The Public Library as a Social Platform

Lively discussions could be heard, new ideas were born and collaborative projects created when 150 employees of public libraries in the Nordic countries gathered at the Nordic Libraries Together conference at the Úlfarsárdal City Library on October 19th and 20th. The occasion was the 100th anniversary of the City Library. The conference was organized in collaboration with the Municipal Libraries of Akureyri and Kópavogur

The theme of this third NLT conference was the Public Library as a Community ForumThe program included diverse workshops and short presentations on projects that expand horizons, as well as key talks from the American sociologist Eric Klinenberg and the Dutch architect Jan David Hanrath, who has specialized in designing libraries. Among the projects presented is how the Oodi Library in Helsinki has put its weight on the scales when it comes to increasing civic participation in the democratic system, mobilizing different groups to participate in events and public discussions at Dokk1 in Aarhus and how creative methods have been successful in helping people learning Icelandic to practice the language at the Reykjavík City Library

In his presentation, Eric Klinenberg discussed the importance of ensuring people have access to open community spaces in their local environment, where libraries play a major role. For years, Erik has conducted researches and written books about loneliness in modern societies and the need to nurture the social infrastructure of society. He said that libraries in the Nordic countries are at the forefront when it comes to the development of libraries in line with the changes in the society, something that other nations could look into. Among the books Eric has written are Palaces for the people: how social infrastructure can help fight inequality, polarization, and The decline of civic life and Going solo: the extraordinary rise and surprising appeal of living alone.

Jan David Hanrath has led the design of many libraries around the world and is now part of the team of designers who recently won a competition for a new Reykjvík City Library Grófin, down town Reykjavík. Eric shared with the guests the upcoming changes at Grófarhús, a project called Vitavegur, the design process and detailed consultation with the staff and users of the museum. 

The City Library sincerely thanks all the visitors for coming and participating, the speakers and workshop managers for the inspiration, and the Municipal Libraris of Akureyri and Kópavogur for a good co-work. 

We are looking very much forward seeing our librarian friends again at the next Nordic Libraries Together conference, held at Oodi library Helsinki, fall 2024. 

Here you can see both fun and informative Instagram highlights from Eric and Jan's stories. 
Here you can see and interview with Eric Klinenberg at the Icelandic broadcast program Kastljós. The interview is in English with an Icelandic subtitle, starting at 13:13.