A human chain around a true community friend: The library staff

September 15 is The Roskilde Libraries birthday and every year we celebrate by inviting old and new employees for cake and coffee. This year we celebrated on October 22 and at this occasion I did a little birthday speech about The Arab Spring, a human chain in Alexandria and how staff is the single most important asset of any library.

Welcome to The Roskilde Libraries birthday. I would like to take this opportunity to tell you a story. It is a story that in its turn is both cruel and poetic. It’s December 17 2010 and we are in the Tunisian city of Sidi-Bouzid. Here we find a man named Mohamed Bouazizi. He makes a living of selling fruit on the street, but since he has no license to sell fruit, the police seize his fruit truck. Bouazizi is a desperate man and when the police seize his fruit truck they deprive him of his livelihood. Bouazizi does something very radical. He sets fire to himself in protest against the police, the system and the regime and this act gives spark to The Arab Spring and the entire Middle Eastern world is hit by series of pro-democracy demonstrations.

The demonstration came to clashes between citizens and police and military, the existing systems collapse and in continuation of the violent demonstrations and increased pressure on the established systems, lawlessness prevails. Robbery and vandalism of public buildings, museums, hospitals and schools are taking place. This is also the case in the Egyptian city of Alexandria. Everything is chaos and the city is being completely torn apart. Out of the chaos, a group of people gathers, they take each other by the hand and form a human chain around a particular building. The building is The Library of Alexandria. In the two weeks where the riots are on, the human chain stands tall and when the disturbances drive over, not a single window is broken in the library, not a single book is stolen.

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The human chain around The Library of Alexandria

This is a very powerful story to me and I think there are two things in this context that are important. The first must be found in The Arab Spring as a revolution. The Library stands for all the achievements of The Arab Spring: Democracy, Freedom, Transparency, Inclusion, Diversity. For me, the human chain in Alexandria is the ultimate tribute to the library’s function and justification in a society. And then it’s important to remember, that the human chain that formed around the library was a guard of the building, the collection, but very much also a guard for the library’s most important asset; The people who work there. The people who make a positive difference every day to the communities they earn.

So when we celebrate The Roskilde Libraries birthday today, it’s in fact the celebration of former and present employees who all have made and make a difference for the citizens of Roskilde Municipality and made it a better place to live. And if we were ever to be hit by a Zealand Spring I’m confident that a human chain would form around our libraries to protect the institution you have helped created.

Thank you

bib3_0Happy birthday, Roskilde Libraries! You are an magnificent friend to the community 

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Changing lanes: Moving from academic to public libraries (new job)

How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”
– Winnie-the-Pooh

After 8 utterly awesome and rewarding years with The Royal Danish Library / Copenhagen University Library it was the time for something new. From September 1st I will take on the position as director of libraries and citizens services in Roskilde Municipality

What?

The Roskilde Libraries are a wonderful library organism with one main library and 5 branch libraries, citizens services, 3 archives, a mobile library (a very very cool and colorful bus) and serves as central library for the region of Zealand and Bornholm (which means providing of materials and coordinating of library and skill development together with the municipalities in the region). All in all around 140 employees are with the libraries and citizens services in Roskilde.

Roskilde Municipality has 85.000 citizens and holds a reputation as a community that prioritize culture highly. There is a long and strong tradition of collaboration between libraries and the other institutions of culture, education, learning and experiences in the community. And then Roskilde is the home of one of my all time fave venues; The annual Roskilde Festival.

As director of libraries and citizens services I will join the leadership group of City, Culture and Environment and it’s expected that you don’t just deal with libraries but also put energy in developing the community in a broader sense which was one of the things I found appealing about the position.

Lots of stuff is going on with the libraries in Roskilde these days, months and years: The main library in Roskilde are gonna get a new main entrance so it will be more integrated with the upcoming ‘Street of Culture‘ which is gonna run parallel with the main downtown street in Roskilde. A new House of Culture for Children which is run by the library will open in the end of August. A totally new branch library is being build in Viby Zealand and a potential new library is on the rise in Jyllinge. Besides that it seems to be an extremely dynamic organization with high degree of performance, collaboration and development.

Why?

I truly believe that in order to continuously grow – both professional but also as person – we need to move ourselves sometimes. At least I do. I’ve been so happy with my carrier with The Royal Danish Library but never imagined that I should be in the organization forever and this was a chance to try something completely new, take a step up the leadership ladder and then it is just an awesome job and a great opportunity.

Also, over years I’ve been advocating about the importance of a higher degree of sector mobility between academic and public libraries (the mobility is close to zero in Denmark). I believe a higher mobility will foster more collaboration between the sectors which would benefit both students, researchers and citizens but also because I think that public and academic libraries can learn so much from each other. By this move I feel that I walk the talk and I will do what I can to promote actual collaboration between public and academic libraries.

I am looking forward to learn about public libraries, citizens services and the community in Roskilde. To advocate the value and importance of public libraries in our societies on national and global level. To meet all the people and try to make Roskilde a better place to live. And to learn more about myself.

Obvious I will keep on blogging about my new library life. Also follow along on Twitter and Instagram for all the new library adventures.

Cheers

Christian

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Yours truly in front of the main library in Roskilde