“You know it’s bad when librarians rally”. Praise to a non-neutral profession

Let me start to detach from the heading: “You know it’s bad when librarians rally”. I’ve heard it quiet a few times in different versions and sure it’s funny to some extend because it plays on the stereotypical view on librarians as quiet introvert people with cardigans, glasses and buns, driving round book trolley’s, never raises their voice or interfere in other peoples business (unless someone is to loud in the library and has to be shushed). I don’t find that to be true. Over the last couple years I been hearing a voice among the library community who has been more and more concerned about social justice, inclusion and diversity in society. Especially in North America. I like that voice. It’s an important voice. And that is because I believe that libraries – both public and academic – are important institutions in building an open, equal and diverse society. To fulfill that role we need to be active in our choices and take part in the debate. We need to take a stand and say it out loud when something is wrong. I don’t believe in such a thing as ‘neutral libraries’ or ‘neutral librarianship’. When public libraries do programs for homeless people in the community they are not neutral or indifferent – they act on a problem. When academic libraries advocate for open access to academic literature and research data they are not neutral – they take a stand that open access to information and data can help create a better world. When librarians march in protest because of budget cuts in higher education or closing of school libraries they are not neutral. They act.

I think librarians has been focusing on social justice issues for a long time but the voice I’ve been hearing is getting louder and louder. I hear it especially on Twitter and in Facebook groups but also out on the streets in various demonstrations and rallies around the world.

The Library – public, academic, special etc. – is a crucial institution in building a healthy democracy; libraries are open and inclusive spaces. They care about you, not your money. They educated people and bring them together. They create healthy and smart communities. They don’t flunk students, they focus on how they can help them succeed. Librarianship is the key to all that. It’s important that we are aware of this and that we take our responsibility as an institution and profession serious and act when things are not right.

So, let’s talk about this and let’s keep be that active institution that care about our communities and raises our voices when something isn’t right. And in the mean time I like to dedicate this blog post to all the badass librarians, library workers and library lovers who spent time and energy on advocating for social justice, inclusion and diversity by bringing the best librarian/archives rally sign I could find (I couldn’t find courtesy for all the photos so please write me if one of these are yours).

Enjoy and keep on believing that you can make a difference.

Cheers, Christian

Librarians against nazi shitheads. Gayle Lauren at the Boston Free Speech rally 2017. Photo courtesy: Gayle Lauren

Read and resist. The Women’s March in Washington 2017

Facts are real. Sincerely, your librarian. The Women’s March in Washington 2017

A school librarian is a right. Not at privilege. Rally to restore Illinois School Librarian 2017 

Save Cardiff's Library ServiceLibraries gave us power. Cardiff Library cuts ‘read-in’ protest 2015

carnigieThe Internet can’t replace a trained librarian. Save Carnegie Libraries rally 2016

carnigie2I [heart] librarians and books. Librarians to be at Save Carnegie Libraries rally 2016

Z682.4.G39. Boston Pride Parade 2006. Photo courtesy: Lana Mariko Wood

What do we want? Evidence based science. When do we want it? After peer review. Women’s March in Washington 2017



Tales from The Library: A growing collection of library love stories 

I love pictures. They often take me places and creates different kind of stories in my head. I like many different kinds of pictures but I really dig pictures of libraries and the people who work there and the people who uses them. Pictures of rows of books, students that are reading, kids learning to code and all the small and big sparks of the good things that libraries are.

I’ve visited many libraries in my life and had many great library experiences. Some of them I’ve captured in a photo. I thought it could be nice to find those photos, put ’em up somewhere so people can enjoy them (I don’t really know what I’m doing when I take pictures and it’s just iPhone pics but it’s pic’s of libraries so that secures 99% of the joy) and use them for websites, library marketing etc.

So here you go: Tales from The Library, a growing collection of quality library love stories from around the world: https://www.instagram.com/librarylovestoires



Tales from The Library: https://www.instagram.com/librarylovestoires 

Don’t be square. Roskilde University Library

Sparks. New York University Library

Alone with books. TU Delft Library

And The Winner is.. How libraries can support students working for a better life on campus

Altruism. I find people who are voluntarily doing things for other people simply because they think it makes a different, one of the most beautiful things in this world. Those people are making the planet a better place to live. All the time. A lot of altruism is going on in higher education and on campus. Students are doing social and educational events, arrange debates, do bars, board game clubs, campus days etc. in order to create a good study environment and great experiences for their peer students.

I think the academic library has a huge stake in students success and well being in higher education; as libraries we are platforms and spaces who support students studies, learning and collaboration and we lack the evaluation and authority of the mother institution which gives us a position, where we can focus on their success without limits but our own imagination and drive for making them the best students they can be. In this context I’ve been thinking about how the library can support the voluntarily spirits and activities on campus and here is one idea: The Study Environmental Award.

The Study Environmental Award is given to students and student organisations who do activities for their peer students in order to make a greater study environment.

The purpose of the award is two-pieced:

1) To honor those students and organisation who is putting effort, energy and good ideas into creating a better study environment

2) To inspire other students to do the same by putting a positive focus on voluntarily actives targeting the study environment on campus.

The concept is simple really: Just like the Oscars and the Grammy’s are events that put praise and focus on the film and music but also the whole industries, The Study Environment Award is meant to both give a big hug and a high-five to the cool students who make an effort to make study life better for everybody but also to open fellow students eyes for the opportunities to contribute.

Two campuses, two libraries, two student councils, two awards

I’m library director for both Roskilde University Library and Faculty Library of Social Sciences at Copenhagen University Library and we have created a Study Environment Award on both campuses. We haven’t done it alone. Both at Roskilde University and Faculty of Social Sciences we have teamed up with the student councils which have a shared interest in supporting and developing the study environment. Collaborating with student organisations is really awarding: They bring in valuable and highly relevant perspectives which library folks is not able to cover alone, they often have a huge outreach on campus and collaborating with them, creates ownership and awareness of the library activities.

For the actual ‘Award show’ we are aiming a tapping into some of the larger activities going on at campus. At the Faculty of Social Sciences the award are given on the yearly Campus Day in the end of April and in Roskilde at the students yearly Summer Party in the beginning of June.

17457806_10154283447915951_893634756879903624_nThe Handshake. Emma Bach from the Student Council at the Faculty of Social Sciences and yours truly settling the deal on The Study Environment Award.

And The Winner is… 

The award show got everything it takes to be an.. award show: Reading and praise for the nominated students and organisations, an envelope with the winner, the breathless seconds just before the winner is announced, endless happiness and joy and spotlight for the honorable winner, reading of motivation for selecting the particular winner, handover of prize, bubbles and flowers and thank you speech from the winner.

In both case the prize has been money to make new activities for the study environment.

At The Faculty of Social Sciences the award went to ‘Pedalarmen’ (The Pedal Arm) – a space for fixing bikes, drinking coffee and have chats with fellow students across campus. One of the reasons The Pedal Arm won was, that it is not focused on subjects or education – it simply creates a social space, a welcoming, friendly and open get-together, where students can meet with other students (and teachers) from other disciplines (and learn something about how to fix ones bike – Copenhagen is a biking city you know and for many people the bike is like an extra part of the body).

The happy winners of the Study Environment Award 2017 on The Faculty of Social Sciences

Benefits of the award approach to supporting student driven study environment activities

The Award approach comes with different benefits:

  1. It celebrates the cool students and voluntarily spirits that is doing something good for the study environment
  2. By creating focus it can inspire others to do the same
  3.  It’s an well known concept, easy arranged, and everybody loves a good award show
  4. Collaborating with student councils and student organizations creates valuable network within the student community for the library
  5.  Having The Library name on a popular award is good branding and story telling about the library

This is working for us and can be twisted in many ways. A Study Environmental Award is just one of a number of different ways the academic library can support student driven activities on campus and in higher education. Let me hear yours.



“Facts are real. Sincerely, Your Librarians” and other badass signs from #WomensMarch

On January 21 2017, millions of people around the world took the streets to rally for women’s rights at the Women’s March. The first protest was planned for Washington, D.C., and was organized as a grassroots movement that took place on the day after Donald Trump’s January 20 inauguration. It aimed to “send a bold message to our new administration on their first day in office”. Quickly the rally spread to other cities around the world.

I find the Women’s March a mind blowing and strong statement and I find great comfort in the fact that a huge population of fellow citizens around the world will unite to protect women’s rights and other causes under fire like protection of the natural environment, LGBTQ rights, racial justice, freedom of religion, and workers’ rights.

Lots of library workers participated in the Women’s March and some of them where out there flashing some some really badass protest signs. I’ve collected some of them here for collective memory and inspiration (I’ve tried to located the primary sources for the photos with out much luck. If you know any persons who took the photos please ask them to reach out to me, so I can either make a reference to them or, if they don’t want the photo in this blog post, I can remove it).

“Thank a school librarian if you can tell fact from fiction”

“Librarians against Trump – ‘Book Him'”

“Read and Resist” – Librarians are pissed

“You know it’s bad when Librarians are marching”

“Librarians against post-truth”

“Real news? Fake news? Ask a Librarian”

I’m telling you, kids are the future. This one proves it big time.

Yep, science really is real

Love this one
My fave: “Facts are real. Sincerely, Your Librarians”