Danish Library Impressions

Tårnby bibliotekerne havde fra 7. januar til 1. februar 2013 besøg af en kollega, en finsk ‘praktikant’, Sanna Sivonen, servicechef i Vuosaari Bibliotek, en forstad til Finlands hovedstad Helsinki.

“Udveksling er ingen dårlig idé,” fortæller Jens Lauridsen, bibliotekschef i Tårnby. “Besøget har ikke bare givet Sanna viden om danske biblioteksforhold og vilkår, det har også givet os ‘nye briller’ at se på vores egen hverdag med. Dels på grund af Sannas mange spørgsmål og dels giver dét, at skulle fortælle om organisationen og virksomheden i sig selv ny indsigt. Jens Lauridsen fortæller også, at mange andre biblioteker m.fl. har taget velvilligt imod Sanna Sivonen, og tilføjer: “Det skal de have stor tak for.”

I’ve had an opportunity to get to know Danish libraries during a four week learning period, which is part of my innovator training in Finland. The main objective of the training is to learn to develop new types of library services for the future. The weeks in Denmark have really impressed me by the quality of the work done in Danish libraries.

A visit to the Danish Library Association revealed that the fundamental question for future libraries is the same both in Finland and Denmark: What will happen to public libraries when the e-book has its inevitable breakthrough? We are facing many challenges. How can the libraries serve e-readers the best possible way in good cooperation with the publishers? What is the main focus of the service in the future, and for what purpose is the library space needed if there are less conventional books on the shelves? We all seem to be asking the same obvious questions, and there are no final answers yet anywhere. However, in Denmark the libraries have stood up the challenge.

The Tårnby Transformation
While staying in Denmark I am based in the library of Tårnby, which is a great place to learn how to create solutions to meet the future needs. Instead of remaining as a classical library with big and comprehensive book collection, it has become a lively place with a wide variety of different types of functions. I’ve had the impression that the people in Tårnby really consider the library as their own space.

In Tårnby, the most important current issues in library development are quite similar with the ones I’ve learnt to know in Finnish libraries: changing the organization from department base structure to a team organization, increasing the number of events, creating new partnerships with other organizations both inside and outside the municipality and establishing new kind of interactivity with patrons by inviting them to arrange different types of events in the library.

After observing the work in Tårnby library for three weeks I can only say that the library has been very succesful in meeting these challenges. It has active  patrons, thriving events and flexible and attractive interior: lots of light and space, and several spots for exhibitions as well as places to study, relax and read.

The visit in Denmark has been a great learning experience: I’ve got several new ideas on how to solve many practical challenges in my own library back in Finland. However, the practical solutions are not the biggest inspiration I’ve had during my visit – instead, it’s the attitude of the Danish library professionals. They are innovative and creative, they have open minds and courage to implement changes and face new challenges. That’s surely something I can take with me back to Finland.

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