Public libraries

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Anastasia Prokhorova: just a library or a cultural centre?


I am sure that a library is not only a collection of books and documents but also an amazing public space. So how can we develop and influence on cultural life and which special events can we offer our visitors in the walls of the libraries? Can public libraries keep the leadership in organizing leisure-time? I would like to adopt different practices in organizing cultural projects from the colleagues from all over the world.

Anastasia Prokhorova

Katrin Kropf: why not deliver library materials directly to homes by bike?

In March my library began to deliver media to immobile and elderly library users for free. Last week we started to deliver media to every library customer for a small fee. Media from the central library will be delivered on the next weekday, if ordered before 2pm ? so you can say it’s an express delivery service. We have a few volunteers here, mainly pensioners, who deliver up to 3 media units per library user. Some use public transport, some use their own car. But noone rides the bike… Why?

Does your library deliver books/media by bicycle? Do you get help by external professional courier services? What are the advantages/disadvantages of delivering media with volunteers, with external delivery professionals or with library staff? Why did you go for the bicycle or for other transport options in the end? I’d love to share experience on that issue, because it looks like our current solution (delivery with volunteers) turns out to be not as (cost) effective as initially thought… But I might be wrong, too…


Katrin  Kropf

Till Kinstler: who needs these catalogues?


Sometimes my work seems rather pointless to me. As a software developer I implement all kinds of search interfaces for libraries. Every day I process crappy data and fight with broken library systems… Don’t get me wrong, that’s fun, I like my work very much, so much that I even spend part of my spare time on an open source project building one of these “next generation catalogue 2.0 discovery interfaces…”: VuFind…

But who really needs these catalogues and search tools – the old style OPACs as well as the new “discovery interfaces”? Yes, these new catalogues can improve user experience and are definitely more usable than the old boolean OPACs. But even if they are more user friendly, where are the use cases? Where are the users? We know well, that discovery of knowledge resources happens everywhere, all the time – but hardly ever in library catalogues or so called discovery interfaces. People don’t come to the library to use the catalogue or discovery interface. They come to the library to enjoy the great services it offers: to access knowledge resources, to take something home, to get work done, to get solid advice, free internet, to browse shelves, to enjoy the spatial experience and atmosphere, or just a coffee,… But the catalogue is just a leftover from times, when we had nothing better to show people our holdings.

And while we are good at running libraries, we are not good at building search engines… So why do we show users a “search box”, when they already know, what they want? Why do we frustrate them with our ideas of discovery (tools) when they know best themselves how to discover stuff? And why don’t we make our real services more easily accessible? Why don’t we deliver instead of making users search? We spend so much effort and resources on providing search interfaces, that nobody needs any more…

I have some ideas, why we struggle here and I am happy to discuss them while cycling. And please, if you think I am wrong, try to convince me! 🙂

And I have some ideas, what we could improve. Wouldn’t it be great, if you could get a checkout link to your local library in a Google result when you search for a book? Just as you get a link to your favourite book seller? Or as you get a link to your local cinema when you google a film title, including screening times and a map showing how to get there by bike or public transport from your current location? I think, that’s possible…

Till Kinstler

Sebastian Slotte: why wasn’t I invited to the foundation stone laying ceremony of the new Savonlinna public library?


I was a tourist in the city of Savonlinna in Eastern Finland on June 13. and I was eager to visit the physical main library. Well I found it on the streetmap but I could not see any library around. So I stopped a patrolling police car on the street and asked. They pointed at a hill just behind my back. Yes, there it was hidden behind some trees on the top of the hill.

Inside the library a member of the staff at the counter informed me that the foundation stone of a new main library in Savonlinna was bricked in a ceremony that same day.

Today I checked out a blog about the making of the new library in Savonlinna. Now I know that the event was not public. It was a “private party” with 60 guests and a brass band.

My question is: Why people of Savonlinna and tourists like myself were NOT invited to join the foundation party of the new library in Savonlinna on June 13; to drink the non-alcoholic sparkling wine; to listen to the local brass band and finally to get a glimpse of the new physical library in the making?

I am grateful for any help from Savonlinna Municipal Library Chief, mr Tapani Boman, to get an answer to my question.

For more information about Savonlinna Library (in english)

Sebastian Slotte

Christer Skog: online library services


In biblical terms we have this Diaspora at the moment when considering the library online services. There are all kinds of somewhat dated commercial OPAC systems and at the same time some great open source concepts are available but not in wide use. Are we in fact old fashioned when we think that customers would like to visit our web pages? Is there ways to integrate our online services to the social media? Or should we implement some other ways to develop a concept of The One Ring to rule them all. I’m really interested to be hearing of all kinds concepts that are being used to serve our customers online.

Christer Skog

Juha Manninen: public libraries in boxing ring of municipal politics


In city of Lahti, Finland, the politics decided that branch libraries will be closed down and transformed into library stands that will operate mostly in lobby premises of other civic services, eg. health centers, maternity clinics and senior houses. A public library is of course a place where many communal services can be provided. However, in this model the library is only in position of an additional service, not the main actor. This has been seen as a step to a path where libraries can be closed down easily, without resistance of loud and annoying citizen acts.

Can these kind of libraries – or joint stands – be seen as a tool to maintain at least some library services in cities with economical difficulties or are they just a political trick to get rid of costs when needed?

Library is still strongly tied to a certain place. A branch library creates different practices of everyday life when compared to main library, it’s part of social ecology of its area.

What could the staff of public libraries do to make an influence that libraries as physical spaces wouldn’t extinct in situations like this?

Juha Manninen

Vitaliy Datsenko: do we need a radical reform in the library?

There is much talk about the changing mission of the library. If the library was previously science center, but now it’s more like an entertaining place. Is this correct? Perhaps a healthy conservatism is needed for the library, otherwise this place should be called differently?

In any case it is necessary to preserve the best traditions of the past for the library? Or not?

Vitaliy Datsenko

Bo Jacobsen: the future role of the physical library


The usage of public libraries have changed significantly in the recent years. The change in user patterns is challenging the libraries with a need to rethink the physical facilities and to grow into community centers which should invite people inside as active players and contributors. The focus is not only culture and knowledge, but also on engaging citizens as active citizens both in the local community and globally.

Bo Jacobsen

Stine Grabas: collections or relations

Libraries are a unique cultural – and learning – institutions embedded in a local community yet working together for the same goals world wide. How do we make the best impact in our local community? By collecting and presenting ideas, knowledge and stories from our communities that make us unique? How do we connect local information and knowledge to generate knowledge in our community that other people in the community can benefit from?

Stine Grabas

Tarja Vuorinne: co-operating with patrons and citizens


We librarians are smart people 😉 but I´m still wondering if we really know what our patrons and citizens need and want from us. So I would like to learn which could be the best ways for searching the real needs and interest of different kind of people. How could we get them together with us to discuss about the future of the libraries and to plan our services and activities? And how could we reach even those who don´t use our services so often or not at all? In recent years there has been arranged some nice workshops and discussions for patrons and citizens in Finland and surely in other countries as well and I would be happy to learn more about them.

Tarja Vuorinne

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