Network of Nordic Public Libraries

Friday, 04 March 2011 14:29

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Photo: Aarhus Public Libraries

A network of seven libraries from five Nordic countries thinks there is a lot to gain from being able to use each other’s expertise. Network of Nordic Public Libraries is co-producing new concepts for the future public libraries in the Nordic countries.

Af: Annu Kevarinmäki

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“Many of the projects and network initiatives we take, actually have a background in that we self have a huge need for developing new ideas. That is also the background for this network,” tells Knud Schultz, the chief librarian for the main library in Århus and the initiator for the Network of Nordic Public Libraries. 

As the main library in Århus is getting ready to move to a new location at the new Urban MEDIASPACE, expected to be finished in 2014, Shultz is using the network to gather experiences from the other network partners about the different functions of a library today: “We see our colleagues that are taking part in the network innovation camps, in fact, as user-driven innovation for our new construction. They come with a lot of ideas and input, and hence they are in fact user representatives, because we hereby can get experience from something that is perhaps five times as large as the amount of experience found in Denmark. And this is absolutely vital for us. "

Network of Nordic Public Libraries consists of Helsinki City Library, libraries Borgarbókasafn Reykjavíkur, Bókasafn Kópavogs and Amtsbókasafnið á Akureyri from Iceland, Deichmanske Library in Oslo, Stockholm Public Library and Aarhus Public Libraries. The Network's primary goals are library development at a strategic level, development of ideas and expertise on the staff level and development of network relations between the 7 Nordic public libraries. Moreover, the network is focusing on communicating the network’s strategies, methods and ideas further to other library networks.

Network’s wiki platform is in active use, showing that also the other network partners are in need of benefiting from a broader reference group when finding solutions in their work. Here the participants can post material from the annual network meetings, continue the discussions which began during the meetings in various thematic subgroups and take initiative to additional events and meetings. Network results and discussions are disseminated through the wiki and articles written by the network partners to national journals.

"I think there is a massive need to develop ideas together," says Schultz, who himself begun to work with library development in a Nordic contexts 25 years ago. Today he sees it as crucial to provide a framework and the channels through which the new generation of librarians can establish their own Nordic networks for their own purposes. Without an opportunity to meet with colleagues, there is no basis to talk about common models and collaboration across the Nordic countries, he stresses.

The network is based on a need to develop the library as a place that corresponds to the needs of individual citizens today: "We believe in innovation as something that comes from individuals that actually see the problems, instead of believing that they exist in exciting research laboratories alone," Schultz explains.

Network of Nordic Public Libraries is receiving Long-term network funding during the years 2009-2012.

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