Scandinavian Shortcuts


When Avedøre Library was to move to an abandoned school in November 2013 the municipality aimed at making it the most modern in the country – not an entirely modest goal in a country filled with modern, exciting library concepts.

If not the most modern, at least Avedøre Library offers several benchmarking opportunities and ideas to borrow from. One of them is simple but effective: the themed wall. An entire wall for presenting changing themes in all ways you can think of.

The wall has a built-in screen for promoting ebooks and showing short films, physical books are on display next to chalk boards and small exhibitions of items related to the theme.

Another topical idea is offering services for schools and combining pedagogical and library expertise. Avedøre Library houses a workshop with a full-time teacher. In the morning the room serves as a playgroup for children and parents who can meet over a cup of coffee while the kids are playing. In the afternoon, it becomes a workshop for children between 7 and 14 years.

The Innovation Space is designed for school and high school students. It is not a classroom and there are no chairs. Instead, there are suitcases full of stuff aimed at inspiring innovation – and you are allowed to write on the walls.
Source: Perspektiv 9/2014


Information literacy has been widely discussed and studied during the recent years but the topic – and its implementation – is not becoming less relevant, on the contrary. Danish studies on the development of students’ information literacy and experience of cooperation between educational staff and library professionals show that formalized cooperation supporting IL skills is not as common as one might think.

The same goes e.g. for Finnish public libraries and comprehensive schools. The national curricula are being updated with multiliteracies getting a lot of attention in Finland; librarians and teachers might be collaborating at the local level but without any mentions in the strategies or curricula planning ahead and securing resources might prove difficult.

Librarian support is important

In an action research project at the VIA University College a cooperational model between the library and the college was developed and tested. The results show the importance of the librarian as partner in education when supporting the students’ IL skills. What is needed, is a formalized structure for the partnership, support from the management and integration of IL skills into the curriculum.

In another project, libraries also play a strong supportive role in learning. The is both a repository and a tool for the creation of learning objects. The platform allows users to create new LOs from scratch or to make use of videos, quizzes and other bits and pieces developed by others and adapt them to local conditions. Cooperation and sharing are the key words.
Source: Revy 4/2014. The Danish Research Library Association Journal


As part of a larger gamification project Hjørring Library has been working with a group of artists to create an interactive guided tour of the library where users experience the library from new angles. They also leave small traces behind for other users to explore. Armed with headphones and an MP3 player, they are guided around the library’s services and departments.

In Aarhus where the new library building will open its doors in 2015 gamification elements are also being integrated into self-guided tours of the new premises. The game-like features are meant to motivate users not only to embark on the tour on their own, but also to help  them get a good experience out of it and actually complete the whole tour without hopping off along the way.

Game elements are of course not completely new in libraries, according to the participating libraries of Aarhus, Guldborgsund and Hjørring. A well-known method has been to engage kids through treasure hunts or to disseminate literature or film through quizzes.

The goal here has been to examine the potential of gamification as a strategic tool in different library activities. Another goal was to look at the possible pitfalls and ethical considerations involved and to engage users to interact with the library and each other.
Source: Danmarks biblioteker 5/2014


Even if loans are down by 4 per cent from 2011, the number of active users has increased in Danish libraries. The traditional materials and services are by no means disappearing. On the contrary, the number of book circles and reading clubs has increased by 300 from 2012 to 2013. Today there are 1,135 reading clubs affiliated with libraries.

These and a number of other facts and figures are presented in an overview based on data from Statistics Denmark and the Danish Agency for Culture’s annual survey.

Libraries are increasingly proactive, organising homework help, IT workshops and language cafés for different target groups.
Source: Danish Agency for Culture



Last October Finland was the guest of honour at the international Frankfurt Book Fair. It was not only the authors and publishers who were represented: the Finnish libraries were clearly visible at the Helsinki city stand with a Moomin-decorated children’s mobile library and several library professionals present. One of the library themes was the national pilot project financed by the Ministry of Education and Culture: E-resources for Finnish public libraries where libraries have successfully collaborated with publishers and vendors to be able to give library users access to Finnish-language e-books.
Sources: Finnland.Cool; the Ministry of Education and Culture


A few years ago it would have been unheard of to open a library where the furnishings were not finished. Today the principles of participatory planning often mean that library spaces are being codesigned with the users – and this can also happen after opening day and extend to other areas of library service.

Pähkinärinne Public Library in Vantaa has hired a participatory designer who will seek, encourage and develop collaborative and community activities in the area. The goal is to increase the sense of community while taking into account the requirements of sustainable development. The premises also house the local youth centre and afternoon club for school children.


Not everybody wants to use a 3D-printer or laser cutter. Another take on the maker-boom is the knitting hours which have turned out to be increasingly popular in Finnish libraries. Add a library worker who picks out a few short stories  and reads them aloud to the (almost exclusively) female group of library visitors and you have a cheap activity fit for any library.

Helsinki City Library calls them short story hooks while Tampere City Library uses the title story knit. In either case, the clicking of knitting needles and crochet hooks blends in nicely with reading aloud – you can choose to knit for charity or make a pair of woolly socks for the whole family.
Sources: Tampere City Library; Helsinki City Library



The Norwegian royal family, especially the female members, are avid library advocates. Princess Märtha Louise has apart from writing books herself given booktalks, inaugurated libraries and taken part in literary events.

Now it is Mette-Marit, the Crown Princess, who has recently attended the national library conference in Trondheim, taken part in a literary train journey through northern Norway – and in June opened a pop up library in Dronningparken, Queen’s Park, behind the castle.

The collection was placed in a gazebo and users were free to take the books with them to read on the park benches during a couple of days. The selection was picked out on the basis of book tips on Twitter using the hashtag #minbok (#mybook).
Source: Bibliotekforum 4/2014


The first Norwegian championships in storytelling and disseminating literature were held in 2012. This year the event hosted by the Aust-Agder Library had 14 participants who first recited the same poem, then a text of their own choosing. The texts could be conveyed in a number of ways: through singing, sketching, dancing or play-acting.

The jury picked out the top three for the final round and then it was time for the audience to vote for their favourites. While the title went to a teacher, librarians, teachers, nurses and other professionals were competing side by side. The second and third places went to a former excavator operator and a neuropsychologist.
Sources: Bok og bibliotek; website for the championships


The Norwegian culture index is an annual review by Telemarkforskning where e.g. museums, artists, concerts, cinema and libraries are ranked based on statistics and other data. All in all, the municipalities are rated across ten different categories all of which affect the overall ranking of the community.

The statistics used for libraries include the number of loans, library visits and active adult users with at least one borrowed title during the year. When using the more traditional, quantitative measures, the smaller libraries come out on top. The tiny municipality of Modalen with its 372 inhabitants gets a top ranking in the library category.
Source: Norsk kulturindex 2014



Placing a library in a new context in collaboration with new local partners was the motivation behind two libraries opening at communal laundries in a municipal property in the Stockholm suburb Huddinge. Books for both children and adults are available for reading while waiting for your laundry – and if you don’t have time to finish them, you can also borrow the books to take home.
Source: Biblioteksbladet 6-7/2014


Library Rankings Europe (LRE) is a project initiated by library professionals Maija Berndtson, recently retired from Helsinki City Library, and Mats Öström, who previously worked as Director of Culture and Libraries in Gävle, Sweden. They believe the ranking system to be a fruitful tool in the changing library landscape.

The goal is to rank European public libraries of all sizes from a user-centered point of view. Anonymous on-site visits, much like mystery shopping, will be used in evaluation and ranking. Unlike most of the existing standards, LRE is based on the needs of citizens. “We expect that the customer is more interested in, for example, personal service, delivery of media and opening hours” than e.g. economy, staff and visits which are the usual indicators used in evaluation.

Libraries will get their one to six stars based on their score for different service categories such as communication with users, marketing, location, architecture, visibility and accessibility, service and activities offered, premises etc.

The first libraries with a LRE ranking will be presented in 2015 and will include Hjørring Library in Denmark, Public Library of Southend-on-Sea in the UK, Savonlinna City Library in Finland and Halmstad City Library in Sweden.
Source: Biblioteksbladet 10/2014


Kista Library with its 2 400 square meters became the second largest in Stockholm August 2014. It is located in a shopping mall with nearly 200 stores and restaurants, a movie theatre and student housing. It is also on a cross-roads between an area of international hightech companies and a more socially and economically disadvantaged neighbourhood.

Both sides of the equation are multilingual, with workers and inhabitants who don’t necessarily speak Swedish fluently, if at all. The mall and the library are the bridge combining the two. The library houses a café, offers working space you can book, a stage for different kinds of events, an IT workshop and of course, comfortable seating. The staff is clearly visible in their transparent offices in the middle of the public space.
Source: Biblioteksbladet 6-7/2014

Freelance Library Specialist