The power of projects

Any prophecy about the future must include an acceptance of change and public libraries are no exception to this rule. Their ability to adapt is constantly challenged by changes in the community, technological development and the fact that we live in a knowledge society. There is a clear need for strategic planning in relation to probable future changes in society and the position to be taken by the library sector.

In all the Nordic countries strategic development in the public library sector is receiving close attention, both nationally and at local levels. The aim of these development programmes is always to improve library services to the general public. Such initiatives often take the form of special programmes of action allowing projects to complement and strengthen each other.

Shared digital services, an emphasis on life-long learning and various forms of cooperation between public and research libraries are target areas throughout the Nordic region. The challenge is to go from the traditional, collection-oriented library with its focus on internal systems to a genuine emphasis on the user, a stronger network and a digital library.

If we are to create growth in a public library sector where there is little expectation of generous grants or increased resources, we must rely upon projects and development work to try out new methods and help us decide where best to direct our efforts.

Our libraries need skilled, forwardlooking staff with good ideas and minds open to new possibilities. Adaptability and new methods of approach spring from learning and in order to stay ahead libraries must be learning organisations.We must go on the offensive, creating enthusiasm and belief in the future. Project work is a key factor in achieving these aims.

I firmly believe that all organisations need to be constantly engaged in a project of some sort or other, preferably a large, demanding project that leaves its mark. Projects create chaos and in libraries are sure to affect the budget and internal communications. They also, however, inspire creativity and produce a new dynamic.

Projects give tangible results!

From the Stavanger Library: “For any management aiming to

  • Create growth where growth seems impossible
  • Inspire enthusiasm among the dispirited
  • Turn an organisation from the defensive to the offensive
  • Retain and recruit the best employees

A project is the answer!”

Translated by Eric Deverill

Director Department of Libraries The Norwegian Archive, Library and Museum Authority