Scandinavian Shortcuts



Public libraries are known for their role in lifelong learning and informal education but in Vejle the library is also supporting formal university studies as part of the Smart City concept. The library facilitates online learning by offering ’analogue’ facilities such as study areas, guidance, meeting facilities, access to technology, textbooks etc. Smart University Vejle is a mixture of traditional and virtual university, formal and informal. The goal is to educate at least part of the local workforce, to keep the young from moving to the big cities and instead, acquiring their university degree locally.
Danmarks biblioteker 6/2013


It seems to be a universal fact that tweenand teenage boys are not as interested in reading as their female counterparts. In Frederiksberg 8 to 12 year-old boys are targeted in a project which also aims to engage the parents and other local actors in a co-creation process. Storytelling will take several forms: reading aloud, computer games, poetry, art, comics and presentations of different kinds. The local residents’ association will be a starting point for reaching out to non-users in the area, encouraging the members of the boys’ club to read and to learn.
Bibliotek og medier


A survey based on the responses from 14 PDA, patron driven acquisition is increasingly used as a model for offering eresources to research library users. It is still not used by more than 5-6 of the responding organizations, though. In some of the libraries, the third loan generates a purchase while a couple of the libraries use the evidence-based selection where the library makes the decision based on usage. While some libraries have a policy that puts e-format first if a book is available in both electronic and printed form, others still see the eversion as supplementary or treat different types of literature or disciplines differently. According to the survey, which was conducted for the third time, the average expenditure on e-books increased by 13 percent in the total book acquisition budget, which is the same as the previous year.
E-bogsbarometer, Danish Research Library Association


The Danish libraries Think tank for the libraries of the future has conducted a survey of 2,000 Danes from across the country. The results are reported in ten segments. While 89 percent of the “the biggest cultural consumers” (40-59 yearolds) were library users and a whopping 90 percent of the 15-19 year-old students used the library, 70 percent of the more senior males were non-users and 61 percent of the group labelled ‘nerds’ did not use their public library. The results will make it easier to plan for marketing and outreach to specific segments.



Reading Zeal is a national campaign run by the Ministry of Education and Culture where libraries and schools from Lapland to Helsinki are piloting different models of supporting multiliteracies. The goal is for the pupils and families to use, interpret and produce multimedial texts and to be able to critically evaluate information. The campaign brings together libraries, schools, school children and parents in reading, writing, playing games and storytelling. During the two campaign years several national events will be organized.
The Reading Zeal campaign


Even if most of the book talking is being done with school children and teenagers the themes and environments have become more varied. Book talk in pubs, horror book talks with witches and vampires, storytelling hours for adults and sex book talk for teens – the first five years of the Finnish Book Talkers’ Association has brought together a bunch of librarians who are passionate about reading and getting others to enjoy books and stories. The anniversary was celebrated with discussions, reminiscing, good food and drink – and book talk. And while we’re on the subject of libraries and public houses, Kerava City Library popped up at their local. A popular Finnish band was playing and librarians presented what the library has to offer in the way of biographies of musicians, rock lyrics, films about music and music recordings. New users were able to apply for a library card and get to know the services.


Up until now, the state has supported the municipalities in the construction of library buildings and acquisition of mobile libraries. The nationwide plan covering the next four years (2014-2017) includes seven new buildings, 13 bookmobiles and 12 extensive renovations and expansions. The Ministry of Education and Culture will reimburse €18 million of the estimated total €40 million cost of the projects. As the state subsidies system is being reformed, the changes may have an effect on library construction, though. In the future, the funds will not be earmarked for libraries but the municipalities are free to use them on basic services as they see fit.
Ministry of Education and Cultur


The latest data from the libraries in the Finnish capital show that web library use and e-lending are still rising. While ebook lending doubled, the lending of printed materials decreased by 2 percent. The e-book collections and lending figures are still a fraction of the printed ones, though. One of the biggest changes was, as is probably the case in most countries, the increase of mobile use: 70 percent of all e-library visits are made from mobile devices, either tablets or smart phones.



A system that can be tailored according to the needs of both library professionals and users, adaptability and interoperability with other systems were some of the motivations for choosing Koha, a free and open library system for Oslo main library and its seventeen branches. Ownership of data was another important argument in favour of the decision. The Finnish regional library of Joensuu has also recently chosen Koha, partly inspired by their Norwegian colleagues.
Digital utvikling. Deichmanske bibliotek


Unmanned libraries have guaranteed longer opening hours in more than 100 Danish libraries for a few years and now the trend is spreading in the other Nordic countries. In Norway, the first library to let users in when staff is not available was Stavern in Larvik. The library card doubles up as a key and adult users can access the premises from 6 am to 10 pm all year round.

Stavern has since been followed by Stavanger and Spydeberg. By offering the self-service option, the Stavern branch was able to triple its opening hours which according to the library director has had several positive consequences: the library service has become more visible in the community and the staff has made sure the collection is easily accessible by arranging attractive and topical book displays – and by weeding.

The same development can be seen in Finland where Hämeenlinna piloted the concept a couple of years ago and e.g. Vantaa offers longer opening hours using self-service at the Pointti branch. Vadstena, Alingsås and Frillesås were among the first ‘open libraries’ in Sweden. (The Swedish term for the unmanned libraries actually translates as “more open library”). Starting up a self-service library does carry some initial costs, though, as the library needs to be equipped with a secure access system, self-service borrowing and returning machines, RFID tags in all the materials, security cameras and a visitor counter.
Finnish Broadcasting Company, video clip from Hämeenlinna


The Norwegian book boat Epos has been featured in Shortcuts before but since the service has reached the respectable age of 50 years, it is worth mentioning again. A festschrift was published in honor of Epos where the history of the boat itself, its services and staff are presented. You can read personal accounts of the importance of the twice-a-year visits by Epos for children in the 1960s, of Thomas Brevik, the sea-sick librarian onboard, of all the cultural programmes Epos has made available for the public in Sogn og Fjordane, Møre og Romsdal and Hordaland with theatre and clowns, music and authors.
The National Library



The Swedish Arts Council wants to encourage co-operation between sports clubs and libraries by allocating funds for joint reading promotion actions and activities targeted at young readers. The libraries and sports teams are partnering to offer book clubs, reading matches with local sports personalities and short stories for mobile phones. Some libraries provide book collections at sports halls, others team up with trainers and coaches who act as reading role models. The sometimes long bus rides to camps and competitions are spent reading and listening to books on smart phones, mp3 players and tablets. The Sports Museum in Sweden has put together an exhibition on the theme of sports and reading role models as part of the campaign. The touring exhibition can be seen in four different locations where the local libraries and sports clubs organize activities with sports journalists, authors interested in sports and sports teams. The athletes featured in the exhibition include Carolina Klüft who won the Olympic heptathlon title in 2004 and the Swedish national handball coach Staffan Olsson who present their favorite books and tell what reading has given them.


Literature and reading have become one of the hottest political issues and the title of the Halmstad Conference points out why. PISA and other international surveys show that reading comprehension is getting weaker in Sweden, especially among boys. The conference looks at questions such as: how do politicians see the role of libraries? What do politics, policies and politicians say about the future of reading? The speakers include members of parliament as well as local politicians and journalists from national newspapers. Some of the discussion from the conference in April will hopefully be available online. Another Swedish conference touches the same theme from the angle of democracy. The Literature and Democracy conference at Uppsala University takes up young readers, identities and social participation. What we read, how we read and the context we read in characterize us as citizens.


“Being a student in Gothenburg can sometimes feel a bit meagre compared to high-spirited student cities like Uppsala and Lund. But we have something they do not have – an art nouveau palace at the best address of the city.” It seems that the recent renovation and extension at the Gothenburg University Social Sciences Library has been a success as the library has been shortlisted among the final three as the best place to hang out in the city by Nöjesguiden, a popular free of charge monthly magazine for young adults. The 100 new study places, a quiet reading room and new group rooms are appreciated by the users (even if the library didn’t make it as the top hangout).
Gothenburg University Library




Freelance Library Specialist