Model Programme for Public Libraries

Kultur styrrelsen

Realdania

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Case: Garaget in Malmö

Introduction

When Garaget in Malmö was inaugurated in 2008, the large industrial hall was preserved as one large space, fitted out with second-hand furniture. Since then, users have left their mark on both the interior design and activities. The mantra for Garaget is co-operation and co-creation with functions such as an organic cafe, workshops, a stage, a knowledge centre for dialogue technicians and citizen dialogue, and a local library where the users decide which books they want to have on the shelves. The stage is open; users contribute ideas and labour, and Garaget makes rooms available and offers tips and advice about marketing. If you need to use a room, you are given a key. Sometimes, more than 30 keys may be in circulation.

Garaget – a meeting place in Malmö

Garaget is an extra everyday space, an open meeting place and a local library in one building. As a ‘city district library’ it is located on the borderline between three districts just outside Malmö's centre in a social and ethnic borderland. It has been set up in a 500 m2 high-ceilinged former train depot with due respect for the original industrial character. The unique thing about Garaget is the very high degree of user involvement, where the users and not the staff fill content into the raw framework. All of its activities take shape through a continual dialogue and inclusion process that involves visitors and users.

Garaget can be seen as an extension of the City of Malmö's overall strategy for ‘Diversity, Meetings and Possibilities’. The local area is characterised by great economic and social differences, where a distinctive wealthy residential neighbourhood is located next to socially vulnerable areas. It is also characterised by great ethnic diversity, and more than 100 languages are spoken in the area. The goal with Garaget has initially been to develop a place where this diversity can unfold and meet.

When Garaget in Malmö was inaugurated in 2008, the large industrial hall was preserved as one large space, fitted out with second-hand furniture. However, in dialogue with the citizens, three large spaces with glass sections were set up in 2012: a quiet reading space, a PC space and a meeting space that everybody can book. Garaget also contains:

  • Creative workshop
  • Library
  • Cafe
  • Stage
  • Dialogue lab

At the creative workshop, children and adults can sew, knit, draw and do other things. People can also enter the kitchen region to cook and bake.

At the library, you can borrow, order materials and get information. You can also borrow PCs and iPads. When the library opened, the shelves were practically empty, and all purchases were made based on the users' needs and wishes. The library's current collection remains relatively small, and in keeping with the spirit of the place, the intention is that it should resemble a private book collection rather than a more systematic library.

Garaget still has books on the shelves. Photo: Signal Architects

The cafe is organic and serves home-baked cakes and children's food. Guests can read newspapers and journals and sit anywhere in the room.

The stage forms the backdrop for the many activities that take place at all times of the day. The room can be borrowed for free, and due to the great demand, it usually needs to be booked a month in advance. Users contribute ideas and labour, and Garaget makes rooms available and offers tips and advice about marketing. People who are going to use the room will be handed a key, and it can be considered part of the concept that at times, more than 30 keys are in circulation.

The dialogue lab is a knowledge centre for dialogue techniques and citizen dialogue. It is particularly aimed at civil servants in the municipality who want to develop their competences in this field. In collaboration with the library, a knowledge bank is being developed within these subjects.

The entire interior design of Garaget is based on flexibility and development of ‘the space within the space’. The atmosphere is deliberately homely, and the many second-hand pieces of furniture, sections with floral wallpaper and plants emphasise this living room character. At the same time, the many jumble sale finds symbolise environmental sustainability – an important theme for the place.

18. Sep 2017 at. 13:31

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