Scandinavian Shortcuts


Students only!

Students Only! is The Royal Library’s cultural network for students giving the members access to exclusive special events in The Black Diamond library. The members get a unique opportunity to meet with researchers, artists, authors and debaters. Previous Students only! guests include Hillary Clinton and Ban Ki-moon. The website informs of internships at the library and of student discounts and last minute offers on other events. More than 9,000 students from the Copenhagen area have already signed up.
Source: Students only! website

Taking a stance

Taking part in the democratic decisionmaking process and being heard can make all the difference for young people. It creates a sense of belonging and strengthens the community spirit. This is the reasoning behind the Take a stance project, a cooperation between the local high school, adult education college and the public libraries. The arrangements take place in the library with the young participants aged 15 to 29 taking the lead.

In a debate in September, young local politicians discussed the Dogs Act and the Firearms Act with high school students. The audience took a vote for or against the acts both before and after the debate – and some changes in attitudes could be seen after the lively discussion. The libraries’ role in disseminating knowledge and promoting democracy lends itself well to this kind of collaboration.
Source: Danish Library Association website

Welcome to Denmark and its libraries

The current stream of asylum seekers has repercussions also for libraries. The Scandinavian library associations have issued statements declaring their support for the refugees. In a photo exhibition at the Hvalsø Library and Archive, the Syrian refugees told their own stories, in their own words. The exhibition had two goals: to break down stereotypes by showing the humans, the individuals, behind the news headlines and getting the newly arrived immigrants to use the library services such as the homework help.

In Skive the Culture and Conversation Café is a successful example of how a group of library users has taken ownership of a library activity. The public library provides the framework: two adjoining rooms, and the group fills the space with 40-50 refugees and ethnic Danes once a week. Many of the participants have come to Denmark quite recently, most from Syria, Somalia and Eritrea. 

In November, The State and University Library in Aarhus focused on Kurdish culture. The number of Kurds living in Denmark is estimated between 25,000 and 40,000. The seminar gave the participating library professionals a better insight into the Kurdish culture and the languages spoken by the Kurds, which makes it easier to adapt library services to this population.
Danmarks biblioteker 5/2015
Danish Union of Librarians website
State and University Library website

Trendspotting – whose project is the best?

Horsens public library and the Danish Library Association announced the Trendspotter 2016 competition in autumn 2015. The three winning libraries will get a free exhibition booth and a chance to present their project at the library policy summit. The audience will consist not only of library professionals but local politicians from the whole country. What a fun but simple way to activate the participants and promote the summit!
Source: Danish Library Association website

Lego library

A stop-motion film made with Danish Lego bricks may well tell more than a thousand words. Copenhagen University Library has created an introductory film for new students using an iPhone, a whole lot of Lego bricks and a selection of library photos as background. In September the film had a big premiere at the Faculty Library of Social Science with invited guests, popcorn and drinks.
Danish Research Library website
Library Lab. Library, learning and lego.
Blog by Christian Lauersen


Edward the street librarian on film

The Street Librarian is an inspiring documentary about the work of regional librarian Edward Fungo in Morogoro, Tanzania. He covers an area of 70.000 square kilometres and 2 million people with the aim of making Tanzania into an information society – one person at a time.

Edward’s work is supported by the Libraries and Development project administered by Finnish Library Association. The most important target groups are women, young people at risk of social exclusion, small businesses and farmers in Tanzania and Namibia. The documentary is a collaboration between the project and the Finnish Library Channel and the film is freely available for use in education or public events.
Source: Library Channel website

High score on popularity

Networking, architecture, good collections, highly educated professionals… these are characteristics of Finnish libraries. Thanks to these elements of quality, we can add one more word to the list: popularity. Public, academic and special libraries are well visited and used even on the internet era. In public libraries the total annual lending was 18 items per citizen in 2011. The amount of downloads in academic libraries was 84 per student or staff member in 2011. Web visits now exceed physical visits.

All Finnish libraries are open and free to everybody, including university and research libraries, the Parliament Library and the Finnish National Library.

The role of librarians in teaching media skills

Media literacy and education is a current and widely discussed topic in Finnish libraries. The schools are working on a new core curriculum and the Library Act is being revised – both reforms see media skills and multiliteracy as essential for all citizens and a prerequisite for lifelong learning. Turku City Library has put together a media education plan for the different target groups. The concepts of media education, multiliteracy, information literacy and media skills are discussed, and the target groups from preschool children to senior citizens are covered. The plan is published under a Creative Commons non-commercial-use license.
Source: website

Best practices in serving the newly arrived

Many libraries in Finland – and their Scandinavian neighbours – are collecting donations of books in languages the newly arrived asylum seekers speak. The Finnish Library Association is gathering best practices on its Facebook page and the Library Channel has produced an introduction of the Multilingual Library. Helsinki City Library together with mobile network operator Elisa and LM Information Services are providing a wireless network and access to electronic newspapers and magazines through Press- Reader, the online service used by Helsinki City Library, for the residents of ten reception centres run by the Finnish Red Cross. The trial lasts until the end of 2015 with an option for extension into 2016.
Library Channel website website
Finnish Library Association Facebook page
HelMet metropolitan libraries’ website

More e-books for students

The National Library is promoting the supply of Finnish electronic textbooks for university and polytechnic students. The project is a collaboration with four domestic publishers, several libraries and ebook vendor Ellibs whose platform is being used to make the books available.

New models and solutions are being sought particularly when it comes to pricing models and making the books available through the libraries.

The e-textbooks are available during the academic year 2015-2016. During the test period, the National Library will the gather the experiences and views on the participating libraries, publishers and users of the purchasing, sales and use of the e-textbooks.

A report will published in 2016.
Source: website

From e-books and journals to simulators

The information services of the Kanta- Häme central hospital are provided by the Häme University of Applied Sciences library. Since less space is needed for the print collection, the library has acquired computer-based simulation hardware and software for the hospital staff. The users also have access to three computers, a scanner, copier and printer. The simulator was placed in the library premises because of the opening hours and the peaceful surroundings. The Simball Box simulator can be used for laparoscopic training. The library is considering the purchase of other computer-based simulation tools  they require even less space than the simulation hardware now acquired. In clinical medicine, knowledge alone has no value if you cannot apply it to practice.
Source: Kreodi, the online magazine of the universities of applied sciences libraries

Designing the future library

Helsinki is planning a new central library scheduled to open in 2018. In planning for this, the Helsinki City Library organized a conference to share experiences and exchange ideas.

Design Director of the global KONE Corporation, Anne Stenros, opened the conference with the keynote address and pointed out with telling statistics that what we today assume to be the normal customer will not be so in the near future. So we must be prepared to alter our way of thinking regarding to whom we are designing our services and our future users.

The current plans for the new Central Library was presented. Participants also followed presentations from different cities in Europe that have recently built libraries or are in some stage of planning new libraries or renovating existing ones. As these libraries do not develop in a vacuum, it was a god way to provide a benchmark for quality of public libraries.
Source: website


New strategy – visibility for public libraries

A new national library strategy for 2015–2018 was launched by the Norwegian Ministry of Culture and the National Library in August 2015. The strategy strengthens the public libraries’ role as meeting places and spaces for culture and learning. Libraries can apply for funding to e.g. develop the infrastructure needed to perform as arenas for discussion and debate.
National Library website
Bibliotekaren 7/2015

More money for Arabic literature in libraries

The National Library has allocated 100 000 NOK for purchases of books in Arabic for the Multilingual Library which serves the municipal libraries in the country. As in so many countries, the growing number of asylum seekers has resulted in an acute shortage of literature in the less common languages. While many local libraries have arranged their own collections of donations, the centralised service is invaluable.

In the words of a Syrian family who came to Norway last year, “Norway is very different to Syria. The climate is even colder than we expected. But when we found Kurdish literature in the library, we knew we had come somewhere where freedom was a reality.”
National Library of Norway website
Amnesty International website

Quiz night at Stavanger University Library

The University Library in Stavanger invited all international students to an informal quiz night at the library. The students were encouraged to make use of their local knowledge and learn more or less useful facts about the Norwegians while enjoying a well-deserved study break. Teams of 2 to 6 members were advised to sign up in advance by email, prizes for winning teams and refreshments all round were offered. A fun way to introduce the library and its services to foreign students – or any students, for that matter.
Source: Stavanger University Library Facebook page

Food for thought during National Science Week 2015

The National Science Week is an annual cooperation between research institutes, universities, museums and libraries. School children, students and the more adult public can all take part in the around 1000 arrangements around the country. Researchers can be booked to speak in classrooms, associations or companies during lunch. Science fairs are held in several towns and cities. The common theme for the 21st Science Week held in September 2015 was food.

At Bergen University Library the users showed great interest in the lunch lecture where a geographer and an economist discussed food and politics before an interested and active audience. Other topics for the lunch lectures at the libraries included food culture throughout history, food in literature, food, climate and society as well as diet and improvement in 19th and 20th century Norway. In Bergen, the week ended with an evening event at the Library for the Humanities where the theme was alcohol through the ages.

And while we are on the subject of lunches, the student society in Bergen organises lunch lectures in cooperation with and at the premises of the local public library. The topics are not a light matter, though. “What do you think when you see a little girl alone at the Bergen railway station? That she’s waiting for her Mom – or that she’s a victim of trafficking?” That particular lecture focused on the victims of prostitution in the city with presenters from local organisations who are familiar with the problem. For the first 50 participants there was such a thing as a free lunch, the rest got free coffee.
Bergen University Library Facebook page
Student Society website


Stockholm Public Library welcomes refugees

In recent months, there have been many thousand asylum seekers in Sweden, of which a great part in the Stockholm area, and as well unaccompanied minors. The children’s mobile library, the Children’s Bookbus, visits asylum accommodations offering books and library information in various languages. The multilingual staff keep storytime sessions in English and Arabic and other current languages.

Stockholm Public Library allows people to obtain library cards without ID or other official papers to be able to borrow books, read newspapers, use computers and internet free of charge. Other relevant activities in the libraries in Stockholm are study help in association with different non-profit organizations. Right now the library tries to organize our mini-mobile libraries/pop-up libraries at appropriate locations to read on site while awaiting asylum information or on their way to other destinations.
Source: IFLA/Stockholm Public Library

Meet your librarian on Instagram

Karlstad University Library invited all students to meet and follow their subject librarians on Instagram and Facebook. During the autumn term, all subject librarians were giving tips on e-books, links to useful websites and other resources. Every librarian got a week on social media to present themselves to the students. The students were also offered information on how to use LinkedIn and a Swedish project exchange online service. The instruction was organized by the study workshop, an equivalent of the academic writing workshop in Örebro, run by the library.
Source: Karlstad University Library website

Social media as tools of the trade

To continue on the subject of social media, the work around the national library strategy will also make use of social media, starting with Facebook. Erik Fichtelius, a prominent Swedish journalist, will be coordinating the strategy work. The working group has already opened a Facebook page, a forum open for anyone. To get the conversation going, a different theme such as school libraries or interlibrary lending will be featured every week. The coordinating staff hope for a dialogue and mean to use the information and opinions gathered as basis for developing the national strategy.
Source: Biblioteksbladet website

Reading hammock

In Järnvägsparken, the Railway Park, at Rönneå four hammocks were stretched out for the library visitors during the summer. Some playhouses for the children and furniture for those who prefer to do their reading on a firmer ground were acquired by the municipality. The books – e.g. children’s books and poetry – were selected by the library, but the idea came from the municipal department of urban environment. Instead of books being stolen (as some of the more negatively inclined feared beforehand), the collection grew during the summer: readers left their own books for other users to enjoy. The popular hammock library will be back next year.
Source: Biblioteksbladet 8/2015

Access across borders 

The National Library of Sweden and the Åbo Akademi University Library in Finland are collaborating on giving the researchers and teaching staff access to the same digital resources. Remote access to the libraries’ collections will naturally require new licensing agreements. To avoid wasting time in printing out digitised material and sending it on the post when using the interlibrary loan system is one of the more concrete goals of the project. The pilot project aims to find solutions to this and any other problems that may arise. Several questions remain to be resolved, though, before the service can be launched.
Source: National Library of Sweden website

Help in academic writing at university libraries

Several university libraries offer counselling in academic writing for the students. One of these is Örebro University Library where students can book an appointment in advance or use the services of the language workshop on a drop-in basis. Help is available in Swedish and English, and English assignments are prioritised on specific days. The workshop language consultants can e.g. help with text structure and writing abstracts.
Source: Örebro University Library website

Freelance Library Specialist