Scandinavian Shortcuts


Virtual visit to Hjørring public library

Now you can explore your local library on the internet even when you’re not able to visit in person. Hjørring is the first public library in Denmark to be photographed by a certified Google photographer. The result is a walking tour around the five-year old premises of the library in central Hjørring. So far, the library has used the tour as a PR tool but anybody interested in Scandinavian interior design in a library setting is welcome to have a look at:
Danmarks Biblioteker 3/2013

Reading all over Denmark

Even if library news from Denmark tend to revolve around emerging technologies and user-driven development, reading has by no means been forgotten. Marianne Jelved, the minister of culture, has allocated DKK20 million over the next four years to Reading Denmark, a new programme which includes, among other things, a competition between municipalities on the most creative and exciting initiative to get more people reading.

A handful of regions have been selected as ‘reading municipalities’ which receive a grant of up to DKK500,000 for measures promoting reading among Danes who rarely or never read literature. The municipalities define the target groups themselves.

An advisory group will inform of the experiences of the 12 model municipalities who’ve already come up with ideas such as book circles in manufacturing companies and poems read over supermarket loudspeakers.

Know your librarian

When library staff no longer hide behind their reference desks they need to be recognised by some other sign. Uniforms have also been debated in Finland, at times heatedly, but few libraries have opted for specific pieces of clothing for the whole staff. The most common item is probably a name tag on a lanyard.

In Aalborg, an orange lanyard was tested. While it did make recognizing staff easier, the library chose a more visible symbol: a green button-down shirt.

The colour is said to symbolise helpfulness, tolerance and politeness, va lues which are important at the library. The shirts can be worn casually over a t-shirt or buttoned-down. The colour goes with the library interior and furnishings.

After initial doubts, the staff agree that especially roving reference librarians need some thing to tell the users who the library professionals are.
Danmarks Biblioteker 4/2013

Listening circles

The Danish Broadcasting Company runs 32 listening circles in public libraries around the country. These music clubs focus on classical music but from autumn 2013, the new Beat Clubs kick off at around 19 libraries. The listening circles are a cooperation dating back to 2010 between the Broadcasting Company, public libraries and Bibzoom, the online music service of Danish libraries. The clubs are another win-win example of collaboration. They meet in libraries every month to discuss the participants’ musical experiences. The local librarian receives a facilitator’s pack and Bibzoom offers downloads on the current theme. Danmark’s Radio also focuses on the composers and music genres in question. The library comes into contact with users, likeminded library customers get a chance to meet each other and the Broadcasting Company reaches into every corner of the country.
Fagmagasinet Perspektiv 2013


Libraries spreading to other media

Text TV is still alive as not all who watch television make use of the internet. This is why the Finnish Ask A Librarian service not only operates on the web and on national and local radio but publishes ’picks of the week’ on text TV. The questions and answers are selected every Tuesday from the online service and include ponderings such as whether a divorced woman should be referred to as Miss or Mrs.

Open leadership at National Library

It has been a tradition in e.g. licensing seminars to quiz representatives of eresource vendors and publishers before a live audience. Difficult questions arising from negotiations have been addressed there and then.

The same principle was put to use at the annual library network conference in Finland, organized by the National Library. This time, the questions were collected beforehand and pointed at the executive team of the Library Net work Services unit.

The session lasted a whole hour and included topics such as when will the unit relocate to the center of Helsinki and how the National library is listening to the needs of the libraries further away from the metropolitan region.
The National Library Network Services wiki

Ask anything

The local Ask a Librarian service at Helsinki City Library has undergone a revamp. One of the new features is engagement from the library users. In addition to responses from library staff, questions from library users can be answered by fellow patrons, all you have to do is register as a user. The software allows for several answers to one question. Library staff are able to post questions awaiting answers on the front page. The shift in openness acknowledges the shared skills and know-how residing in the user community: library professionals may not always be the best – or at least, not the only – authorities and experts on a topic. The change is in line with the general trend of engaging and involving users.
The Ask Anything service


Fridge poetry

Askim public library in Norway is using the fridge poetry magnets in a creative way in their poetry competition. Users are invited to write a poem by rearranging the small fridge magnets in the library (yes, there is an actual fridge involved). They are then instructed to take a photo of their poem, post it on Instragram, tag it with the agreed hashtag and leave their name and phone number. All users who have posted their poem take part in a prize draw. The competition is part of the Norwegian year of languages. Simple and fun!
Askim bibliotek

Kick-off for reading

It has been done before, but as it seems to work so well, it is well worth reporting: the Holmlia soccer club, Deichmanske Library in Holmlia and the !les (!read) association cooperate on Hat trick, a reading project where fiction and football meet.

The soccer teams were introduced to a selection of books, soccer professionals gave talks on their careers and the meaning reading can have for players.

The library is also trying to reach users in new surroundings such as the soccer field which the young players associate with leisure and pleasure. When children hear the coaches and older players talk about how books can open new worlds, how reading can help you unwind and how you can identify yourself with the charac ters in a book, it makes reading more meaningful.

“My favourite book is Me, Zlatan which I’ve read three times. Now I’m going to read Golden boys by Arild Stavrum”, said one of the children in a group after the Hat trick meeting where Stavrum, a former soccer player, gave a book talk.
Bok og bibliotek 3/2013


Library of the year

The City Library of Gothenburg has shown how libraries can also excel in btough conditions. While the main library has been under renovation and expansion since spring 2012, a new 300 m2 branch was opened in the center where users are able to access the internet on the public access computers or their own devises, read papers and magazines and borrow from the smaller collection available. The library hasn also collaborated with new partners and professions to make library services visible in new surroundings. They have a special branch for children up to five years old in a museum with programme for pre-school children, space for activities and of course, books, films and computer games to take home. The Dynamo branch, also located in a museum, is geared at 15-25 year-olds with facilities for arrangements the target group has initiated: art exhibits by the young library users, debates, poetry recitals etc. These are some the reasons why the Gothenburg Public Library was rewarded with the annual Library of the Year award. The award has been given out by the national trade union, DIK every year since 1986.
Bibilioteksbladet 8/2013

Step on it

Most libraries today are faced with the dilemma of making e-resources visible for the users within the confines of the physical library. When the Umeå University Library Arts Campus was thinking of new ways to market their resources they turned to the students at the campus and the HUMlab, which brings together students, researchers, artists and entrepreneurs to experiment with the latest technologies. From a survey made by students, among students it became clear that the users hadn’t found any of the ejournals they read through the library. One of the initiatives from the students was an interactive floor which would function as a big, and impossible to miss, user interface to the library materials.

The HUMlab is going to build the biggest interactive floor space in Europe – 5 times 4 meters – with high resolution. As the work is done as part of the activities of the lab, the library does not have to pay a cent for the project. Even before the floor is in place there are plans to study how the visual user interface would function with other user groups such as school children.
Biblioteksbladet 6-7/2013

Access to literature

The Best Easy-to-Read Library where people with reading difficulties are taken into account is chosen every year and the latest libraries to win the recognition were the City Library of Värnamo and the school library at Pol hemsskolan in Gävle who shared the prize given out for the fifth time.

In Värnamo the public library offers a broad spectrum of activities supporting reading and easy-to-read materials for users in old people’s homes, special and comprehensive schools and adult education. They also have programs for users with dementia, for immigrants and for people in care settings. The library sees serving the weakest reader groups as a matter of democracy: they too should have access to literature and news, like the rest of the users.
Bibilioteksbladet 8/2013


Freelance Library Specialist