Model Programme for Public Libraries

Kultur styrrelsen



Halfway Conference

On 9 April 2013, the Model Programme for Public Libraries held a halfway conference, ‘A Modern-day Model Programme’ at the Rentemestervej Library. Some 85 library managers and development staff as well as key staff from the municipalities' culture departments participated in the conference, which focused on how public libraries can match new needs and new behaviour by thinking in terms of new interplay between space and function.

The Rentermestervej Library stands out as an iconic building sculpture with its characteristic, stacked floors. Photo: COBE

A modern-day Model Programme

Anne Mette Rahbæk, Director General at the Danish Agency for Culture and Chairman of the Model Programme's steering committee, mentioned that since the Model Programme kick-off conference on 31 October 2012, the programme had been developed further.

Study trip

As an important part of the development of new ideas for space/function interplay at libraries, the steering committee, Signal Architects and the expert consultants have been on study trips to 11 carefully selected and very different Finnish and Dutch libraries. Each of these libraries is now introduced as a case on the website with a review of special qualities and design approaches, supported by photos.


We have conducted a mapping of new design and new construction of libraries because we realised in the course of our work that lots of things are happening at Danish libraries. The mapping showed that almost two out of three of the municipalities asked are currently planning to carry out considerable changes, and that more than two out of three have carried out significant change measures at their public libraries within the last two years.

In our survey, Danish library managers are asked what their changed libraries are particularly supposed to be able to support. Here are the five functions that are considered most important, in order of priority:

The top five most important library functions:

Collaboration between the Model Programme and local library projects

In connection with the mapping, we tested the municipalities' interest in participating in a tailor-made design workshop. We did this because we thought that there would be clear mutual advantages to be gained from a dialogue about how local libraries can develop spaces and layout solutions that match new needs. As it turned out, there was great interest in participating – 40 municipalities with a total of 47 library projects wanted to participate in the competition for three design workshop courses facilitated by Signal Architects, who are consultants on the Model Programme for Public Libraries.

Winners of the design workshop courses

The three winners were selected after thorough deliberations and dialogues with a number of municipalities. Particular consideration was given to projects that were at a relatively early stage of their ideas development.

The winners are:

The nine workshops

Then it was the participants' turn. Their insight, good ideas and challenges were put into play in nine facilitated cafe table discussions:

Our change measures

During the last three workshops, each of the three winners of local design workshop courses presented the changes they would like to initiate at their libraries in Thisted and Billund, and which wishes and needs the new multi-purpose culture centre in Sønderborg is to fulfil. They also had the opportunity to discuss their ideas with other participants at the conference. All three workshops were well attended, and both the winners and Signal Architects came away with many ideas for further consideration.

Important points and recommendations included:

  • One joint vision and therefore facilitation of a joint vision process. It is important that a sense of ownership for the vision is created with all organisations and staff who are to be located under the same roof, and that this is facilitated from the outset. The highest common denominator must take the lead.
  • An adaptable building. It is important to create buildings that are adaptable – e.g. a closed shell in which it is possible to work scenographically with the interior design in order to change spaces/zones and facilities in accordance with users' needs in the future. It is important that this is also reflected in an increased budget for furniture and equipment.
  • Increased sharing of facilities, but comfort and ownership for special user groups. It is important that the library is able to offer unchangeable ‘home base areas’ for special user segments, despite the increased flexible use of rooms by different users throughout the day, so that we make sure they experience comfort and ownership for the space regardless of when they arrive.

Presentation about the library in the local community, by Jan Lindboe

Jan Lindboe, Head of Culture North and host for the conference, spoke on the library's role in the local community based on his own library at Rentemestervej. This is a library that has won wide success with the public in a local area that is characterised by great social challenges. A library that has merged with an already existing culture centre, and which has the new Youth House as its nearest neighbour. A library, whose architecture and design solutions have won a number of awards.

You can read more about the Rentemestervej Library, which has a case of its own.

You can watch Jan Lindboe's slides about the Rentemestervej Library here.   

Presentation about the library's performative space, by Henrik Jochumsen

Henrik Jochumsen, Associate Professor at the Royal School of Library and Information Science and one of Denmark's leading library researchers, who has, among other things, contributed to the development of the four-space model, was invited to speak on why the library needs to be an ‘activity space’ – a performative space for active culture production. “The library cannot survive on being a knowledge communicator alone; as access to written knowledge is so simple and quick, it is not so much knowledge that we seek, but experiences and things that you can do something about: We lack that today. Being able to acquire new knowledge through action – by taking THINGS in your hands and doing something with and to them. And this is where an important function is opening up for the libraries.”

You can watch Henrik Jochumsen's slides about the library's performative spaces here.  

01. Aug 2017 at. 09:48

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