Scandinavian Shortcuts



Up until now Denmark has had two libraries with national tasks. The tasks of the State and University Library at Aarhus University have included developing new services for public libraries and supporting their services to ethnic minorities and immigrants. The Royal Library has been the home of the national bibliography and both libraries have acted as depository libraries. Now the libraries will join forces and merge into a new National Library at the beginning of 2017. Both will continue to serve users in their current premises at the universities of Aarhus and Copenhagen.
Source: Royal Library website


“I often use the library and borrow books, but there was a lot I did not know. For example, Press Reader, where you can read newspapers from around the world. I’m going to use it also in my work as a health care assistant.” That was the comment from one of the participants in the project run by Copenhagen libraries and SOPU, a local school offering vocational training programmes within health care and education.

The aim of the project New Library Service, was to pick new target groups and develop ways to present library services so that they would fit the themes in teaching. The health care students were not all familiar with the library and some had difficulties with reading or language. It was important to pick the right time for the library instruction so that the services would feel relevant. Students were introduced to the library, shown around and presented with services and resources they can use both in their study and future careers.
Source: Danmarks biblioteker 5/2016


Fantasy, friendship, animals and horror are some of the themes by which readers aged 7-14 can look for e-books and audiobooks in the new eReolen Go service, designed for young users. The new website is the independent younger sibling of the eReolen and it is available to all library card holders in Denmark. A number of schools are registered users which means the pupils have access to the service through their school.
Source: eReolen GO website


Aalborg Libraries collaborate with Danish Radio, the national library web services (national OPAC), eReolen (website on e-resources) and Litteratursiden (literature website) strengthening the dissemination of literature to their users. Lately, the libraries in Aalborg have focused on key themes such as loneliness and entrepreneurship.

At the same time, the library has shared their experiences with other libraries in the country which has helped them reach an even larger audience together. 56 libraries, 10 different network media and a local ad agency are among the partners. Aalborg has made literature available both in the library premises and online in innovative ways. This model earned Aalborg Libraries a recognition from the Ministry of Culture for their work in literature promotion.
Source: Danmarks biblioteker 5/2016


International students come to Copenhagen – and elsewhere in Scandinavia – to study, get their degrees and go back home without making friends with too many locals or getting to know the local culture. It walks both ways: the local community isn’t often affected by the students who socialise with other foreign students. Library Candle Light Dinners organised by Copenhagen University and the Student house are one of the ways to change this.

The participants of a mentoring programme where the mentees are paired with Danish students are invited to dinner at the Royal Library. An evening of food and drink, quizzes, music and dance – and networking – is organised twice a year. The library has proved to be a good location for the events, and the Student House has expertise in running the logistics of big events with sound systems, catering, DJs and live music. Libraries support integration, the wellbeing of students and cultivate diversity. This is one way of doing just that.
Source: Danish Union of Librarians website



Oulu City Library is developing and setting up a library showroom offering library visitors an opportunity to explore innovative new products and services in a library setting. The showroom idea originates from Helsinki City Library where a similar service has been tested and a mobile version has circulated in libraries around Southern Finland. Start-up companies and local firms are invited to present their prototypes or new services to the public. The showroom acts as a free demonstration point, and a low-threshold space for collecting customer feedback.
Oulu City Library website website


Fifty clues are hidden in schools, museums and libraries but also scattered in social media and Minecraft. When a player enters a code word on the Rosa’s code game website, they will be able to follow the animated story where Rosa is trying to save the world from the Griefmaster. With every new code the players will get a step further in the game.

As programming is now a part of the new National Core Curriculum, new ways of introducing the thinking behind coding are being developed. One of them is Rosa’s code which is a collaboration between the Finnish Broadcasting Company, and the Finnish Museums Association.
Source: Rosa’s code website


Libraries, municipalities, associations and senior citizen service centres have been organising donations of reading time by volunteers to the elderly for some time. The model has spread across the country during the last couple of years with new municipalities catching on every month. In Järvenpää, the public library and the local Settlement House invited the volunteers to share their experiences and discuss a new form of the reading moment service where volunteers will read to the elderly in their own homes as part of the outreach services of the library.
Source: website


A building designed by the renowned Finnish architect Alvar Aalto, now Otaniemi Campus Library, has gone through a thorough refurbishment lately. When the new Learning Center opened its door on 31st October, it replaced the campus libraries scattered in the metropolitan area in and around Helsinki.

A lot of thought, design thinking and user engagement, not to mention sticky notes, workshops, and user interviews, have gone into the redesign process of the premises and services. The result is a modern space designed for the users, from a user-viewpoint. Parts of the Learning Center are open for students 24/7, customer service is available six days and 58 hours a week.
Source: The Aalto University Library’s website



With emphasis on family libraries in Iceland, the public library in Hafnarfjarðar offers new parents and parents-to-be a chance to meet for a chat. The library also organises lectures for parents, story hours and baby cinema screenings. Coffee, tea and good company are included. In Kópavogur the local library hosts secondhand sales of children’s clothes and regular breakfast meetings for parents.
Sources: Hafnarfjarðar Facebook pages


Judging from Facebook, the knitting frenzy has reached Iceland and its libraries (or maybe it’s here, in the land of hand knit wool sweaters, the whole thing started, who knows?) Users gather in libraries for needlework in good company, for stories and inspiration from books and magazines.
Sources: Hafnarfjarðar Facebook pages


When library staff from around Iceland met at the national library conference arranged by Upplýsing, the Icelandic Library and Information Science Association, the subjects and themes sounded familiar: there were sessions and talks on libraries as community centres, change in libraries, libraries and multiculturalism, reading and the diverse literacies, cataloguing and classification. Even some of the speakers were the same as e.g. in the recent Reshape conference in Helsinki where Knud Schulz presented the new public library Dokk1 of Aarhus, Denmark. It goes to show we’re facing the same issues in all of Scandinavia – and probably elsewhere, too.
Source: Upplýsing, the Icelandic Library and Information Science Association



Berg public library may be small but its influence goes beyond the statistics. The little public/school library was awarded as library of the year 2015 for its role in integration. With a part-time chief post in a community of 900 inhabitants speaking 23 different languages, it is a real achievement that the arrangements have at times been visited by as many as 200 people.

The library has profiled itself as a community social arena with the local sports club as partner. Regular and open planning meetings have been held at the library together with the local sewing society.

Other collaborators include the local health services and the small business centres. At the library, local fishermen have been seen deep in conversation with young Arab men and Eritrean girls have knitted mittens with help from the locals.
Bok og bibliotek website
Berg public library website


Library is a good starting point for learning the local language. In the Holmlia branch of Deichmanske bibliotek/ Oslo public library, mothers with small children are able to learn the language needed in specific situations. In the weekly twohour sessions, mothers can exercise communicating with e.g. kindergartens and health care professionals. Children are welcome and child care is provided.
Source: Oslo public library website


The University of Oslo Library offers a range of interesting arrangements on science as part of their Waffles and Science series. Some of the weekly discussions are produced in cooperation with the Norwegian Broadcast Company’s radio programme Ekko. Why do your feet get stuck on the floor while standing in the shower?

Why do some leaves turn yellow and some red in the autumn? Why has peanut allergy become so widespread? These are some of the questions which were addressed at a recent discussion at the library. All the arrangements start with coffee and waffles followed by inspiring presentations of scientific topics.
Source: University of Oslo Library website


All of Rogaland is reading kicked off its ninth year this autumn. To make sure all inhabitants were able to participate, everybody could get a free copy of this year’s pick, Erika Fatland’s novel Sovjetistan at the libraries. The community reading campaign started in Stavanger in 2008 and was expanded to include the whole county a couple of years later.

Today, it is a collaboration between the libraries in the region, Rogaland County, Chamber of Commerce plus the Confederation of Trade Unions and the Savings Bank Foundation who also support the project financially. The aim of the project is to provide the population of Rogaland with a shared reading experience and increase interest in literature.
Source: Rogaland County Council website



“Libraries are churches for people who don’t know what to believe in” was a comment from illustrator Viveka Sjögren, one of the awarded authors, libraries and librarians in eight categories at the Swedish Library Association’s prize ceremony. She received an award for the picture book Om du skulle fråga Micha [If you were to ask Micha].

Among the prize-winners was the mobile library in Jönköping: a library, cinema, music and events arena for users, old and young. The mobile library has brought sports, dance, music, kite flying, games and crafts to schools and kindergartens. And quite rightly, it was solemnly inaugurated by children at the Kaxholmen preschool with ribbon-cutting, speeches and refreshments.

One of the awarded library professionals was Peter Björkman who has been working with reading groups for long-term unemployed adults with limited literacy skills. He has been collaborating with stakeholders in the local community, with associations, adult education and employment agencies.
Source: Swedish Library Association website


The libraries at the Chalmers University of Technology and Gothenburg University offered a varied programme for students and faculty during the international Open Access Week. In one seminar researchers were encouraged to work with Wikipedia. As the articles often end up high on the list of search results in Google, improving them with simple edits or writing new ones is a great way to spread science and research, reminded the libraries.

Another topic was Kriterium, a portal for publication and dissemination of highquality academic books. In order to receive the Kriterium quality seal, publications undergo a peer review process after which they are freely available through open access, in print as well as online.
Source: Gothenburg University Library website


While book loans are on the decrease, public libraries are offering more and more events, courses and lectures in their premises. The total number of different kinds of activities in Swedish libraries was 130.000 last year. Two thirds of all activities were directed at children, which is in line with the general priorities in public libraries.

The most active library was Emmalunda hosting most events per capita (88 programmes for every 1000 inhabitants). DNA genealogy, Safe mushrooms and rare delicacies, traditional story hours and writing workshops for children were on the agenda this autumn.
Source: Biblioteksbladet website


Code, creation and concept were the three themes of the Hack4Heritage event organised by Digisam, a secretariat for National coordination of digitisation, digital preservation and digital access to cultural heritage, and the city archive of Stockholm. The data of the National Library was part of the heritage freely available for hacking including digitised versions of manuscripts, maps, newspapers, sound recordings and the national bibliography Libris.

Amongst the resulting 13 pilot projects were a name creator, a narrative game about life, mourning and religious uncertainty in late Viking Age Upland, and a personalised museum app matching the interests and background of the visitor with an exhibition. Digisam Flickr CC
Source: The Digisam website

Freelance Library Specialist