Scandinavian Shortcuts


  • Librarians: the floor is yours!

The citizens’ service bureau has for several years been helping the locals at the public library in Næstved. From the beginning of 2013 it will also be run by the library with the library director in charge of the whole organization. The goal is not to save money but to create synergy between the two operations. Libraries have a long tradition of using IT and offering self-service loans and returns. This will be a definite advantage when more and more public ser-vices are digitised and move online. On top of the more traditional library tasks, the librarians are used to helping users navigate on the web and instruct them on the use of computers and self-service machines. The whole staff will be trained to give assistance to the customers as floorwalkers: friendly and service-minded professionals who are not hiding behind a desk but meeting the users around the library building asking whether they need any help.

 Danmarks biblioteker 6/2012


  • Non-users consider libraries important

71 % of library non-users consider libraries to be important for the society shows a survey conducted in the island of Fyn in Denmark. Still, 39 % of non-users say it is highly unlikely that they would become library users in the future. What is promising, though, is that 80 % of the non-users have used the library at some point in their lives while 38 % have a partner or child who frequents the library.

While half of the students surveyed gave lack of information as a reason for not using the library, the young, the single and families with children are too busy to visit the library.

The over-the-phone survey was conducted with 1,433 inhabitants, 671 of which were non-users. The goals were to find out the amount of non-users,

to divide them into user segments and determine who the potential users were.

Based on the results, the library has been able to distinguish several non-user segments with their own distinctive profiles. These include e.g the senior, the young user looking for education, the educated worker and the middle-aged functionary. These profiles will be useful when trying to reach the non-users and designing services which would hopefully appeal to them.

Danmarks biblioteker 5/2012


  • Cutting a long story short

In Køge library users are able to receive book tips on their mobiles. The library sends the subscribers a text message on a new crime novel every two weeks. The library staff admit that writing a short description of a book and making it interesting in the space of an SMS is not easy. Still, it can be done: the messages have clearly captured the interest of readers as it often happens that a user comes to the library asking for the book just moments after the SMS has been sent.

Danmarks biblioteker 5/2012


  • Library-produced eCourses

Fun and easy, that’s the way it should be – and in this case it is. The Danish is a website and service with free learning materials in the form of e.g. videos, step-by-step guides and quizzes. It is a national service run by the six regional libraries but can also be used locally, either as part of a course or workshop at the library or as a resource in independent learning. The goal is to improve the digital competencies of all citizens. The 10-20 minute courses include help in using Facebook and other social media, downloading music or books or using the public online citizens’ services. Users can create a personal profile with a list of all the courses they have taken on eCourses.


  • Celebrities marketing libraries

The public libraries in the region of Southern Ostrobothnia could be seen and heard online, on TV as well as radio and newspapers during October. The campaign aimed to highlight the role of the modern public library. On top of reading and books the marketing materials took up the less well-known services such as computer games, downloading ebooks or using digitising hardware and software in the libraries. Singers, artists, pageants and sportsmen alike gave their reading tips on the website, and the local radio station and the national commercial tv channel ran an ad. Users had the chance to win tablets, ebook readers, printed and ebooks.
The campaign website


  • Ebooks on trial

What has been lacking on the e-front in Finland is Finnish fiction. Now the public libraries in the metropolitan region are offering a small selection of the latest fiction as ebooks which can be read online or downloaded on the users’ PC or mobile device. The aim is to gather user feedback for developing the service further. The Ebib trial runs until the end of 2012 when the results will be evaluated. The partners include Helsinki City Library, the National Library of Finland, the Otava and Edita publishing houses and the Finnish Book Publishers Association.

Sähköiset sisällöt yleisiin kirjastoihin


  • Collaborative budgeting for library development

Library users – and non-users for that matter – get to decide on the use of a 100.000 euro development budget in Helsinki. The money is part of the budget of the future Helsinki Central Library currently being planned. The users are invited to suggest how the money should be spent. Ideas can be sent online but the library also organizes workshops where all inhabitants are welcome. “People are the best ex-perts on their own everyday lives and they have a growing need to be en-gaged in and be a part of decision-making” says Maija Berndtson, the library director of Helsinki City Library.

Helsinki Central Library


  • Six Proposals to Progress in Helsinki Central Library Architectural Competition

Heart of the Metropolis, the architec-tural competition for the design of the Helsinki Central Library, has now reached its second stage. The competition jury announced 21. november 2012 six competition entries for further consideration. Images of the entries selected for participation in stage two can be viewed at the webpage of the Central Library, the webpage of the competition itself and the pages of the Helsinki City Library.


  • Citizen involvement in developing public libraries

According to the chairperson of the competition jury, deputy mayor Ritva Viljanen, all six entries selected for stage two provided an answer to the challenge of creating an open and welcoming Central Library.

“With the Central Library, our goal is to develop Helsinki’s urban culture and create a city centre where citizens have somewhere to meet and share their ideas”, Viljanen explains.

“The Central Library allows us to take the entire library field to a new era. Libraries are currently going through a transitional period, with digital media having risen alongside traditional books. Also, the customer base of pub-lic libraries is more diverse than ever before.

At the same time, the Central Library will also be a place for books and literature. For as long as books exist, libraries will have them,” Viljanen states.

The public has participated eagerly in the library project. An exhibition devoted to the project, in spring 2012, had to be extended due to its popularity. Visitors were given the opportunity to vote for their own favourite proposal for the building. One of the six entries now selected for continuation is the popular favourite, Käännös. The public has actively shared their hopes and wishes regarding the Central Library.


  • The competition continues with a refining process

The architectural proposals selected for stage two were chosen for their merits in architecture, urban development and functionality. These proposals were considered to have potential for de-velopment according to the project’s technical and ecological goals. Many different approaches to the same re-quirements were presented, and it is hoped that stage two will produce several different solutions. The overall value of the proposal was considered more important than flawlessness in detail.

The competition rules are the same in stage two as in the first stage. The competitors chosen for stage two will have the opportunity to develop their proposals further, according to instructions provided by the jury. These instructions focus especially on the wishes and dreams of the public, such as the importance of quiet spaces.

The jury will select a winner from the six proposals. The winner will be announced in June 2013.

The architectural competition of the Central Library is part of the Design Capital Helsinki 2012 program.

Further information on


  • Library quiz

What better place to organize a quiz than at a library? One of the libraries engaging in quizzes is Ålesund in western Norway. Library users are invited to take part either alone, or in groups of three. In October the event was extra special as the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation was interviewing candidates for QuizDan, a TV quiz. As the TV show was missing female competitors, the library certainly was the best place to start looking!


  • Public Health Library is a national online service available for professionals and the public alike. The national license agreements for medical and health resources mean that patients, their relatives and patient organisations all have access to the same materials as doctors. The resources include databases, journals, reference materials, videos, patient information and experiences, brochures, forms and mobile apps. The Health Library cooperates with the local special and research libraries and is seeking new forms of collaboration also with the public libraries. The editorial board consists of 12 FTEs: librarians, doctors, nurses, pharmacists and journalists. Some have a background in web and information ser-vices and a number of the editors are also practicing professionals – a clear advantage in an online service where the workers are not in daily contact with the users.

Bibliotekforum 2/2012


  • New library buildings attract users

Opening a new library building or renovating an existing one is a sure-fire way to rising user statistics. Eidsberg reported an increase of 58.8 % in library visits a year after opening in 2004. In Lambertseter library visits doubled during the first year in 2010-2011. The loan figures are still increasing. The statistics show that in municipalities where a new library building has opened during the last ten years the loans were up by 12 to 60 % the following year. Apart from the ‘wow factor’ the accessibility of the new buildings also encourages new users, as well as the new visibility of the collec-tions in the new and spacious facilities. The media visibility is also certainly welcomed by libraries: the Norwegian Aftenposten ran an extensive newspaper story and editorial on the effects of the library premises during October.



  • Literary picnic for teddy bears

The International Teddy Bear Day was celebrated in libraries all around Scandinavia. In Nödinge the children were invited to the library and encouraged to take their teddy bears with them to give them a chance to meet their furry friends. Teddy bear stories were, of course, on the agenda. Tierps library offered an arts and crafts event and Nybro put together a teddy bear exhibition of the users’ teddies. All received a teddy bear medal. In Vilhelmina library children and teddy bears had an indoor picnic with juice and cake, games and music, a party which has become something of a tradition already.



  • Talking books for the young

If you are a teenager with dyslexia reading is not necessarily a joy. You are not likely to know you’re entitled to the services of a special library, either. This is why The Swedish Library of Talking Books and Braille is trying to reach the 16 -25 year old users who would benefit from its downloadable talking books. The library has produced marketing material which is available to public libraries, organisations and associations who deal with young people. The material uses pictograms (headphones!), clear and concise language and contrasting colours to make reading easier. The books can be downloaded on mobile devices and PCs. A QR code provides easy access to the website.

Böcker för alla 3/2012


  • Ask a biologist

The Swedish online reference service, The Library Answers – Bibblan svarar, invites guest specialists to its troops on a regular basis. One week it is an astronomer, the next time you might be able to pose questions on poisonous berries or white-tailed eagles to a biologist. During the Dyslexia Awareness Week experts were dealing with questions on different kinds of reading and writing difficulties. This not only serves the users but also educates the library staff who take part in the service.

Folkhögskolebibliotekens blogg


  • Press release: Success for the Nordic theme at Göteborg Book Fair

This year’s Book Fair has broken records. Visitors have been able to take part in 3,446 different events, with 2,420 participants. The Nordic theme has made its mark on the 28th consecutive Göteborg Book Fair.

– The Nordic theme has permeated the entire fair and we are both delighted with and proud of the great interest inspired by it. (..) Swedish journalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson, who recently were released from Ethiopian prison, drew the largest audience at the International Square, com-mented Maria Källsson, Book Fair Director.


  • Nordic theme makes a major impact

Over sixty writers from the Nordic countries and hundreds of writers from Sweden attended the Book Fair, and many of the seminars discussed Scandinavia and Nordic literature.

The cooperating partners, Nordic Council of Ministers and the Nordic Council, have not only featured Nordic literature in their exhibition stand and in seminars. In addition, fair visitors of all ages have enjoyed playing new Scandinavian computer games with Findus, Pettson and Astrid Lindgren’s many fictional characters. They have also been able to meet a variety of people from government ministers to young designers and to book a time with the director of the Nordic Culture Fund, Karen Bue. Many people were eager to pitch their ideas to her.

– There is actually no other word than successful to describe the Nordic exhibition stand at the Book Fair in Göteborg. From morning to evening it has been full – chock-full – of people who have talked, exchanged experiences, debated or listened to everything which has been discussed on the Nordic Stand’s stage (..) commented Bodil Tingsby, Head of Communications for the Nordic Council of Ministers and the Nordic Council, and project leader for the Nordic exhibition stand.

Freelance Library Specialist