Heart of the Drammen Riverside Knowledge Park
In the summer of 2004 a partnership agreement was entered into by the Buskerud College of Higher Education, the Buskerud School of Business Management, the Advisory Council for the Drammen Region, Buskerud County and the Drammen municipal authorities with a view to developing a regional centre of excellence to be known as the Riverside Knowledge Park.
The aims of the project were defined as follows: “Drammen shall be a leading centre of knowledge, offering a stimulating environment where expertise and original thinking can flourish among students, teachers, research workers and innovators. The Riverside Knowledge Park shall be the town’s architectonic landmark.”
Today the Riverside Knowledge Park building houses a variety of institutions and activities. There is also a café, a bookshop, a careers service and an innovation centre.
The Drammen Library
The aim of making the Drammen Library the heart of the Knowledge Park has been successfully achieved. Located on three stories in the centre of the building, the library offers the widest possible range of knowledge and experience, the philosophy being that visitors should be able to go from the lively atmosphere of the children’s department on the first floor to a world of study and contemplation on the third floor. The vision is for the public to experience the library as a seamless entity with no need for them to consider what particular type of library it may be.
The Drammen Library is the result of close cooperation between the municipal public library, the County Library and the College of Higher Education’s special library. The municipality, the county and the college have all made significant financial contributions towards establishing the Drammen Library. From an organisational point of view each library still belongs to its parent organisation but is now physically integrated into one joint public, county and special library to form a new entity – the Drammen Library.
The Drammen Library is of particular interest in relation to the project ‘Norwegian Digital Library’ (NDB), which is concerned with “the integration of services and content from various suppliers into a joint framework in the form of common format, protocols and base services”. This is important for joint searching in library bases, for lending and borrowing procedures, for Internet-based services, for shelf arrangement, etc. The Drammen Library makes use of the National Joint Library Card, as do an increasing number of other Norwegian libraries.
Learning Resource Centre
The Drammen Library also functions as a learning resource centre, offering ‘normal’ library services alongside ITservices and a variety of guidance and tuition facilities. Access is available to electronic and paper-based resources and there are also flexible workplaces for personal study and knowledge acquisition. The library has its own IT-instruction room with some 70 PCs for use by children, adults and students. Here the general public, students, external clients and staff working elsewhere in the Riverside Knowledge Park can acquire and improve their knowledge and information skills.
Automated library services
In order to offer the public the best possible service, the library has introduced a wholly-automated system for lending out and receiving back library material. Computerised lending services on each floor and specially-developed automated receiving units on two floors make it possible for members of the public to help themselves without having to wait in a queue. The library also has special search facilities on all floors where visitors can track down whatever material they require. These innovations mean that members of staff have more time available to assist the public and to answer the more challenging enquiries with reliable and correct information.
Centre of excellence
Based on the facilities now available at the Riverside Knowledge Park, the County Library aims to develop its role as a centre of excellence for the region. The County Library has conducted a survey of the expertise of the staff in the three cooperating libraries and will draw up a programme of courses and other initiatives to improve skills where necessary. This programme can also be made available to all library personnel throughout the region.
The County Library will assume the role of development motivator for the Drammen Library and as such will be involved in cooperation with other external partners, such as professional and research institutions. The County Library’s emphasis will be on future development, the overall aim being for libraries to be seen as arenas for lifelong learning.
Experience to date
Since the opening of the Drammen Library on 26. February 2007 our experiences have been very positive. Public library users and students have acquired access to a wider and more detailed choice of media now that they can search in both the college’s and the public library’s databases. The library contains both non-fiction and fiction to a degree which better fulfils users’ needs for practical knowledge and reading for leisure. Here everything is under the same roof and in the same electronic base.
In addition, the fact that the premises are very inviting means that visitors stay longer in the library than before. Families with children, in particular, spend more time than was the case in the old public library. With regard to experience concerning the college, county and public library staff in the Drammen Library particular mention must be made of the positive synergy effect arising from the overall competence and skills of the combined personnel.
The location of the Drammen Library within the Riverside Knowledge Park will have added significance with regard to local response. The building itself is very impressive, offering a positive, inviting setting and making the library more attractive to the public. Most important, however, is for the Drammen Library to become a source of inspiration for seekers of knowledge among the inhabitants of both the town and the surrounding region.
Based on initial experiences and with the aim of making the Drammen Library the region’s leading player in the field of library services and the dissemination of knowledge and information, the organisation intends to pay particular attention to the following areas:
• Seamlessness – to offer the public every type of library service under one roof
• Knowledge – to make possible an improvement in the level of skills and learning among the population by the dissemination of knowledge and information and by ensuring that library collections and material are available free of charge to each and every user
• Learning – to provide the best possible learning environment for all library users
• Research – to make scientific databases and electronic resources available to research workers in the region
• Culture – to offer the public interesting cultural experiences and the opportunity for contact with literature and with authors. The library should be an all-round cultural arena where both professionals and amateurs can meet
• Meeting place – to be an open, noncommercial meeting place for the local population with particular focus on the multicultural aspect.
For further information:
www.drammensbiblioteket.no (Norwegian only)
Chief librarian for the
municipal section of
the Drammen Library
Solvi.Tellefsen AT drmk.no
Translated by Eric Deverill