LibWorld – Sweden

Similar to the Swedish social systems, the Swedish libraries have a very good reputation. Not only the fully developed public library system is known for innovative ideas like the Living Library.

Peter Alsbjer, Director of the County Library of Örebro, Sweden, has written an overview about the Swedish biblioblogosphere. His blog can be found at [Omv] Lite IT. A not-so-good online translation tool for Swedish can be found here.

The status of the Swedish biblioblogosphere spring 2007
Blogging is a fairly new activity for Swedish library staff. Most of the Swedish blogs I’ve found have been around for just one year – or less.

This way for transmitting knowledge and ideas over the internet has showed similar problems in the start, if you compare to other information systems: Is there an audience? Does anybody really care? Who am I writing for?

One of the first, and most important blogs, started by a librarian was Erik Stattin’s This was back in 2001. Erik was at that time working at the Parliament Library in Stockholm. His bloggings were in some quarters considered a bit controversial. Being not only a civil servant but also in the neighbourhood of power, would it be OK to share ideas, thoughts and knowledge in this way during work hours? Soon Erik was identified as one of the most important bloggers in the country by Swedish business intelligence experts Observer. He was recognized as Sweden’s “blogger of the year” two years in a row 2003 and 2004. Not bad for a librarian. However Erik’s blog has a broader theme than just libraries, it is at times still brilliant.

At the same time 2001, in a different part of Sweden, some 430 kilometres from Stockholm, to the north, university librarians Lars Våge (University Library of Härnösand) and Lars Ilselid (University Library of Umeå) started the Internetbrus blog. Internetbrus is focused on information for fellow librarians on what was going on on the web and mainly on search engines and information retrieval. Nowadays Lars and Lars claim to have a broader, and more public, audience. They have roughly 52 000 visits a month and it is still one of the most important tools for library business intelligence.

Second generation
After this first generation bloggers there was a second generation picking up the idea around 2002 – 2003. Important bloggers from the Stockholm area, like Åke Nygren and Kia Gumbel, experimented with blogs with different subjects, mainly with a professional audience. Worth mentioning of these blogs is Biblioteksbloggen, a cooperation between the inter-lending centres in Malmö, Stockholm and Umeå, and Åke Nygrens blog. If Biblioteksbloggen is created by cooperating colleagues for fellow-librarians, Åke’s blog, with up to hundred visits per day, is a one man show, with the ambition to inform library staff about ICT and web 2.0 – and to inform 2.0ers and ICT people about library 2.0 and libraries.

Malin Cantwell’s and Åsa Jenslin’s blog Biblioteksrelaterat had from the start in 2003, a more personal touch, including suggested professional and leisuretime reading. Of course it also brought up news, not only about technical development, but also issues about library imagebuilding, movies and whatever.

Library blogs
Although most of the early blogs were made by the occasional enthusiast which had colleagues as target groups, it is around 2005 the first libraryblogs started. Library staff starts blogging information to their users as well as recommended reading. Early adopters were the Public Library of Vallås, soon followed by others. Vallås is a small branch library outside Halmstad. One of the most successful blogs in this category is the Humaniorabloggen, a Stockholm Public Library blog which blogs information and gives comments about what is going on in society right now.

Regional and individual
The way I see it, third generation bloggers are divided into two branches:

  1. the regional level, giving information to colleagues, picking up ideas, giving advice etc:
    my own [Omv] Lite IT, Orbiter by Lo Claesson at Jönköping County Library,
    Anns Agenda by Ann Östman, Gävleborg County Library, BD-Nytt by colleagues in Luleå as well as Bibliotek25 by colleagues at South East County Libarray are all good examples but with different ambitions. Talking for myself I use the blog more as an instrument to push information to the library staff in my county. It’s easier than doing it by mail or via a newsletter.
  2. the personal librarians blog
    A lot of smart often young librarians adopt blogging as a way to give library users and others ideas of further readings of literature and other media. Lottas boktips is a good example of a small town librarian using a blog to comment on her contemporary reading.

Some really cool librarians like Librarianishish is the new black, Librarians of the world – unite and take over and Den onde bibliotekarien are pushing the limits of alternative librarianism closer to the fringe.

Library 2.0
One blog is specially worth mentioning in the Library 2.0 context. The Swedish bibliotek2.0 blog edited by 2.0-veterans Peter Giger and Eva Norling, both librarians at Blekinge Institute of Technology. Today Bibliotek 2.0 has some 270 subscibers according to Feedburner. As the name of the blog says it is devoted to stuff related to Library 2.0 things.

The Ning thing
The next big thing could be Ning. We haven’t really seen the impact of social library communities using Ning as a tool yet. However there are some examples of starting communities for library staff. In Örebro we have, for instance, a community powered by Ning for the library staff of all libraries in the area:

Social library webs do exist but are few: Stockholm Public Library and the Region of Umeå’s are two examples. If they provide user blogging like Ning could or not I do not know.

I have collected information of 40 – or so – Swedish library blogs on