A Ticket to Read. Mobile Libraries in Stockholm
Since 2016, the mobile library at Stockholm City Library has been popping up all over the city to meet people in new and unexpected places in an effort to find new visitors, especially among children and young adults.
This year we received extra money from the government to be even more mobile and will also invite our colleagues to join us outside their libraries and act as bridge builders between the libraries and "their" surrounding areas.
Of course, we will promote books and the joy of reading, but also new technology such as Virtual Reality and robot programming. It will certainly be a challenge, both to make the technology work in suburbs with no Wi-Fi, but also to find our main target group – young people.
About the mobile library
The mobile library is part of the market unit. We receive assignments in a couple of different ways. Some assignments are received from prioritized LUP areas (Local Development Programs), by means of a coordinator in the department of culture.
Assignments are also received from geographic units within Stockholm City Library. Our library performs a so-called area and media analysis in order to determine an area's residents in relation to the number of library visitors. Or rather the number of non-visitors. Does the local public library's visitors reflect the area's general population?
What can the local public library do to reach more residents?
Perhaps an intervention of the mobile library could be a solution? The public libraries can send a request for mobile library support to the market unit.
The mobile library also performs independent tours and explores new venues of cooperation; with the department of physical education, various parks, malls, meeting places for young adults among others.
A ticket to read - how we invite citizens of Stockholm on a ride to reading and libraries
During the last 3 years the Stockholm City Library uses a special mobile unit for activities outside the library and with different kinds of pop-up formats: a bigger format with the children's bookmobile, a middle format with an electric van and a smaller format with pop-up library shelves. Our aim with mobile library activities is to meet people who normally do not visit libraries, and especially people in the suburbs. Another aim is to inspire and facilitate our colleagues in local libraries to practice activities outside their libraries.
Thanks to the governmental funding during 2018-2020 the Stockholm City Library got the chance to increase and broaden the mobile activities with more inspiring modules and also educate colleagues in the working methods of the mobile library.
The mobile library in Stockholm comes with hammocks
During this project we will introduce free of cost joyous leisure reading in a surprising manner with new, inspiring concepts and modules: a hammock library called Bibliambule; library boxes, called biblioboxes. In the hammock library anyone can listen to or read a book, or just relax. The primary target group for this concept are young adults and children, but it also serves to help parents and grandparents who want to share the joy of reading.
The content in the biblioboxes will offer multilingual library services and digital support and also open opportunities to try and learn more about new technology such as Virtual Reality and robot programming.
In order to reach people who, for different reasons, do not yet visit our libraries our colleagues need to feel safe in their professional role outside the permanent library. Experiences from our special mobile unit show that a distinct and active way of working is needed to achieve success in the mobile library activities. It is not enough just to prepare everything inside one's own library. Practicing different methods of establishing contact with average citizens outside the libraries will increase the likeliness to reach more future library visitors.
To prepare for the Library Summer Tour 2019 the mobile unit invited colleagues to come and work together with them at the pop-up library in April and May, so called job shadowing, a funny and effective way to educate themselves.
The Mobile Summer Tour 2019
The Mobile Summer Tour 2019 started according to our tradition on June 6th, the Swedish National Day celebrations, with the children's bookmobile going to the suburb of Skärholmen in southern Stockholm and the pop-up library going to the suburb of Rinkeby in northern Stockholm.
This year the mobile library also has access to one electric vehicle (which normally visits elderly and handicapped people who are unable to come to the library themselves) and three electric cargo bikes (built in Denmark). These three bikes will be situated in three different library units: Järva in the north, Hässelby-Vällingby in the west and Skärholmen in the south. Each unit will also have access to one regular bicycle so colleagues can travel in pairs to beaches, parks or squares to meet children, young adults and other people in the local library's neighbourhood. The electric cargo bikes carry two biblioboxes equipped with a reliable router, a laptop, an iPad, several Virtual Reality headsets, robots and other engaging stuff for children and young adults to test. And, of course, books to read and borrow and other things which the local librarians bring with them.
The most extraordinary and unusual mobile module, the Bibliambule, is also an electric cargo bike, but instead of a cargo box in front it has an octagonal "kiosk lookalike" trailer behind. In the middle the kiosk holds bookshelves which appear when the sides of the kiosk are folded down. From there also unfold seven hammocks on reliable metal rods. The whole installation needs 25 square meters in total, so it will not be overlooked and hopefully attract especially children and young adults. The hammocks are primarily reserved for them to enjoy while listening to storytelling, reading books or just relaxing.
Scientific research has proved that lying down while reading is good for comfortable joyous leisure reading. Therefore,the hammock library has a great potential to be a success in the promotion of children's and young adults reading books of their own choice.
The Bibliambule will also be equipped with biblioboxes providing opportunities focussing on children and young adults to test and learn more about new technologies.
The Bibliambule is right now under production by the French design bureau Les Z’ambules and will be delivered in the beginning of July.
Our goals for The Mobile Summer Tour 2019:
- 10 percent increase on issuing new library cards in the areas visited during the Mobile Summer Tour 2019
- 5 percent increase on lending of books for children and young adults in the visited areas
- 5 percent increase on downloaded book tips from Bibblix (a book tip app) in the visited areas
- At least 80 percent of the visitors during the Mobile Summer Tour 2019 should be positive, according to the satisfaction measurement done from May to September.
The results will be compared to that of last year's on an area-by-area basis.
Opportunities and Challenges for Library Services to Children and Youth in Stockholm
One of the conditions for our project is to have enough staff resources to let our colleagues get away from their libraries and pop-up with the bikes and reach our target groups. The costs for extra staff are included in our budget.
In order to keep our biblioboxes up to date we receive excellent help from our Digital Library, which is always on the front line of technical development. They also educate our colleagues at the local branches to make sure they how to make a router work in the middle of nowhere and that the Virtual Reality headsets will be as reliable on the beach as inside the library.
The Stockholm City Library cooperates with the municipality HR department in recruiting IT-specialists for our libraries. If possible we are, of course, keen on recruiting them to our summer tour since they are mostly young adults from the suburbs and therefore easily connect with other young adults in the suburbs we visit. As they are well educated in new media and digital technologies they can be good and inspiring examples for children and young people we meet during our summer tour. Moreover, maybe they will become IT-specialists in our libraries before they continue their studies to embark finally on the profession of their dream.
National conference and final report of the project
On the 18th of August the mobile unit will arrange a national conference for libraries with mobile library activities and with speakers in various areas of the mobile field. This material will also be included in the report for the Swedish Arts Council, administering government investments in stronger libraries.
Our report will be ready on the 31st of December 2019. If you are interested in its results do not hesitate to contact me!
Some other information, facts and links:
Stronger public libraries in Sweden in 3 years
The Swedish Government invests approximately 20 million € every year from 2018-2020 to make the Swedish public libraries stronger. Many of the municipalities which applied for governmental money during 2018 chose to invest in mobile libraries.
A national network for mobile libraries
Within the Swedish Library Association we have a national network for mobile libraries. The network is open for all working with mobile library activities, from book trolleys and pop-up libraries to electric cargo bikes, electric cars and bookmobiles. The network also inspires colleagues to explore the surroundings outside their own libraries together with us.
Some facts about Sweden, Stockholm and Stockholm City Library:
The kingdom of Sweden is a Scandinavian Nordic country in Northern Europe and with 450,295 square kilometres the largest country in Northern Europe, and the fifth largest country in Europe by area. However, there are only 10,2 million inhabitants, so the population density is as low as 22 inhabitants per square kilometre. 2,5 million of the population have a foreign background.
The capital city Stockholm has almost 1 million inhabitants in the municipality, approximately 1,6 million in the urban area, and 2,4 million in the metropolitan area.
Stockholm City Library is run and financed by the municipality and has 40 local public libraries with 400 employees. The budget was 34,5 million € in 2018, but will be cut by 3-5 million euros in the coming 3 years, depending on the political decisions by the new majority in the municipal assembly.
Some library statistics of 2018
- 10,3 million visitors
- 4,1 million loans
- 9,000 events, most of them for our main target group - children and young adults
Source: internal statistics
Read and see more
About the Bibliambule from France: https://www.les-zambules.com/bibliambule
About the electric cargo bikes from Denmark: https://amladcykler.dk/produkt/el-ladcykel/
Author: Britt-Marie Ingdén-Ringselle, Librarian/Mobile Library, Stockholm Public Library
Last update: 4 August 2019