The fall of the Library Fortress

”In the danish public libraries … library users experienced that there were more staff in the libraries and better service in the periods were there was librarians on the floor. ”

The Library Lab

The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder
– Ralph W. Sockman

Some months back I attended Nordic Library Meeting in Stockholm. It’s a forum for directors at the university libraries in Copenhagen, Oslo, Stockholm and Helsinki. During a presentation of the new humanities and social sciences library in Oslo the discussion stumbled upon the function and shape of the library information desk.

It’s an interesting topic. We often discuss the staffing of the front desk and the level of service the users should get at the front desk but not so much how the actually desk is designed.

The Oslo people clearly had a classical library fortress in mind for there new library: A big massive wall of a desk that divided the users from the librarians. I don’t fancy that kind of front desk. First of all it signals ‘them’ and ‘us’ – they…

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