Resilient/Sustainable workplace: A collaboration and research project

Helsingborg Public Libraries has during the beginning of this year moved into a two-year project in collaboration with the Department of Psychology at Lund University. “The Resilient/Sustainable Workplace” is a project that with help of modern psychological and related research develops the business so that organizational structure and organizational culture becomes more sustainable and resilient in relation to changing roles, tasks and technological stress/digitalization. The work is in line with several of the city’s focal points “Increasing expectations from residents”, “Increased focus on security”, “Residents in different worlds”, “New demands on communication”, “A society with greater vulnerability” and above all “Right skills/ability at the right place”.

The process is a needs-driven innovation closely linked to both assignments and societal changes and rigs the organization to meet challenges with a focus on the user. The work is based on research and the needs that exist in a modern workplace with continuous demands for constant change, leadership, increased need for involvement of residents, increased mandate for employees and the need to find security and sustainability in everyday life.

During 2014 til 2016, Helsingborg Public Library carried out a collaborative project together with the Department of Psychology at Lund University. The project was called “The Healthy Workplace” and aimed to improve the organizational and social work environment in the business based on modern research and focused on both the importance of the structure and the individual’s conditions.

“The Resilient/Sustainable Workplace” is a new project that to some extent builds on “Healthy Workplace”. The work will be a pilot that could be scaled up and used in other activities. The content will touch on the areas of trust, work in change, identify strengths, and work on social identity.


The library’s main task is to give everyone free access to information and knowledge, create inspiring meeting places, work to promote reading and work with digital inclusion, this in order to secure freedom of opinion and expression and participation in the democratic society. The entire information landscape is changing with increased digitalization and globalization. In previous work, it has emerged that the staff experienced the libraries’ changed role, the many new tasks associated with this change and technology stress / digitalization as stressors in today’s library environment.

These factors have also been identified as problems in international research and indicate a challenge for the library of the future both in Sweden and internationally. More specifically, they signal a need to build a sustainable and resilient library organization where employees both learn to deal with these problems and who also address the changed librarian identity that follows from this changed role.

The project goal is to lead to a more sustainable and resilient library organization as well as a better working environment and a higher level of well-being for staff. In addition to this, the project will generate new scientific knowledge for the library community, nationally as well as internationally.



The project runs over two years and will combine competence development and interaction with all library staff in Helsingborg with ongoing research projects. At least four workshops / seminars will be conducted with all staff connected to how both the organization and employees can become more resilient to stress, manage uncertainty and change work.

It is important during the project and workshop that the staff group feels involved, which is also the key to success. Commitment leads to participation and is essential for it to work and be fruitful.

The previous project generated two scientific articles, both of which were cited, received positive attention in library research and has led to new initiatives. It is these that lay the foundation for this new work.


Previously published articles on this work:

Organizational stressors and burnout in public librarians. Magnus Lindén, Ilkka Salo & Anna Jansson, 2018, I: Journal of Librarianship and Information Science. 50, 2, s199-204

The healthy workplace: the library in collaboration with a psychology researcher. Catharina Isberg, Fanny Mikkelsen, 2016, InfoTrend, Vol 69, Nr 1/2, s5-12


/Catharina Isberg, Library Director, Helsingborg Sweden and Tina Haglund, Digital Library Media Department Manager, Helsingborg Sweden