How can small libraries make a difference?
The long period with positive figures for visits and loans is
evidence that the library has become a key institution in the
little mountain hamlet of Lom. We believe that this can be
explained by physical as well as internal success factors.
Since 1999, the library has participated in approximately ten large and small projects, for which we have applied for and received funding from regional, governmental or private collaboration partners. Oppland County Library has taken a vigorous and active stance on library development in our county, and the other libraries in the northern part of Gud - brandsdalen Valley have served as essential cooperation partners in many of these projects.
As stated by the Official Norwegian Report on Cultural Policy (NOU 2013:4), the libraries have in recent years lost out in the competition for budget funds. We regard provision of external funding as crucial to development of the libraries, in light of the state of municipal finances and the absence of any willingness to invest in libraries.
By securing project funding we have created new options in the library and developed and pursued collaborative relationships with new partners in the library sector as well as outside it. Among the most recent and successful projects, we would like to mention Words about mountains (http://ordomfjell.blogspot.no/p/ord-om-fjell.html) and the EU project The Stranger, on which we have now embarked.
Lom Public Library’s vision is to serve as a library “from cradle to grave”. In prac tice, this manifests itself in collaboration with institutions such as the local child welfare clinic, day-care center, school, nursing home, volunteer center and Lom Bakery.
The library visits the child welfare clinic for the 18-month check-up to talk about the value of books and reading. At the child welfare clinic we can reach ‘everybody’, and we have seen how families that have never previously set foot in the library have been transformed into eager library users.
The library attends parent-teacher conferences in daycare centers as well as schools. The schools and daycare centers are regular visitors to the library, and the librarians’ activities have included visits to the day-care center to present books by way of dramatizations.
In collaboration with the schools, the library has developed the “Reading plan for Lom”. The plan states that each school class is entitled to at least two book pre sentations per year at the primary level and one at the lower secondary level. In 2012, the library undertook 25 presentations of new books to the schoolchildren of the village.
To cater to the needs for library services among the oldest inhabitants we cooperate with the Volunteer Center on delivery of books to those who are unable to get to the library on their own. When there is a demand, we have placed a book depot in the nursing home and gone there to hold readings for the residents. We have also collaborated with the local bakery on themed events, with the local writers’ association on the literature festival “Authors’ Days”, and with local enthusiasts on dissemination of literature.
Dissemination of literature
The digital revolution has made books more available than ever before. Now, you can sit comfortably on your own couch and download books to your tablet computer at a reasonable cost. This means that the library must provide ser vices other than merely putting books on display in order to persuade the users to get up from the couch.
We believe that active dissemination of´literature, to identify books that suit each individual, books that the borrowers are not even aware of, to talk books out from the shelves, must be a key task for the libraries in the future. We have mentioned dissemination to children when describing our collaboration with schools and day-care centers.
In collaboration with Lom Bakery we arrange annual book presentation events for adults. We also collaborate with local enthusiasts on dissemination of comic books and poetry.
Creating visibility for ourselves
To remind the inhabitants of our existence, we need to profile the library and our services. Being visible in the press and social media is essential. Since 2008, we have been producing the blog “Three Wise Women”. The blog is up - dated weekly, and tells stories of large and small events in the library, often with a humorous twist.
The blog is an important channel of information and a method for marketing the library, even outside the confines of Lom. “Three Wise Women” has followers from all parts of the country, and we believe that the digital campaign was a significant reason why Lom came top in the competition for the “Library of the Year” award in 2012.
In order to undertake library development in a small community it is essential to venture out in search of some new inspiration. We go on annual study trips, attend relevant training courses and have taken supplementary education.
It is also crucial to devote time to updating skills during working hours, even in a small library. We have dedicated one hour per week as a scheduled reading hour, when the librarians read book reviews, authors’ biographies or excerpts from books. This task is given high priority.
For the love of libraries
We regard the borrowers and the literature as the key constituents of a library’s activities, and the librarian as a builder of bridges between these. Irrespective of whether the library is large or small, located in the center or on the periphery, nthe love of these key constituents remains a decisive factor.
Through the Norwegian public acquisition scheme for books, the libraries are supplied with books that have undergone quality assessment. We have a special responsibility for disseminating this literature to our users. In a small community such as Lom, you can get to know each borrower. You find out what their taste in literature is, and can keep this in mind when reading with a view to later dissemination.
We hope that this involvement with the borrowers and with literature, which we refer to as love of libraries, will result in good dissemination efforts and provision of good services. Ideally, the library should provide a boost to literature as well as to the borrower.