In the early summer, we expanded the number of libraries with unstaffed opening hours from 10 to 12 libraries. These are called “open libraries”. Citizens have access from 7AM-10PM every day while the number of staffed opening hours varies. Citizens have accepted this new offer in a very positive manner and it is used often e.g. for delivering and picking up materials. It is an important step in the development of the modern public library to make the library available to the users when no staff is there. We are thereby giving the library space to the local community.
Further development on the library serviced citizens’ service NEMBS (Easy Citizens’ Service) has been carried out during the year. The service was established in 2011. It has been challenging for citizens as well as collaboration partners and employees to become comfortable with the new understanding of what a library may contain. The service, however, is used frequently and statistics show that more than half of the citizens that apply for a new passport apply to one of the libraries with NEMBS.
Implementing The City of Aarhus’ as well as the eGOVERNMENT channel strategy meant increasing the efforts to improve citizens’ IT competences. Besides increasing the number of IT courses as well as the number of topics, the efforts included teaching in the gymnasiums (upper secondary schools) and co-service where it was possible. As far as possible, the efforts were established in collaboration with local players or volunteers were involved.
The debate about the library as citizens’ centre
The transformation from library to citizens’ centre is key to everything the Branch Libraries currently works with and consequently also the themes already mentioned. In the 10 areas where opening hours are have been expanded with unstaffed opening hours, citizens meetings were held where associations and collaborators were specially invited. Great dialogue meetings, that included more than simply dialogue about opening hours, were held. The library space will have new meaning for citizens. The process of employees changing their perception of the space and in a sense “giving it up” is a process that we are currently working on e.g. via the abovementioned themes.
The most interesting and thought provoking fact is that employees as well as citizens and politicians care a great deal about the libraries in future especially must provide and disseminate books. The debate focuses on communicating information, knowledge and culture.
The sum of the above is that in the Branch Libraries, we are on the right track by developing our libraries into local ressource centres for information, knowledge, learning and culture. This development takes place in close collaboration with citizens, which is also in line with the current library debate.
”The book is dead” – is a statement, that we have heard for a long time. The book, however, is still not dead and literature today simply takes on many other forms than print. New literary tendencies that experiment with literature across different media and art forms are quickly becoming more widespread. Project Literature Taking Place was a collaboration between the Branch Libraries, Roskilde Libraries and Litteratursiden.dk (Literaturesite). The project was going to explore the new forms of literature and find out what communication forms and concepts the libraries can use. The new literature is very much about the joy of telling a story but also about literature as a common experience for eyes as well as ears. This project also points forward as the library space gains new meaning with regards to communicating literature.
We have previously worked with the method that involves preparing local resource personnel for being role models for others in the local community. In 2012, the project “Bydelsmødre” (Local Community Mothers) in Gellerup and Tilst used the method. Moreover, we emphasised that teaching was carried out by people the women already knew. The educated women now contribute with their new knowledge through formal and informal network in the two local communities.