Danish research libraries on the move: a new strategy

A new strategy for the association of Danish subject specific libraries, academic libraries, research and education libraries was presented, discussed and finally adopted at an annual meeting of the association’s members in Copenhagen this year on September 19. The Danish association, the research library association in short, has existed since 1978 and has about 55 library member institutions. The association has never before formulated a strategy, but with a changing library landscape in Denmark, mergers and closures — and an increased focus on Open Science, Citizen Science and new organizations — the time was now or never to consider the future of Danish research libraries.

The new strategy is, among other things, based on the major analytical work it initiated in the first half of 2019, resulting a the strategic report on “Future Research, Research and Education Libraries: Services and Competencies” prepared by the Danish Think Tank for Future Libraries and supported by the Ministry of Culture. The Think Tank is an NGO supported by both public library associations, municipalities, trade unions and the research library association.

The report of the Think Tank is partly based on 13 interviews and four workshops held with a total of 80 participants, the association board’s initial preparation of the strategy process, as well as a literature study of international trends and structural conditions relevant to the sector.

The report points out that both now and in the future there will be a need to identify and develop the necessary competencies of libraries and library staff: That is, competencies required to achieve visibility and create the relationships that can ensure continued relevant library service at a high professional level. Visibility and relationships are e.g. a prerequisite for libraries to participate in the research cycle, for collaboration with other disciplines etc. In addition, increased awareness of the potential roles of libraries is required by both libraries and library staff, as well as descriptions of necessary competence for performing new core tasks, better understanding of users etc.

By charter (1978), the mission of the Danish Research Library Association is to function as a member-run organization supporting its member libraries and their staff in meeting the demands and expectations of the future:

  • To promote initiatives that benefit research libraries and the overall library system
  • To provide a forum for discussion of library academic and library policy topics
  • To cooperate with other library organizations and related organizations at home and abroad.

The new strategic vision and plan

Based on its mission and the report, the association’s strategic vision is to ensure visibility, relationships and competencies, focusing on the following thematic areas: Research & Knowledge, Education & Learning and Society & Citizens.

The strategic objective of the association in the coming period 2020–2023 is then to contribute to the development of competence of the members and member institutions, as well as to increased cooperation and relations between the members and other actors, with an overall focus on contributing to the visibility and development of the competences of research libraries, broadly defined.

The implementation of the association’s strategy will in the coming years be supported by strategic actions of four types of activity:

  • Skills development
  • Networking
  • Common projects
  • Representation and advocacy.

The general assembly at the meeting of participants in September gave unanimous support for the new strategy and positive reception of the of the open strategy process.

The association will launch several strategic actions before the end of 2020, e.g. an identification of competence needs and strategic working groups to investigate and propose changes to both the association’s organizational and financial structure. All in all, it is going to be an exciting year!

Bertil F. Dorch

Library Director, Ph.D.

President, The Danish Research Library Association

University Library of Southern Denmark



*Danish Research Libraries associaton Website (in English)

* Thonk Tank Webpage (in English)

* Final report (in Danish)