Trouble and unrest in Swedish libraries






Trouble and unrest at the libraries, quiet libraries, or libraries for conversations and events?

The debate has been heated in Sweden recently and fuel has been added to this debate by the Union for Academics, DIK, which has released an interim report about the library staff’s working environment.

During the summer, DIK asked its library members about unrest, disorder and aggressive behaviour exhibited by visitors, as well as offensive or humiliating attacks. More than 1,800 people, which is a third of the member group, took part in the survey. The report shows that there are major working environmental problems at Swedish libraries; in some places the situation is unsustainable. The problems more prevalent among public libraries and school libraries, but also occur at research libraries and hospital libraries. The problem exists all over the country, both in urban and rural areas.

Respondents at public libraries and school libraries are experiencing an increased level of unrest and disorder. They indicate that the main reason for this increase is a rise in unemployment and social exclusion. Other reasons that have been mentioned are activities for the mentally ill that have been discontinued, decommissioned recreation centres and increased drug availability.

The report has, among other things, led the Swedish Library Association, via its chairman Calle Nathansson and Secretary General Niclas Lindberg, to write a petition in which they underline how important it is that the library is a secure place for staff and visitors alike.  They also suggest that a handbook be developed to assist the library staff.

DIK now also requests that all the members’ experiences are classified as occupational health problems and that all libraries have a functioning incident reporting. Karin Linder, Chairman of the DIK association, has spoken out in the media and stresses how important it is that the employers take responsibility at a local level so that discussions between employers and employees are initiated in the work places.
The report from DIK it titled “We are Librarians, not Psychologists or Social Workers” from a quote by a librarian who took part in the survey.

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