tweens

On the second floor of the Kulturhuset cultural center in Stockholm you can not only borrow books but also cook, make films and radio programs, create music, sew or just chill out, especially if you are between ten and thirteen years old. The activities are not planned out to a tee (or should you say ‘twee’) but can be developed together with the users. During the mornings the library receives school classes. The afternoons are open to all tweens. The library focuses on four areas: Digital media, Body and Soul, School & Literature and Film & Music. The partners include several publishing houses and the national broadcasting company SVT also records some of its programmes on the library premises.

Biblioteksbladet 4 : 2011

Modern staff and uninformed users?

While library workers see good contact with users as the most important factor in library service, users themselves  value the expertise of library staff the most. Top factors for all users, frequent or not, include suitable opening hours, easily accessible library building and (book) collections. From the non-user viewpoint the order of the factors is more or less same, but there are less factors they consider very important. These are part of the results in a recent study made by the Swedish Library Association earlier this year. The report takes up the conceptions of library professionals, library users and nonusers, compares them with each other and with the reality of library services. Library staff tend to value IT and e.g. the library web site more than the users; library customers appreciate books over music, film and computer games.While 90 % of the staff believe that users feel welcome at the library, a little under 60 per cent of the users feel the same way.

Biblioteksbladet 4 : 2011

Observing and observant colleagues

As part of a larger training program on meeting the customer, staff from Stockholm Public Library and the library at Karolinska Institutet, a medical university, took part in a discussion group on feedback. One of the methods used was collegial observation where eight pairs of staff observed each other during three shifts at the desk. Afterwards, they gave one another both positive and negative feedback. The tasks and the user expec- tations are quite different at the two libraries: public library users expect more interaction and personal service from the staff while medical library users are usually happy to get help with the question in hand.

Biblioteksbladet 5 : 2011

Päivi Jokitalo
Freelance Library
pjokitalo AT

Freelance Library Specialist