Standing on one foot – a Norwegian library’s digital focus during the pandemic
21 December 2021
Sølvberget library, Stavanger, Norway
Sølvberget library in Stavanger was already one of Norway’s most visited libraries online when the pandemic struck. We have had a website for more than 20 years, a YouTube channel since 2014 and a podcast since 2016. The lockdown in March 2020 simply meant that we had to concentrate on those ways to reach our audience while the physical library was closed. In a way, the pandemic taught us digital lessons which would have taken us a lot more time to learn in a world without the pandemic.
In the first days of the lockdown, the staff made a lot of different digital productions, mainly from home. But not long into the lockdown, things got more organized. These are among the video series that have been planned, published and recorded (in covid-safe surroundings!) at the library since March 2020:
- Reading for children
- Interview with local authors
- In-depth interviews with major Norwegian authors (Lars Mytting, Tore Renberg and others)
- Digital “town hall meetings” on current issues
- Helping students writing their literature assignments (with subtitles in English)
The last one is paired with an extensive Q&A service on or website, where students can ask us for help. Their questions provide useful ideas for future films for us as well.
Our wide experience in digital publishing before 2020 meant we were well prepared when the lockdown and pandemic hit us. The past 18 months have shown us that digital events will never replace the traditional ones. The audience has less patience online. The traditional library event, where an author meets an interviewer to talk about his/her latest book, does not translate that well to YouTube users, for whom the question “What’s in it for me?” is the most important. (It will, however, be perfectly suited for a podcast episode!)
Getting views, likes and comments on YouTube is tightly linked with usefulness. The films that get the most engagement, are the ones that solve people’s problems.
Sølvberget never closed, we simply went all digital for a while, and now we are back to a new normal, with sharpened digital tools and better understanding.