Scandinavian Shortcuts


  • Longer library visits in Roskilde

When Roskilde University Library compared user statistics from 2012 to 2002 they discovered that the students stayed at the library a lot longer than before.While ten years ago, the average visit lasted around 9 minutes, last year the length of a library visit was up to 53 minutes – an increase of 600 percent! One explanation is the new facilities: the premises are inviting and suitable for individual and group work.

The number of visitors and the length of visits have been calculated with the help of a visitor counter during the period between November 7 to December 7 every year. Observations on the premises confirm the results, according to library staff.

An interesting question is whether this is true for public libraries as well. This will be studied first at Gentofte and then in other Danish public libraries.
Danmarks biblioteker 1/2013


  • Top notch service say library users

Over 27 000 Danish library users took a survey on the services of 179 public libraries in 42 municipalities. The majority are happy with their libraries and the help and guidance they get from library staff. The typical user is a 45+ year-old female.

A third of the users have children and the average user’s level of education is higher than the non-users’. The results also show that while 31 percent visit the library during the week between 1-4 pm, only 3 percent come to the library on a Saturday afternoon.

Even if most users still come to the library to borrow materials, there are segments that use the library in different ways. This is why the respondents have been categorized in four target groups: the Major user (16 percent of users), the Engaged (29 percent), the Student (24 percent) and the Borrower (31 percent) who all represent different ways of using the library and its collections and services.

The Student and the Borrower, for example, have little contact with the staff. The Engaged, typically a 50+ female, comes to the library a lot and is mostly positive about the services while the Student tends to be more critical.

The whole report Bedre biblioteker 2013. Nationale resultater can be found at the danish site


  • Mobile libraries and the good life

Even if Denmark is quite a compact country when it comes to geography, mobile libraries are still seen as an important form of library service.What sets mobile library staff apart from other public services is their ability to create a sense of community, to offer a local service characterized by engagement.

These were at least the values the users interviewed during the Good Life project were expecting of the service. The participating libraries of Brønderslev, Esbjerg, Ringkøbing-Skjern, Skive, Vordingborg, Aabenraa and the Danish Central Library in Sydslesvig see mobile libraries as an important resource in digital learning: the digital book bus can be booked to instruct users in IT in front of a workplace, school or nursing home, in much the same way as the Finnish NettiNysse (

Children are one of the central target groups, but new user groups have also been approached: men with an interest in hunting, young recruits in military service, pupils in after-school activities. The role of the library is also to act as a facilitator in the local community: the mobile library helps bring together local actors.
Danmarks biblioteker 1/2013



  • Libraries evaluated by over 30 000 users

For the third time users in the whole country have had their say on the importance, effects and performance of library services.While the national survey has its origins in the libraries at the universities of applied sciences now the users of university, special and public libraries have also taken the same questionnaire, among them around 12 000 public library  users. All in all, over 31 000 users took the survey.

90 percent of the users of research libraries considered web services to be very important; 82 percent thought the web services were functioning either well or very well.

On the whole, users appreciate the services libraries have to offer. According to the results, users are especially happy with the staff and consider personal service to be important.

Only 3 percent of the respondents from the research libraries saw library services having no effect on the quality of their studies or work whatsoever, while 55 percent reported a considerable increase in the quality and 36 percent said library services had somewhat improved the quality of their studies or work.
The National Library of Finland


  • Council for Finnish university libraries’ strategy on video

During the 2012 World Library and Information Congress in Helsinki, the Finnish university libraries presented their cooperation which has resulted in many joint projects, services and the council for the library sector itself. A video on the strategy of the university libraries is a result of the desire for sharing knowledge and know-how, not only nationally but also internationally. The English-lanugage video is available on YouTube and is based on the new strategy for 2013-2017.
The Council for Finnish University Libraries on YouTube


  • Reading to dogs becoming more and more popular

Ever since Börje, the Maltese reading dog (also called reading education assistance dog or reading therapy dog) based in Espoo, started listening to children reading to him in the libraries of the metropolitan region, the lovable reading dog has been in the limelight with interviews, appearances in the news, a profile on Facebook et cetera. Börje and his colleagues in Kaarina were the first Finnish reading dogs, but today library dogs are being introduced in all parts of the country. Carlo, a Flat-coated Retriever, has recently started his library career in Mikkeli, Eastern Finland and Numa the Whippet is employed by Pirkkala Public Library and Luna by Pori City Library.

The Miniature Schnauzer girls Luru and Lempi listen to reading children in Kämmenniemi Public Library in Tampere, with Ada, Piki, Jaxu, Pilke, Venla and Wili working elsewhere in Finnish libraries. Kouvola and Vantaa also have their own reading dogs who visit the libraries. Even with its positive PISA results in reading, Finland seems to embrace the dogs who initially were meant to help children with reading difficulties.

Search for “Börje Espoo” on Facebook or google.



  • 100th anniversary relay

The Norwegian Library Association is celebrating its 100 years during 2013 in several ways, one of which is the Library Relay. The relay started at Lom Public Library – Library of the year 2012 – and will travel across the country through all types of libraries. During some nine months the baton – or actually two batons and a library lamp in the shape of a house – will be passed on to decision makers, library staff or users in public, school, research and mobile libraries. The last library to receive the baton will be Oslo Public Library on October 25th which is the date of the national 100th anniversary.
The Library Relay


  • Game on in Norway

The Nordic Game Day has for a few years gathered users to libraries in November, and the date of the next Game Day, November 16th, was announced in April. The players are not only children shooting angry birds at pigs or teenagers wishing to be guitar heroes, but increasingly also grown-ups, even users who could be described as extremely grown-up.

The average age of a gamer today is 33, and they are not likely to stop playing board or computer games just because they’re getting older. In Drammen, the older players are the focus and the aim is to get them to the library. Some of the games can also help rehabilitate older persons with memory problems and dementia. The library maintains a Senior Gamers’ blog at as part of the national project.
Nordic Game Day


  • Joy of reading

Inspiring children and young people toread is the aim of a four-year national reading programme in Norway. A strategy for reading zeal is being drawn up by the National Library and several projects to spark up the love of reading are under way.

One of these is the Read Aloud! project in Tromsø where the parents of young  children could e.g. have their questions about reading answered. “Is it okay to read in dialect?” “Is reading comic books aloud good for children?”
The National Library of Norway



  • Cycling for Libraries spreads out

Swedish librarians took to wheels before the annual library conference in May. A bunch of library professionals cycled from Stockholm, through four provinces to Örebro, pausing for workshops and library visits on their way to the more traditional form of conference.

The Cycling for Libraries – Sweden tour and conference is a manifestation of the significance of libraries in society, just like its international model and counterpart, Cycling for Libraries, now in its third year.Meeting colleagues – and library users – is an integral part of Cyc4lib. Cycling for Libraries Sweden


  • First national hospital library week

Apart from promoting cycling, libraries can and do contribute to health issues in various ways. The National Hospital Library week was observed in April for the first time. During the themed week a number of workshops, lectures and visits were organized to present the many services hospital libraries have to offer from eresources for the staff to patient information and help for hospital patients in downloading e-books on their mobile devices.


  • Reading candy

If you find a colourful cotton bag filled with books hanging on a hallstand in the local swimming pool, health care center, church or youth center in Huddinge, it is probably not left behind by someone by mistake.

Huddinge Pubic Library has salty, sweet and sour bags, three of each, all around town. The salty reading candy consists of detective and horror stories. Sweet, of course, refers to feel-good and romance books while sour stands for social realism.

In addition, there are old-fashioned caramels – classics, and family mixes which offer something for both children and grown-ups. Each bag also carries an easy-to-read book. Promoting and supporting reading and literature is a big theme in Sweden at the moment as the coming Library Act stresses the topic. Children and young people will be prioritized and borrowing literature in any form, even as e-books, shall be free of charge also in the future. Huddinge Reading Candy certainly serves the purpose well.

Everything is made simple for the readers: you don’t need a library card, you just pick up the bag of your choosing and return it when you’re done. All bags also contain note books where the readers are encouraged to write down their comments on both the selection and the project as a whole. It is too early to say if any of the books will be returned but the library staff are hopeful: if you trust people they often prove themselves worth it. The project runs the whole year with funding from the Cultural Council as part of the national reading promotion programme.
Biblioteksbladet 3/2013


  • More boost for wellbeing from libraries

When Norrköping City Library – and its patrons – became frustrated with substance abusers and addicts lying down on the couches in the children’s library, the staff got an idea.Why not try to get them interested in reading and literature. The result of the reasoning was the People between the lines reading circle which started in 2011. It is a cooperation between the library and the social services, aimed at outpatient addicts. It has proven to be a popular form of service with eight to ten participants in two groups.

And it is not only the group members and library staff who read; also the social services staff are expected to read the books. The members can either read or listen to talking books, at their own pace. Some only manage 5 of the 100 pages they’d set out to read, some stay quiet during the meetings but all know it is safe and confidential. It is “reading as healing” as the organizers put it. You feel calmer and less alone when you read something you can identify with.
Biblioteksbladet 2/2013

Freelance Library Specialist