torsdag den 16. juni 2011

REACH OUT - How to organize and run a strong library organization in 2011

Today I make a presentation at NEXT LIBRARY


I’m going to tell a little about Danish libraries, the special structure in The Danish Libraryassociation, and how we influence the political system, or cooperate directly whit the politicians.

We have made a small booklet about our organization called

’Political through and through’


Acting and reacting

Communication, Debate and News

Stimulating political action via surveys and lobby activities


Libraries & Citizens’ Services

New library services for children

The digital library


Annual meetings

Meetings politicians face-to-face

Professional projects


In Denmark almost all the Libraries are funded by tax.

We have 98 municipalities and all of them are obligated, by legislation,to have a library and to finance it.

In Denmark there is free and equal access to the libraries, meaning that basic service must be free of charge for the public, As in the other Nordic countries

The Danish Library Association started in 1905. The first milestone, for the association, was successfully lobbying for a library legislation

The result was the first national act In 1920. (only Great Britain had a Library legislation at that time)

This development was only possible because the library pioneers formed alliances with leading members of the society and politicians who supported the library spirit.

In other words, they lobbied for libraries. In this sense we work under the same conditions, to day, as the pioneers.

We too need to form alliances with politicians and related organizations in order to further the cause of libraries.

We still need political support for libraries, and that means we need to develop strategies to gain access to the politicians to convince them of the continued relevance of libraries in modern society.

In the twenty-first century libraries are still a political project with the overall goal of giving all people free and equal access to information, culture and the opportunities to learn.

In a democratic society it is necessary that the citizens have this access - independent of political and religious belief or financial standing

The way in which we are securing this fundamental right is changing just now

Nevertheless libraries still play a vital role in the global information and knowledge society, this role is in transition.

The Danish Library Association is organized on the basis of a number of local associations working on regional level.

These local associations elect representatives to the Council of the National association.

The Council elects from within its members an Executive Committee with ten members including a president, who is always a politician, and two vice presidents, one of them is a library professional and one is a politician.

I think this mix of politicians and library professionals works in a constructive way. Because the professionals inspire the politicians and the politicians give a good insight into how we need to prioritize.

And other times it functions inversely. So I hope we also in the future will be able to get this symbiosis to function and that local politicians want to put as much thought into the matter and will work in our Board, like they do today

Who are the DLA members?

  • Danish municipalities, represented by their politicians
    (this group is in focus, because the also finances most of our work)
  • Another group is the Library decision makers and professionals as well as library associations and – institutions
  • Other cultural associations
  • Students of the Royal Library School

But how is our member composition

Today 87 of 98 Municipalities is a member, representing 95% of population on 5,5 mill residents. We have approxmently 500 ordinary members

Besides all that, (there is direct political lobbying) we of course work with a lot of other things.

For example our magazine, books and our conferences.

How does DLA work

I will just mention our

  • DB Annual Meeting – is the meeting place for politicians and the public library sector
    Here we advocates and debates necessary library development and trying to reaches public awareness through the media
  • We work whit National and regional library conferences on hot topics
  • Carrying out, initiating and participating in library projects and surveys
  • And wee Participating in a lot of official hearings/central committees nationally and internationally


Support transformation of Yesterday’s Library to The 21st Century LIBRARY (physical and digital) AND to make the political decision makers understand, promote and finance these changes.

Three major challenges for the library

Integrate library services in daily lives of citizens

Develop new services from user driven innovation

Reach out with offers relevant to the whole population

We need to create a new narrative frame

Create a definition for what the modern library is. Constantly debating how to describe it

Bringing Libraries - On the agenda

- Let’s do it together !

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