Tag Archives: Sweden

How to turn libraries into places where human rights becomes reality?

How can we turn our libraries into places where human rights becomes reality and not just empty phrases? In Sweden, we start with the children


There is an unequal power balance between children and adults. Children can’t vote and they don’t hold any power positions in the society. As adults we have the responsibility to compensate for their lack of power. Children need our protection, but they also need our help to get their human rights fullfilled. To theirs and our help, we have the 54 articles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), ratified by every country in the world, except for one.

At the moment, in Sweden the government and the public libraries are engaging on a journey towards the fullfilment of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. From the first of January 2020 Sweden has incorporated the UNCRC into Swedish law. At the moment library directors all over the country are planning for the implementation of childrens rights in their organizations, because this is the responsibility of the library leader – not the children´s librarian. One of the main principles of the UNCRC is stated in article no 3: All decisions taken in an organization should be taken with regard to the best interest of the child. A lot of important decisions which has impact on children is taken by the library leaders. The library directors play a very important role in the lives of children.

To the library directors help, and thanks to the financial support of the National Library of Sweden, every public library director has access to a tutorial in eight steps, ”Staying the Course,” helping them getting through the whole implementation process. You can access an English version of the tutorial Staying the Course for free.

There are also other national initiatives in Sweden. To promote the important role public libraries play in the lives of children, the Swedish Library Association will be handing out a new prize, the Children’s Rights Award of the Year, called the Elephant, starting in 2020. The prize is awarded to an activity or person who, in a library context, has made significant efforts strengthening the rights of children, in accordance with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

At an international level, the IFLA Libraries for Children and Young Adults Section has decided in their Action Plan that the Section’s activities and focus for 2020-2021 should have the UNCRC as a point of departure.  It is also worth mentioning that implementing the UNCRC also strongly contributes to the fullfilment of several of the Sustainable Development Goals.

So join in with us in Sweden! Make your library a place where children are empowered!


If you want to know more, contact:

Ann Catrine Eriksson, Library Developer, Region Sörmland, Sweden



Bookstart Sweden

Bookstart Sweden

If you are going to do something to reduce differences in living conditions and health – read to your children! (Sir Michael Marmot epidemiologist and public health researcher at the conference Make Gothenburg Equal 2014)

The words of Sir Michael Marmot, summarize the vital importance of giving children a good start in life. That one of our most important tasks as a public library is to reach out and meet children and families. To give children a rich language, love for words, and to bring reading to life. It is especially important to prioritize and make a difference for vulnerable children and families as well as families with special needs. To create the conditions in society for all children to develop a language that is as good as possible according to their conditions, and which makes it possible to develop as individuals with the ability to actively participate in society.

Bookstart – more than just a book gift!

 In Sweden, we have had a government initiative since 2016 ”The whole of Sweden reads with the children”, where Bookstart is an early and important contribution. Bookstart Sweden’s aim is to strengthen young children’s (0–3 years) language and reading development, Getting parents and professionals discover that reading, talking, singing, and playing are important parts of the child’s continued development. Strengthen parents but also the whole family in their significant role for the child’s reading and writing development. The bookstart teams therefore have a family-centered inclusive way of working, where the child and the family’s language and needs are important. The meeting with the child and the family and the shared reading experience produce effects and ”aha experiences”. This is how a book starter expresses the wow effect; “We visited a family the second time where the dad was home too. He said to us: when you first came I thought you were nuts, you can’t read books for a six-months-old child. Now we have fun, o my God we are reading books, I’m so glad you told me.”

Bookstart is public library-driven, but in close collaboration with child health care, preschool, family centers, speech therapy, open preschools and others meeting young children. Different professions, but all with a joint assignment on young children’s language development. It is important to work together on the assignment.

To bookstart is to dare!

 ”Bookstart has changed my way of being a librarian!” A quote from a conversation about the start-up role. Daring to leave one’s comfort zone. Meeting families based on their needs. Sharing reading experiences outside the safe world of the library. To inspire others who meet children to get ”the reading infection”. To give hope to families in need of support. To challenge and want to develop library activities. Gaining insights such as Library Manager Britt-Inger Roos in Strömsund; “You almost turn dizzy when you realize  the visits really can make a difference to a person”

Short facts about Bok start Sweden:

 2014–2017: Five pilots, inspired by Bookstart England and Denmark. All Bookstart pilots tested home visits, at 6, 12 and 18 months age of the children. Mainly in socioeconomically weak areas of cities. Region Västernorrland had asylum seekers / new arrivals as target group and Region Jämtland Härjedalen tested Bookstart in smaller municipalities and sparsely populated areas.

2017-2020: Government assignment. Bookstart is now in an exploratory phase. Home visits and various other methods are tested based on local and regional conditions and needs. During the period: 28 book launch projects and 30 networks. Libraries can apply for projects or language network grants from the Swedish Arts Council. We work actively to increase, and disseminate, knowledge of young children’s language and reading development through fact sheets, articles, films and knowledge packages (multilingualism, national minorities, children’s language development and reading). Materials are free to download at bokstart.se.

Most important of all is that we can all give children a good start in life – READ!

If you want to know more about Bookstart in Sweden, contact:

Anna Hällgren, administrator, Bookstart Sweden, Swedish Arts Council


Reading for small children, 4 films in 5 languages: English, Somali, Arabic, Persian and Swedish:


Children’s languages, fact sheets of different ages in 25 different languages. Free to download: https://www.bokstart.se/ombokstart/artiklar/2018/informationsmaterial/

That’s some difference – read!


Photos: Susanne Kronholm


Meet the candidates: Martin Memet Könick

Swedish IFLA-active from LSN-section rewarded national prize

Myself and Anette Mjöberg, both in Public Libraries Section, are members of the jury of the Swedish national prize for librarian of the year, called Bengt Hjelmqvist Prize. The prize winner is rewarded for outstanding efforts in the public libraries area.

This year Heidi Carlsson Asplund was awarded the prize. She has for many years been very interested in, and worked with, accessibility issues nationally and internationally. She receives the prize for her dedicated efforts to develop and make available the library’s services, from refurbishing a youth library together with teens and regional work focusing on accessibility issues, to an international involvement in IFLA, where she is in the Standing Committee for the Library Services to People section with Special Needs. Heidi has also been noted for her efforts to engage the local community in the library work, for example: by involving local people in the program activities at Sjövik library branch. Heidi has used her great horse interest as a resource for developing new activities, such as the “ride-in library” idea.

Photo:Ingrid Kallstrom

Lo Claesson PLS Nominee


Lo Claesson from Sweden is also standing for a second term on the PLS Standing Committee. If you watched the streaming of STEAM into Sydney you would have heard several of our nominees speak including Lo.



Name: Lo Claesson
Institution: Vaggeryd Public Library
Country: Sweden

I´m running for my second term as a Standing Committee member of PLS and bring valuable experience from planning, working and networking for this section. I have presented papers in WLIC in Quebec 2008, in satellite conference in Cape Town 2015 and in several other national and international conferences. I also had a poster presentation in WLIC, Columbus, last year.

I have got long library experience, first as a children´s librarian, then as a regional library developer and since 2009 as library director. As I´m working in a small town library I want to bring that view in all my commitments. I am passionate about the role of library in the local community and by networking finding valuable partnerships. My library has managed to be at the forefront thanks to good municipal relationships. We also listen closely to our user´s needs and wants.

Other fields from which I also have experience are digital literacy, STEAM and sustainable development. I also worked for some years with accessibility issues and as most Swedish libraries; my library also is very much involved in integration issues. So in other words: I think I can bring a broad experience into the section work.

I am a member of the Swedish Library Association Board.
I am also the co-writer of a book on library and makerspaces (Skaparbibblan, 2015).

Libraries’ democratic role





This year it there will be five Library Conferences in Sweden and the topic of libraries democratic role will be on the agenda at all of them.

Our society has changed over the past year and of course the role of public libraries also.

The political map of the world is changing and in Europe a huge amount of refugees are on the run because of all wars and conflicts. In this situation you can clearly see the lack of democratic rights to information in several countries.Polarization, ignorance and lack of participation characterize and public debate which highlights the need of neutral and accessible place for discussions and debate is important. The public library addresses these issues.

Never before has the has the importance and the role of the LIBRARIES been so needed.

The political map in Sweden is  also changing this year and nobody knows what changes will affect to the libraries I can only guess.In the Swedish Library law we have this paragraph:

§ 2 The libraries in the public library system will work for the democratic development of society by contributing to the dissemination of knowledge and freedom of opinion. The libraries in the public library system to promote the position of literature and interest in education, information, training and research, and cultural activities in general. Librarianship will be available to all.

So why have I been engaged in IFLA ? Here is my answer:

” In a troubled world is it so important for collegues from hole the world , independent to religion, gender or countries government can meet , change information, create strategies and common goals for Library work and cooperation.Hopefully this will lead to strengthen the right to freedom of informationen in the world.”

So all IFLA friends , let us keep together and fight for the libraries’ right to spread knowledge and information to help people to develop and hopeful some will get a better life. I think IFLA is one of the organizations to do this.

Anette Mjöberg
Library Director
Hässleholms Public Library, Sweden
anette. mjoberg@hassleholm.se





Hi, I have been a Library Director in Hässleholm’s municipality,Sweden now, for over 3 years now. I have many times been thinking about these questions:

  • How long time does it take to prepare for making big changes or development in a Library organization?
  • What do you think? What kind of experience do you have from your Library?

In all manuals or organizations theories and good advice from the consultants, shall and will changes take time. Of course have I been to impatient sometimes.

Since I begin to work in Hässleholm I have been waiting, preparing and working for 3 things:

  • Reorganizing the staff into teams
  • Start a Makerspace both in a room and also as a  mobile
  • Introduce a self- service Library in the municipality

And this year my goals will be obtained more or less.

The staff 24 people, is now divided in three teams which they could choose by themselves. The teamleader  has responsibility for developing the activities in all our libraries .I can already see the difference in the work and a new power in the work in the Library . One of the group works with remaking a room to a Makerspace ( Skaparbibblan ) . We have bought a 3D printer to start with and this week we are going to open it.Yippeee !

Our first 3D item


Last week we signed the agreement for the first Library with self-service in one of my Branches.Looking forward to report about it.

Best wishes from Hässleholm and Sweden / Anette. Mjöberg.