Scandinavian Shortcuts



Over 1,400 users had registered on the new national children’s website in just three days. Themes for the so far 160 discussion groups range from Minecraft to F.C. Barcelona and from drones to animals. Anyone can create a group where members share photos, videos and links, much in the same way as on e.g. Facebook. As is meant for children, safety issues are important.

The members can flag contents they find offending and the staff will either remove the content or talk to the user responsible. The meaning of the service is to act as a safe environment for children before they move onto other social media. The login practice guarantees that parents cannot access their children’s profiles or contents without permit.

In Gladsaxe a groundbreaking playground is being built next to the main library. The goal is to combine play and learning and give the whole town a boost. An area of 3,500 m2 will be a green oasis with themed play areas. The library is taking an active role in town design with the project. The park is one way to draw new inhabitants, especially families with children, to Gladsaxe. The playground project aims at making the municipal cultural services more visible, and the whole town livelier and greener than before. It is meant to act as the architectural centrepiece for a meeting place.

A big bookcase will be catching the eye from a distance, swings, slides and climbing frames will be available together with characters, themes and citations from children’s literature. The themes of the park will seamlessly continue into the building and the children’s department. The playground will be used for concerts and theatrical performances, it is meant to support reading, learning and language development in children.
Copenhagen Libraries website
Danmarks biblioteker 1/2016


While debate groups for locals and immigrants are not exactly unheard of, it is always good to hear from examples that work. Vejle Libraries are exploring how discussion groups could be used to help integrate immigrants and refuge seekers. The young users have already met in groups which have been marketed by the young themselves on Facebook. They have chosen the themes and lead the conversation with an adult chairperson for help and support. The library offers its premises as meeting place.

Since the model has worked well for two years, it is now being adapted for immigrants with the help of volunteers and library staff. The new debate groups will vary in size and are meant to support democracy and dialogue in Vejle in collaboration with the local Red Cross.

Vejle Municipality’s is also participating in the international 100 Resilient Cities project, which receives support from the Rockefeller Foundation. The goal of this new urban network is to create more resistant cities. All in all, Vejle Municipality hopes with this and the debate project to help create resiliente, robust refugees and immigrants.
Danmarks biblioteker 1/2016


Stories are in! Storytelling is a hot topic in presentations, articles and social media. Stories are being connected to impact evaluation and marketing. Stories are not only confined to the pages of books, not even in libraries. Fuglebjerg Library has arranged several storytelling events where the participants tell their life story.

The previous workshops have resulted in a book, and now the library has started a storytelling café. The afternoon kicks off with a half-hour presentation followed by three questions which are discussed during a cup of coffee. Then participants are under no obligation to contribute, neither is there any homework as was the case in the workshops.
Naestved Public Library website


Many of the new learning environments make you – or at least me – wish you were a student again! At the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) the students now have access to a lab where they can explore data digitally at the Faculty Library of Social Sciences. You can bring your own laptop, but the Digital Social Science Lab (DSSL) also offers iMacs, projectors, big touchscreens and new ways of exploring data. Do you want to pretend you’re in a futuristic jungle? This might be the place for you.
University Post online



Sometimes disobeying and going public with it pays off. Kai Ekholm, the director of the Finnish National Library reacted strongly against the extensive lay-offs being planned for the library as part of the co-determination negotiations in the university sector.

According to Mr Ekholm, the budget cuts would mean returning to the service level of the 1960’s and 1970’s. The cuts would also put following the constitutional law in jeopardy and he downright refused firing any of the staff. His statement resulted in television appearances and numerous newspaper articles – and a reduction to the number of lay-offs at the National Library.
National Library website
Helsingin Sanomat online
Finnish Broadcasting Company website


More and more libraries are introducing floating collections locally or even regionally. While Jyväskylä and Oulu City Libraries have been floating their collections for a few years, Espoo and Vantaa in the metropolitan region have started more recently. In Vantaa, circulation is up by 10 percent, some libraries report even bigger increases of up to 48 percent compared to last year.

This year, two more regional central libraries, Tampere and Rovaniemi, began floating their materials. In all of these libraries, the materials remain at the library where they were returned. Users can also borrow a book from one library and return it to another within the area. Users in Tampere were quick with their positive reactions: “Makes my life easier” was one comment on Twitter.
Kirjastolehti 2/2016
Tampere City Library website


Finna, the web service combining the materials of over 40 museums, around 30 libraries and a dozen archives, grew sharply during 2015. Over 50 new organizations, a substantial increase in materials and better usability resulted in a doubling of the amount of searches, the length of the visits increased by 50 percent.

In February, an open application programming interface was published, letting anyone access the metadata for almost 9 million entries. A new search function with more than 200,000 open-licence images from the Finnish cultural heritage was also introduced. Users can now search for images available for e.g. commercial use or education. These images include photographs from the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games and visual material on Finnish saunas and sauna culture. website



In a city visited by hundreds of thousands – if not already millions – each year, it makes sense that also the library gets involved. The guided walking tours offered by Reykjavík City Library since 2003 promote Icelandic literature in a fun way. As several Icelandic crime writers have recently been translated into numerous languages (including English, check out e.g. Arnaldur Indriðason) the free of charge Dark Deeds in Reykjavik tour has proved popular. And while we’re on the subject of walking, the Reykjavík Culture Walks App helps you to discover the city’s sites through tours curated by the City Library, the Reykjavik UNESCO City of Literature and other cultural institutions in the city. Get acquainted with Saga literature, Halldór Laxness or Sjón.
Reykjavik City Library website


Most children like monsters. A group of children prepared a short play based on scenes from the popular children’s books about a little and a big monster, working together with an actress at the Culturehouse Gerðubergi. The production focused on expressing emotions and collaborating with others. The performance was given at the monster show exhibition at the library. The exhibition supported by the Nordic Culture Council will be travelling from Reykjavik to the Faroe Islands and Sweden during the next two years.
Reykjavik City Library website


Libraries are adapting to changes in teaching methods and studying habits, also in Iceland. The National Library tries to cater for the sharp increase in students working together by making more space available for group work. The different floors in the library have different rules: teamwork and conversation on one level, quiet space without coffee to spill or snacks to eat on another.
The Student Council of the University of Iceland website



The interior of the newly renovated Tøyen Library in Oslo has already created a positive buzz on Facebook with its comfortable seating groups, attractive work space and secluded corners for concentrated reading. While the library offers peace and quiet, the long communal tables may invite visitors to discussions. There is also a stage for debates and interviews. What’s more, most of the furniture is made of recycled materials, old doors serve as space dividers, lamps are made of metal pots and pans. Eye candy for any library user!
Norway’s Library Association website
Deichmanske Library Facebook page


Libraries everywhere are balancing with different, often contradictory needs when it comes to the noise levels on the premises. Libraries are, after all, one of the very few places of peace and quiet in today’s society but no library can be completely silent anymore. Luckily, there are several solutions available. One way to turn down the overall volume of a library is to reserve certain spaces and times for silence.

Bergen Public Library is one of the initiators of the national day of silence. Together with the Norwegian Library Association and the Association Against Noise, the library set extra focus on silence on May 2nd. Every area has been prescribed a limit: 20 decibels for the café, 25 for the children’s department, 10 for the silent reading room. Sound level meters installed in the ceilings make the lights flash if the noise level exceeds the prescribed limit for that particular area. On the day of silence the sound level was set at 10 decibels for the whole library.
Bergen Public Library Facebook page


Library users in Norway really have it made during their lunch break! Several university, college and public libraries offer interesting programs – coffee included (but bring your own lunch) – in the middle of the day. Levanger Public Library offers book talks every Thursday at noon, University College of Southeast Norway Libraries organize monthly lunch breaks with presentations on current research themes at the university.

Some of the recent topics for the Knowledge for Lunch talks have been e.g. whether consumers really have power when it comes to the grocery industry, history of oil and the ethics and use of welfare technology in the care of the elderly.
Levanger Public Library Facebook page


SMS literature is still a relatively unknown concept but around forty Danish libraries are already making short stories and poetry written specifically for use on mobile phones available for their users. Sølvberget Public Library is the first in Norway to offer access to the same service. The selection of the Danish SMSpress so far includes 13 original Norwegian titles, the rest are translations from Danish and Swedish.

What’s exciting about the service is that the titles are divided into several messages and the user doesn’t know the exact times she/he will receive the next SMS. Each title consists of up to five text messages per day, over a period of up to five days. There is also a measure of interactivity thrown in. According to the library, it is important to explore the different formats of literature – the format may change but stories will prevail.
Bok og bibliotek 1/2016



I don’t think any of you can have missed the bookface Friday phenomenon. You know the funny photos where library staff is photographed with a book cover which melts into their person in the picture. You then post the picture on Facebook or Instagram where it acts as a book tip and advertisement for the library.

As the rest of the weekdays are open for other use, Lund University Library has started their own reading tip Tuesday when the staff share their recommendations on the best information resources such as this.
Lund University Library Facebook page


Inspired by the Jane-athons organised by ALA Publishing and RDA Development Team, the Swedish National Library arranged its local version, Selmathon,

Selma being the Swedish author Selma Lagerlöf, the first female writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1909. The aim of the day – “a whole day completely free from MARC format” – was for cataloguers, developers and system suppliers together to explore the RDA and FRBR and have fun!

National Library website


Self-service public libraries where users also have access to the library outside staffed hours are already a permanent fixture in all of Scandinavia. A self-service cultural house, on the other hand, is a new concept. After a renovation, the municipality of Alingsås will open both its main library and its art gallery for self-service for its population of 40,000. During renovation, the library has made pocket books available at the local shopping mall, grocery stores and the town museum. Newspapers have been placed at local cafés – and readers are under no obligation to buy coffee and cake.
Framisidan website


To support and promote reading is still one of the most important tasks of libraries. Literapp, a literary mobile app, is meant to do just that. The app combines literary work and writing, literature, literary places of interest and new literary contents. It is a collaboration between libraries, Umeå University, illustrators, designers, publishing houses and, of course, app developers.

Literapp can be used as an educational tool by libraries and schools, but it is also meant to bring literary works and persons behind them alive for all readers: users will be able to read and listen to stories, get information, study maps, pictures and illustrations on the setting of the stories. The County Library of Västerbotten coordinates the project and will start by tying in the local literary settings with the stories and authors of the region.
Biblioteksbladet 1/2016


Freelance Library Specialist