Snow White and the seven dwarfs

The municipal merger on Falster and East Lolland creates a completely new library structure. Today Guldborgsund libraries consist of six quite similar local libraries, a mobile library and a considerably bigger main library that also acts as county library.

But the new municipal structure has provided the chance of starting a library development project in 2005- 2006, where extrovert mediation and networking partnerships are the operative words. Each local library gets its own mediation profile and must be proactive in relation to users in a cooperation with external partners.

The dwarfs

With inspiration from the muses of Greek mythology, Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences and the local libraries’ existing competences, a number of profiles have been worked out which each local library has to develop further.With seven service branches the number and the concept fit Grimm’s fairytale Snow White and the seven dwarfs perfectly, but due to the politically decided future library structure, one of the branches will be replaced by a mobile library, so now there are only six dwarfs left. However, this does not change the basic idea of the project and the fact that the fairytale gives the project an easily recognisable and conspicuous image with which to market the profiles. Nykøbing Falster, the main library, is, of course Snow White – she, who has everything, masters everything and gets the prince and half the kingdom in the end.

The profiles

Each local library will continue to be a proper public library with all core services intact. The real mission of the profiles is in relation to communication/ mediation to the outside world. With the profile as working title the libraries are given a tool to make their mark in the multitude of cultural offers and create an image in the local community. The profile can be of a physical, material kind and of an offensive/ mediatory/out-of-house character. The latter providing the basis of cooperation across borderlines with other cultural educators. The seven dwarfs is a playful way of dividing our perception of the world, as it will hopefully become apparent from the overview:

Sakskøbing Library
Musical mediation
Activities: Concerts, loan of musical instruments, project ‘buying and reviewing by the young’, sound laboratory, street musicians, ‘amateur musician dating’. Partnerships: Music school, local bands, pupils’ council, further education for the young etc.
Væggerløse Library
Song, play, drama and movement
Activities: Theatre, musical play school, gymnastic and karate displays, sports activities, pulsimeter, exercise bike, song evening Partnerships: Local theatre, Music school, gymnastics and sports organisations, dancing schools, continuation schools.
Nørre Alslev Library
The narrative and the good story
Activities: Outreach story telling, touring cultural educator, reading circles, book talks in schools, radio reviews, newspaper column, Opening the book, courses in story telling Partnerships: Amateur theatres, local cultural educators, institutions, schools, after school activities, recreation centres, local papers, regional radio
Nysted Library
Pictures, art and creativity
Activities: Library gallery, hobby exhibitions/workshops, painting workshops for children, lectures on art Partnerships: The art society, galleries, local artists, art schools
Væggerløse Library
Natural science
Activities: Nature experiences, mathematics/physics activities, experimentarium, arranging trips, astronomic telescope, aquarium, healthy lifestyle, ecology, continuous/conventional energy, technology Partnerships: Hunting and fishing shops, ornithological society, scouts/guides, chess club
Stubbekøbing Library
Roots, cultural heritage and history
Activities: Archive, local-historical exhibitions, historical events, history of the PC, loan of metal detectors Partnerships: Agricultural organisations, localhistorical societies, pensioners’ associations, museum, schools
Mobile library
Mediation on wheels
Activities: Language and play, picture books, parent lectures on language stimulation, language camp for children, library club, writing competitions, film and theatre Partnerships: The church, political parties’ local departments, language consultant, institutions, schools, recreation clubs

The project has four objectives:

  • To create a dynamic, communicative profile for the individual local library, thereby making a platform for the individual member of staff ’s further development of competencies and professionalism in relation to the mediation aspect.
  • To create frames for a cooperation between the libraries, as the borderlines between the individual ‘special’ libraries are naturally fluid
  • To create strongly mediating, unusual and different libraries for the users
  • To open up the possibilities for locally anchored citizen’s service and recreation administration.

At the moment there are plans for placing civic service shops in connection with two of the local libraries. On the other hand there will be no direct organisational coupling between libraries and an actual cultural/leisure administration, as the structure looks right now.


For the purpose of developing each individual dwarf ’s profile, a reference group has been appointed consisting of competent members of staff from the entire library system. The task for the reference groups is to work out plans for networks in the cultural landscape around each individual profile in the entire municipality.

This way the interests and competencies of all members of staff will be exploited to the full, while simultaneously the libraries will be acting in an extrovert way.

The vision is to move from an almost exclusively passive mediation, where the libraries make things available, to an extrovert, active mediation, where the libraries as the municipality’s largest cultural institution position themselves as a visible and vigorous centre of the local community.

Translated by Vibeke Cranfield

City librarian, Guldborgsund libraries.
Project manager, Guldborgsund libraries.