Editorial: A brand new magazine

What you have in your hands is the very first issue of a brand new magazine

It is with great pleasure that I write this lead-off editorial in SLQ, a publication for everyone interested in the world of books and libraries. Denmark, Finland, Norway and now Sweden have government agencies that are responsible for coordinating and improving various types of libraries.

Finally we have the opportunity to offer a panoramic view of the trends, perspectives, innovative projects and creative ideas that are emerging from libraries all around Scandinavia.

We can be proud of our governments for their mutual commitment to library services as a cornerstone of the effort to build true knowledge societies.

The governments are dedicated to ensuring that libraries and their offerings will be as accessible as possible, that bureaucracy and territorial thinking will not strangle the flow of information to an inquisitive citizenry.

They understand that libraries are powerful symbols of open forums, of free and equal access to information, knowledge and experience in other words a prerequisite of true democracy.

Those of us for whom libraries represent both a career and a daily source of inspiration have a great responsibility to translate the political goal of a library system that provides people with exactly what they need no matter where they are in life into a living, breathing reality.

Just recently Sweden joined the other three countries in beginning work on a project aimed at developing a joint approach to strengthening libraries for the benefit of everyone. The National Library of Sweden has been assigned a coordinating role. Our job is to conduct a national overview, as well as to promote cooperation and modernisation.

The particular areas of focus are digital services and systems, LIBRIS (the joint catalogue of Swedish academic and research libraries, as well as a national search service that also includes approximately 20 public libraries), official library statistics, and collaboration with regional libraries to monitor the design and implementation of plans for library services that the local authorities and regions have adopted pursuant to the Swedish Libraries Act.

We welcome the assignment with open arms, convinced that libraries can grow and develop by helping each other  not by identifying the lowest common denominator but by proceeding from a common structure to cultivate excellence in individual areas of speciality.

This first issue of the magazine examines the concept of lifelong learning. More and more people of all ages are studying online what new demands are being placed on our public library system as a result?

Consider the school libraries, the potential that they represent for modernisation and improvement. What is the best way for public and school libraries to collaborate?

In an age when citizens have a growing need to acquire new and advanced skills throughout their lives, how can support for lifelong learning strengthen our libraries and their fundamental role in promoting social development? We face great challenges and many opportunities, and I am looking forward to a stimulating discussion in the forum that this magazine hopes to provide.

Gunilla Herdenberg
National Librarian of Sweden

National Librarian of Sweden