Scandinavian Shortcuts



Nudging is a method where people are encouraged to choose the right solution by making it easy for them. As the public libraries of Roskilde, Vordingborg, Guldborgsund, Slagelse and Bornholm discovered, expensive or radical changes proved not to be necessary. The libraries wanted to make it possible for their users to help each other especially in the self-service libraries, or open libraries as they are called in Denmark. The aim was that a library visit would create value for another user.

Most of the budget was spent on consultant fees, but other than that, the shopping list was pretty practical and concrete: small red, yellow and green stickers, two meters of green fabric, a camera, some green paint, a few phrases written on Dymo-tape. All solutions were tested in three different libraries and the simple nudges seemed to have immediate effect.

The result: The number of false alarms from lending machines fell by a third and users started recommending books to each other when it was made easy enough. Users talk to each other more, they offer their help to one another whenever there is a problem. The self-service libraries are now more sociable places.
Source: Danmarks biblioteker 3/2015


Since 2010, the lending of music CDs has decreased by 57 percent. The trend is the same in many countries, including Finland. Music libraries are facing a change which affects their role and requires both small adjustments and more radical modifications to their services. The chief editor of Bibzoom, the Danish music website by and for libraries offering access to 25 million pieces of music, believes that libraries have every opportunity to play a central role also in the future dissemination of music but it requires cooperation.

The competition is fierce between global digital music services such as Spotify, Tidal, Apple’s Beats and YouTube’s Music Key. Still, with more libraries subscribing to the joint service – which they in turn make available for their users – the cost per library would be lower, the amount of resources larger and an even better technical music solution would be possible.

If libraries would give the local music enthusiasts and professionals the opportunity to deliver content to the service, the libraries’ combined information resources would really come into play on a common platform.

Another aspect of the role of music libraries is their status as information specialists on music and, of course, the physical space where online music can be made alive in the form of listening clubs, concerts and artist talks. This trend can be seen in e.g. Tampere in Finland where artists are more than willing to perform for a full house at the main library.
Source: Perspektiv 6/2015 and The Agency for Culture website


Libraries are perceived to be mainly about books and reading. Where does that leave students with reading difficulties? Are their needs being catered for? The public libraries of Herning, Vejle, Gentofte, Odense, Copenhagen and Aarhus together with Nota, The Danish National Library for Print Disabled, are working on a project where libraries are seen as a central learning space for the target group.

The Duo is a national network for students with reading difficulties. The eponymous project will arrange workshops and seminars for and about dyslexic students giving an insight into the students’ daily lives, of what dyslexia really means and an opportunity for two-way feedback between the target audience and the libraries.

Volunteer dyslexic students will be an integral part of the project and coaching will be used as a method. The experiences and results will be presented in a materials package made publicly available in 2016.
Source: The Agency for Culture project register


The Danish public libraries are collaborating with the national broadcasting company, Denmark’s Radio (DR). The partners have chosen the theme Entrepreneurship and Innovation which will highlight the role of the libraries as promoters of innovation in society and their contribution to creativity.

The libraries will support and network with local entrepreneurs and people who are thinking of starting their own business. They will also arrange debates and workshops around inventions and innovations. This round of collaboration will include working with the Danish version of the BBC’s Dragons’ Den where entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to investors.

The participating libraries are able to share ideas and inspiration from and with other libraries on a portal. A package of materials including the shared logo, images, templates and video clips for use both online and on the premises are available for the libraries. Many public libraries have also been posting about the events on their Facebook profile.
Source: The Central Libraries website



As in Denmark, loans of physical music recordings are declining in Finnish public libraries and librarians are re-thinking their specialist role.

In Tampere, the music library has visibly broadened the spectrum of their client work. Music enthusiasts have reason to be happy as the main library has acquired musical instruments the users can borrow: three ukuleles, an acoustic guitar and a djembe drum are the first items for loan. The lending period is two weeks and reservations can be placed.

If you don’t want to take the ukulele home you can have a go in the soundproof rehearsal rooms at the library. In addition, the library users can make their own music recordings as the library has also invested in a portable digital audio recorder which can be taken home overnight. The popular Metso LIVE concert series will be continued and the staff invite school classes for music talks, which are like book talks on music or musical trips around the world.
Source: website


A kick-off seminar for small libraries to improve their premises and services was arranged in December 2014. All participants committed to implementing at least one important change at their library by the next meet-up, be it weeding of a certain section, better signage or a cosier corner for reading. The Libraries Into Shape project wanted to help the small libraries to find and share practical ideas and tools for incremental, everyday improvement.

After the first meeting, the participating twenty library systems worked on their assignments and met again several months later to compare notes. Three libraries were awarded with a small grant and all the ideas were gathered on the project blog.

In Pudasjärvi, for example, a big service desk was removed and replaced by a display case for films, and in Paimio some of the furniture and surfaces at the children’s department were painted in bright colours. The small changes show how you don’t always have to go the whole hog and renew everything at once, a little bit can sometimes go a long way.
Sources: website and The Libraries Into Shape blog


The library staff at the universities of applied sciences was encouraged to take care of their physical wellbeing through the LibraryMOVE2015 exercise campaign. The campaign had a record attendance of 15 participating teams, 145 participants, with 9,434 hours and 92 different forms of exercise represented.

This year, great emphasis was placed on the joy of exercise, a sense of community and shared events organised by the different libraries.

The most popular forms of exercise were, as expected, walking, cycling, walking the dog and going to the gym. Some of the staff also did acrobatics and went geocaching. The winning team of the Arcada Library felt that the best part of the campaign was exercising together. “Our team spirit has improved” which is probably something the users will also experience as better service.
Source: Kreodi, the online journal of University of Applied Sciences Libraries


The Towards Koha project of five provincial libraries is planning to establish an organisation which could take over the administration and development of the open source library system, Koha, in the participating libraries. Several of the libraries have already made the decision to implement Koha, and Joensuu City Library has been running the system since June 2014.

A consortium will be formed to guarantee smooth system maintenance, a couple of programmers hired and partners in the educational and research sector identified over the course of the project. The provincial libraries of Kouvola, Oulu, Rovaniemi, Turku and Mikkeli together cover an area with 1,5 million inhabitants of the total 5,2 million in the whole country.
Source: National register over library projects. / Ministry of Education



The offer of free coffee usually works well as bait in the Scandinavian countries. Three Norwegian university and college libraries have been offering a cuppa along with tips and advice on using the Citation Compass, a newly updated tool for source evaluation, reference styles and copyright issues available at
Source: Facebook pages of the university libraries of Agder and Stavanger and the Telemark University College


Unsaid is a debate arena and workshop aimed at teenagers in the library, for, by and with the young themselves. The project organised by the Deichmanske public library in Oslo is supported by the National Library. “Cold water in the swimming pool? Too many beggars? Too much pressure at school? Is West better than East?” The topics are up to the panelists and the young audience themselves.
Sources: Facebook event for Unsaid and Deichmanske Library website


Norway celebrated the first National Library Day on August 26th this year. The day was established at the initiative of the Norwegian Library Association and aims to highlight all types of libraries in the country: academic, public, school and mobile libraries.

The first ever Library Day put the spotlight on the important social tasks libraries perform. The timing was apt as the municipal elections were held on September 14th. Several public libraries, e.g. at Våler, Kristiansand and Lørenskog, welcomed all the major parties to engage in a debate at the library.
Source: Norwegian Library Association website


Completely in line with the pronounced role of libraries as scenes for debate and stages for discussing differing points of view, the annual international festival for literature and freedom of expression Kapittel, Chapter, included a seminar on library policy in Stavanger in September.

The twenty-year-old festival has become an important literary arena both nationally and internationally. Kapittel is a dedicated platform for freedom of expression, a theme which runs through the whole program. It focuses on literary genres that usually don’t get the most public attention. The theme for this year’s library seminar was The brave library. Some of the questions covered were what it means for a library to be brave, how courage is partly about taking risks without always being sure of success and how libraries can best handle the challenges they are facing today.
Source: Seminar website for Det modige biblioteket – The brave library



Many commuters were happy to be able to borrow books on their way to or from work during the national library conference in Lund this year. The public library offered a pop-up library in the small pedestrian tunnel connecting the Lund Central Railway Station with the platforms. The library got a lot of publicity, and the staff welcomed the chance to interact with users outside of the library building. The items borrowed could be returned to the local libraries. Even if there’s been a decline

in library visits, pop-up libraries might help increase book lending, the staff believe.
Source: Biblioteksbladet 5/2015


The library can be a part of everyday life as well as special occasions: now you can borrow a picnic basket at Gävle Public Library. The baskets come with an accompanying blanket and users are able to buy coffee from the library café, the biscuits you’ll have to bring yourself.

There is a selection of books you’re free to take with you – and keep, if you so wish – or return to the library the following day together with the basket. There is a lawn outside the library where you can sit and read and enjoy all the benefits the local library has to offer.
Source: Peter Alsbjerg’s blog


Literature is good for you, even if your work is more of the academic variety. That is the idea behind the Book Relay programme where staff and students pick their favourite books and present them to others. Both Malmö and Linköping university libraries have tried out the programme developed at the Copenhagen University Library and the results are encouraging: after initial hesitation faculties have taken part. Each new relay round begins with an opening where the twenty books are exhibited and briefly presented.

The concept includes submitting the pjokitalo AT relay baton to the next reader, someone from another discipline. Even if the librarians behind the concept stress that reading fiction has value in itself, there are also other conceivable benefits. To be able to write well you need to be a fluent reader. It also seems that the critical thinking skills of students in humanities – where fiction has a more prominent role – are better than those of economics students. All the more reason to incorporate a Book Relay into the programme of any field of research.
Source: Biblioteksbladet 4/2015


The Malmö University Library conducted a user survey to find out how happy the students were with the study environment provided. 750 students responded to the questionnaire. The data and the open comments will be used to improve the services and the library will be looking especially at the possibility of more study places, the need for more quiet zones and clearer signage. Over 37 percent of the respondents
wished for more public access computers.

Almost 80 percent of the students who took the survey borrowed books from the library, while around 70 percent also used the library for individual study – with the same amount of respondents using the library for working in groups.
Source: Malmö University Library website


The Danish Agency for Culture has awarded the Kista Public Library in Stockholm with the prize and the title of Public Library of the Year 2015.

The award is a part of the Danish Model Programme for Public Libraries with IT company Systematic as sponsor and was established in 2014. This year, the Danish Agency for Culture cooperated with IFLA’s Public Libraries section.

The recognition is awarded according to criteria set by the Model Programme. The awarded library must have been recently built from scratch or renovated in premises not originally built as a library. The aim of the international prize is to inspire good library design, both architecture and service design. The jury stated that the Kista Public Library, designed by Wester + elsner Architects and located in a shopping centre in central Stockholm, is a sustainable project with playful architecture, flexible solutions and adaptable features.

The involvement of the Kista Public Library in social media and maker culture were some of the factors mentioned in the motivation of the jury, as well as the various partnerships and the focus on hiring staff with a wide range of expertise and language skills. The other four nominees were the Devonport Library in New Zealand, the Library at the Dock, Australia, the Narok Library, Kenya and the Sant Gervasi-Joan Maragall library, Spain.
Source: The Danish Agency for Culture website

Freelance Library Specialist