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Transforming the Libraries. To which problems in a knowledge based society are public libraries the answer?. / australia2006. Rolf Hapel, director Citizen Services and Public Libraries Aarhus, Denmark, August 2006.

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Transforming the


To which problems in a knowledge based society are public libraries the answer?

Rolf Hapel, director

Citizen Services and Public Libraries

Aarhus, Denmark, August 2006

a few facts about denmark and danish libraries
A few facts about Denmarkand Danish libraries
  • Small country – 5.3 mill. people
  • Homogenous - 7% immigrants
  • Well-educated population - 2/3 upper secondary or further
  • 713 fixed service points and 51 bookmobiles
  • Public library spending in average per capita per year 100 AUS $
  • Spending varies from 30 AUS $ to 180 US $ per capita
  • 16.4 loans per capita in average


the libraries of the industrial society
The libraries of the industrial society


  • Free and equal access to information

+ Education

  • Support to the formal education system

+ Culture

  • Access to cultural heritage and experiences

= Success

  • 60 -70 % of population users
year 12 after www

Year 12 after www

Sven Nilsson: ”Inventing the future - playing”

society trends demography
Society trendsDemography

New fellow citizens

The "new elderly"

society trends the consumer
Society trendsThe consumer
  • Increasing


  • The political consumer
  • Self-reliant
  • Demand for quality
  • Leisure time is a

limited resource

society trends the social excluded
Society trendsThe social excluded
  • Social divide
    • 40 % of the labour force has no vocational education
    • 15 – 20 % of population are illiterate = 1 mio people
    • Larger gap between information strong and information weak citizens?
society trends the media development
Society trendsThe media development

From text to sound and moving pictures From analogue to digital

Physical media



Film and video

Computer programmes, databases, playstation games and multimedia


Net based media types

Digital TV


Mobile devices

–portals, subscribed services, e-zines, advisories subject guides, tutorials


society trends information and communication technology
Society trendsInformation and Communication Technology
  • High Internet penetration
  • Bandwith – broadband - wireless
  • IT everywhere – ”pervasive computing”
  • Mobility and portable devices
  • Interactive user interfaces - avatars
  • Portals and personalization
  • Web 2.0
tendencies on time
Tendencies on time
  • We work more
  • We spend more time with our children, cooking, shopping, domestic activities and eating
  • We sleep less and spend less time doing nothing
  • We need leisure time and particularly unplanned time
    • Some tries to catch up by spending time on their own in the bathroom!
  • Calmness, tranquility and absorbtion is next to come!
  • Jesper Bo Jensen, Danish ’future’ scientist
media culture
Media culture
  • People change behavior and standards when media comes between them
  • Mobile technologies makes people in constant contact with others
  • Interactive media makes it possible to manipulate contact according to own needs - superficial
  • Social contact is additional choice – no longer defined by institutional framework (school, museums, libraries)
  • Slowness indicates importance
  • Electronic communication index for social connection
  • Prof. Stig Hjarvad: ”The Sociable Society”
challenges competence development and generation change
ChallengesCompetence development and generation change


No more money – probably less

the worst scenario
The worst scenario?

Better expect the worst:

  • Only a few will need the library
  • Google serves digital library users
  • Libraries becoming museums for information handling in the industrial age
  • Librarians being custodians

“ – only the paranoid will survive”

Andy Grove – Intel 1995


High demand for

    • reinventing the institutions:
    • new ways of professionalism
    • new products
    • new alliances
    • new ways of funding

A high demand for



A self-supporting change…


..with a predictable ending..


The two options..

Work with a philosophy of change..

- or

the danish library sector a few characteristics
The Danish Library sector –a few characteristics
  • The Danish Library Act – 3 important principles:
    • Core library services free of charge
    • Extended or hybrid library (many obligatory media)
    • Library sector seamlees service (public and university libraries)

The Danish National Library Authority strategy:

The hybrid library model is the frame for library development in Denmark


The Hybrid library

A place that offers..

..and where there is guidance.

..access to global information.. collections of various media..




Self service




Holdings in Danish Libraries

Search and ordering facilities


The Net libraries are a number of virtual libraries or subject portals produced or co-produced by Danish public and research libraries in cooperation

Libraries Netguide
  • Started 1998
  • 29 active libraries and 120 librarians
  • 5000 evaluated and annotated links
Question and answering service
  • Started 1999
  • Jointly operated by 39 public and 13 university research libraries
  • Chat function with pre-defined communication, software that allows librarian to ”take over” user´s screen
  • Training programme for library staff
Fiction literature portal
  • Started spring 2000
  • Editor based in Aarhus, production distributed
  • 55 member libraries – all producers
  • Cooperation with nation wide TV broadcast
  • Many features including e-Zine with e-mail notification, (3000 subscribers), counselling, articles, database on comtemporary authors, possibilities to place requsitions and holds on more than 90 libraries, web-services, weblog
  • 1,5 mill. user sessions (2004) 3,4 mill page views
aarhus photos
Aarhus Photos
  • Århusbilleder, based on the database of the jointly operated ”Danske Billeder” (Danish Photos), co-operation between six libraries, Local history, searchable in jpeg-format