Building the library of tomorrow – bridging municipality and civic life to create a community living room

What are the limits of a public library? If you take the public in ‘public library’ seriously (and I really think you should do just that) the limits are pretty broad for our business. This is both an advantage and an obstacle; An advantage because we can do so many things to create better and smarter communities. And obstacle because the limits of the library core business and purpose can get blurry. I think we should trust in our core values of shared public places for enlighentment, education, life long learning and basically forces of social good but I also think we should constantly challenge our own and the communities perception’s of the library and what we do.

At Roskilde Libraries we are in the coming years gonna challenge the limits of the library and how it can interact with civic life. We are buling a new branch library in Viby (population 4.700) but it is not only gonna be a traditional library building. We are moving in with the local cultural association, KulturCosmos, alongside with the local archive and citizens services. The vision is not just to be 4 parties living in the same house doing our own thing but to create a shared house for the citizens of Viby with a piniata of cultural, learning and shared activites created in colab of the 4 parties in order to empower, evolve and connect the community of Viby.

The building will be located right in the heart of the city as a living room for everyday life to grow, people to connect, horizons to expand. There will be etablished a square in front of it to extend the shared community place and to be used for activities too. The collaboration with KulturCosmos and archive have great perspectives since they are mainly driven by local voluntarily forces and we have great trust in that good things will come from the merging of municipality and civic life. They are not employees, they are citizens that wants to do something great for the community and they are awesome at that. I’m sure that if we want to fail big on this we will just move into the new house and see what will happen. So we have used the past half year on doing workshops on shared values, creating a new organization and to getting to know each other. The coming time until our house is done will be used to explore how we can create great things together and use each others forces. We are different and that’s beauty of it all – that we can challenge each other on how to do great stuff for the community and in collaboration fill our shared house with amazing stuff.

Bulding a house that connects the past, the present and the future   

Over the past months various entrepreneurs and architects has been in contest for winning the right to build the new shared place in Viby. The Skou Group won with a team of Christensen & Co Architects, Primus Architects, Sted Landscape Architets and Orbicon Engineering.


The architects has been looking into the history of Viby and the architecture is heavily inspired by the old Viby dairy in both proportions, colors and materials. The old dairy is gonna be removed to make space for the new building and I really like that architects think and design into the community and don’t just make a building to be placed anywhere. Life first, then spaces, then buildings like the great Danish urban planner Jan Gehl ones said. Viby has a proud and strong historical anchor in the community and it is important that new things take notice of that – I think and hope the citizens of Viby will see that and welcome the new building and what we will do with it. The building is done in 2021.

To be continued.




One comment

  1. […] Christian: The library as a building and institution more frequently becomes a part of a collective with other institutions and parties; Citizens Services, Culture Centers, Music Schools, Tourist Offices etc. are often the names of the other residents in the building. This is a trend that has been going on for some years and are very much a part of the library landscape in Denmark and it only seems to increase in the coming years. The degree of motivation and collaboration on the other hand varies a lot. One take is that the different institutions are just residents in the same building, no collaboration is organized and the moving in together is driven by municipality budget cuts. Another take is to proactive harvest the benefits of collaboration and synergy by living in the same house and use that to make great stuff for the community. We have a great example in the town of Viby were we currently are building a new house for library, citizen services, culture center and local archive. Especially the partnership with the local culture center, KulturCosmos, I’m thrilled about – it’s municipality that meets civil society with the ambition and shared goal to making a stronger community in close collaboration and I think we will develop the libraries role and impact in the local community. I’ve written a little bit about it in the blog post: Building the library of tomorrow – bridging municipality and civic life to create a community … […]


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