Category Archives: news

Project ALMPUB

The ALM field, digitalization and the public sphere

This is a project of our partners in Oslo, in which many members of the network NLUS are involved.

This project will investigate the impact of digitalization – here understood as the proliferation in society of digital production, distribution and consumption of culture – on the role and function of archives, libraries and museums as public sphere institutions. The research project relates directly to the primary objectives of the Kulmedia programme and the call: It aims at enhancing a knowledge base relevant for facilitating open and informed discourse, under changing technological conditions; it aims at generating knowledge related to the shifting conditions for providing access to and mediating from collections in libraries, archives and museums; and it studies user perspectives and the promotion of cultural citizenship in an increasingly complex society.

The project ALMPUB is funded by the Norwegian Research Council and will last from October 2016 until 2019. It is one of the projects in the KULMEDIA programme.

The project is coordinated by the Department of Archival, Library and Information Science at Oslo and Akershus University College. There are several partners from Norwegian Universities involved, as well as the National Library of Norway, researchers from Finland, Denmark,  Sweden, Germany, Hungary, USA and Switzerland.

The kickoff meeting took place on October 3, 2016 in Oslo.

News from NLUS

Our network is still working on the main topics. We have involved new members from other countries and we are trying to get funding for our research. In October we had a meeting in Den Haag in which our research topic was worked out more in detail. Olindo sent us a foto of the work they did in that workshop. It gives an impression of the relation between public libraries and the cities.


We hope that we get the possibility (i.e. the funding) to work further on this model. So far the cooperation in our network is very fruitful and I guess that everybody learns from the experience and the exchange of ideas.


New developments in public libraries #nlus (update)

On the second workshop the members of the NLUS network discussed different research projects. And we got to know that there is a trend in the Netherlands to close down branch libraries (for example in Rotterdam). There was a significant decrease of book lending and also (less significant) in visitors of libraries. In Denmark there is a trend of increasing visits to libraries while lends also decrease.

Some figures from the Netherlands presented by Olindo Caso:


The closings are usually due to budget cuts. Responsibles try to reduce costs by closing library branches. But with which longterm effect? That rises new research questions: what is the effect of closing branch libraries to the population or the social and cultural life in the city districts? In Denmark staffless libraries with lower costs seem to be a solution, maybe this also a model for other countries? And figures from Denmark show that numbers of lending are increasing in staffless libraries…

Update (29.8.15): Hans Christoph Hobohm tried to quickly compare the figures from the Netherlands with the German library statistics. He draw a quick diagramme showing that the situation in Germany is not (yet) so dramatic. The visits are quite stable and even the loans are still quite high – only the members/active users declined slowly in the long run.



Second day of the Oslo workshop

After discussions about ongoing or planned research projects in the different countries and funding opportunities on the first day we continued the work on the second day. Different research projects with their research questions and methods were presented. Furthermore we will sketch out our next steps towards a common proposal. We have in mind a COST action and we plan to set up a task force that will elaborate a proposal. Maybe also for an ERASMUS+ activity.

The members of NLUS disussed also open questions about a draft of a common research proposal. We aim to work further on it with the target of a proposal for Horizon2020.


Many thanks to the colleagues from Oslo and AkershusmCollege for the organisation of the workshop and the nice evening program with dinner in Ekebergsrestauranten from where we had a great view on Oslo.



Discussions on research topics

On the third day of the workshop on Public Libraries in the City the participants defined some main topics that could be the core of future common research projects.


In a next step we discussed three of these topics (or cluster of topics) in smaller groups. The goal was to define the topics and to sketch research questions.
  1. Library differentiation and identity
  2. Livable cities, libraries and the creation of place/space
  3. Impact of Libraries

We will work now in these groups in order to formulate the concept and to define research questions for each discipline. A more detailed description will follow on the website.

Program of the Workshop on Public Libraries and the City

Tuesday, November 11

17:30-22:00: Arrival and get-together at Martins-Tower, Chur
Food and drinks will be served

Wednesday, November 12

Workshop at HTW Chur, Pulvermühlestrasse 80
State of the Art: Architecture, Library and Information Science, Sociology

09:00-10:00: Welcome (with corissants and coffee)
10:00-12:30: Presentations and discussions: current questions and methods (architecture)
12:30-13:30: Lunch at Mensa HTW Chur
13:30-15:00: Presentations and discussions: current questions and methods (library and information science)
15:00-16:30: Presentations and discussions: current questions and methods (sociology)
16:30-17:30 Discussion
19:00: Dinner at restaurant Marsöl, Chur

Thursday, November 13

Workshops at HTW Chur
Internationalisation of the network

09:00-12:30: Open space workshop: overlapping research fields on Public Libraries and the City. Can they be combined?
12:30-13:30: Lunch at Mensa HTW Chur
13:30-17:00: Planning of shared research projects
17:00-18:00: Excursion to public libraries in Chur
18:00-21:00: Apéro at Pädagogische Hochschulbibliothek, Chur.

Friday, November 14

09:00-09:30: Visit at the Kantonsbibliothek Graubünden, Chur
09:30-11:00: Conclusion, farewell – next steps
11:00-12:30: Guided tour in Chur

Workshop on Public Libraries and the Contemporary City

From November 11 until 14, 2014 an international workshop of the Network on Libraries in Urban Space will take place at HTW Chur/Switzerland.

The International Exploratory Workshop will deal with questions concerning Public Libraries and the contemporary city. It will treat questions from the fields of library and information science, architecture as well as sociology in an interdisciplinary manner.

This workshop is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF). The number of participants is limited. Researchers in the field of Public Libraries and Urban Space can apply for participation – not only to the workshop but also to the Network NLUS. Please contact us using the contact form.

Continue reading Workshop on Public Libraries and the Contemporary City

Conference “World in Denmark”, 12-13 June 2014

Nathalie Vallet will have a paper on “Public libraries in transformation. The impact of local strategic management agendas on cultural mind-setting” at the conference World in Denmark. Nordic Encounters: Travelling Ideas of Open Space Design and Planning in Copenhagen 12 – 13 June 2014. There will also be some other members of our network. So if you would like to meet them, don’t hesitate to contact Nathalie Vallet at the conference!


This paper is focused on the influence of the so-called strategic management agenda or rationale of Flemish local governments on the role (i.e. concept, design, and (re)construction) of public libraries in cities. This focus relates to the important historic role that European public libraries have fulfilled since the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution, in educating, cultivating, emancipating and empowering especially “new” citizens (e.g. women, children, workers, middle and lower classes) (Lerner, 1998; Kostagiolas et al. 2009, Jochumsen H. et al., 2012). Many public policy makers as well as academics recognize the need to adapt or reconsider this role in our present – profoundly changing – urban society. Their main concern is: how has this role changed over time and which strategic challenges, paradoxes and conflicts do there exist in our nowadays urban society?

Although there exists a lot of scientific research and literature on public strategic management (Bryson, 2004; Williams and Lewis, 2008; Lane and Wallis, 2009), models on the role of public libraries within strategic governance frameworks are scarce if not lacking. This is also the case within the discipline of library science where strategic management and planning are gradually becoming well-known concepts and instruments (Masson, 1999; Matthews, 2005; Pacios, 2007; Zhixian, 2008; Kostagiolas et al. 2009).Thus, formulating an answer to the previously mentioned main concern implies a research design clearly explorative in nature. Therefore the use of a qualitative case-study research method is appropriate. Considering an additional goal to develop a kind of descriptive theory on alternative roles for public libraries, we chose for the particular qualitative research method of Grounded Theory (Glaser and Strauss, 1967; Strauss and Corbin, 1994; Charmaz, 2006).

Our explorative research activities are situated in Flanders and try to answer a threefold explorative research question: what are (1) the shifting strategic management priorities (i.e. content of the agenda) as well as (2) the shifting strategic planning procedures (i.e. process behind the agenda) of Flemish local governments, and (3) how do they influence the local cultural mind-setting and thus the (new ?!) strategic role of public libraries in cities (i.e. concept, design and (re)construction)? This research question led to the realization of 2 successive research projects. The first research project was realized in 2010 and consisted of 5 case-studies realized in mainly big Flemish cities amongst which Antwerp, Ghent, Genk, Ostend and Roeselare. Here the focus was mainly on exploring the central concept of sub-question (3), being (new ?!) strategic roles of public libraries. The research results led to the inductive identification of 1 generic and 3 so-called specific strategic roles for public libraries: the role as an “urban landmark”, an “area-oriented herald” and a “target group patron” (Vallet, 2012; Vallet, 2013). The second research project has started in 2013 and consists of 10 case-studies realized in mainly smaller and medium sized Flemish cities, such as for example Kortrijk, Sint-Niklaas, Geel, Dendermonde, Balen and Maaseik. The results of the second research project (i) fine-tuned the previously detected strategic roles for public libraries and (ii) made profound analyses of the local strategic agendas and planning procedures involved. Thus, the focus of the second research project is on sub-question (1) and (2) and on the relationship with the strategic roles of public libraries as mentioned/suggested in sub-question (3).

Presently we want to continue our exploration in a (i) geographically more “enlarged” European setting and in a (ii) more multi-disciplinary way involving also colleagues of architectural design and urban planning (i.e. see also our European research platform “under construction” ).


Bryson, J.M. (2004) Strategic Planning for Public and Non profit Organizations: A Guide to Strenghtening and Sustaining Organizational Achievement, Jossey-Bass, San Fransisco;

Charmaz, K. (2006) Constructing Grounded Theory: A Practical Guide Through Qualitative Analysis, Sage, London.

Glaser, B.G. and Strauss, A.L. (1967) The Discovery of Grounded Theory: Strategies for Qualitative Research, Aldine De Gruyter, New York.

Jochumsen H., Skot-Hansen D., and Hvenegaard Rasmussen C. (2012) The four spaces: a new model for the public library, New Library World. 113 (11/12), 587-597.

Kostagiolas, P.A., Banou, C. and Laskari, E.A. (2009) Strategic planning and management for the public libraries. The case of Greek central public libraries, Library Management, 30(4/5), 253-65.

Lane, J. and Wallis,J. (2009) Strategic Management and Public Leadership, Public Management Review, 11(1), 101-120.

Lerner, F. (1998) The Story of Libraries from the Invention of Writing to the Computer Age, Continuum, New York and London.

Masson, M.G. (1999) Strategic Management for today’s libraries, American Library Association , Chicago Il .

Matthews, J.R. (2005) Strategic planning and management for library managers, Greenwood Publishing Group, Westport, CT.

Pacios, A.R. (2007) The priorities of public libraries at the onset of the third millennium, Library Management, 28(6/7) , 416-27.

Strauss, A.L. and Corbin, J. (1994) Basics of Qualitative Research. Grounded Theory Procedures and Techniques, Sage, London.

Vallet, N. (2012) Informational cities and city innovation : (re)defining the strategic footprint of public libraries, City of Flow Conference, 12-14 July 2012 Potsdam (Germany) – Potsdam, , 2012, pp.23

***Vallet, N. (2013) Becoming partners in urban development. A case-study research on the strategic roles of Flemish and Dutch public libraries in the future development of cities, Library Management, 34(8/9), 650-663

Williams, W. and Lewis, D. (2008) Strategic Management Tools and Public Sector Management, Public Management Review, 10(5), 653-671.

Zhixian,Y. (2008) Knowledge management for library strategic planning. Perceptions of applications and benefits, Library Management, 29(3), 229-40.

*** This publication was recently rewarded as most outstanding paper 2013 by Emerald – the Alexander Wilson Award, link


Renovation plans of NYPL changed

The article in the New York Times “Public Library Is Abandoning Disputed Plan for Landmark” about the discussion of the renovation plans of the New York Public Library main building.

In a striking about-face, the New York Public Library has abandoned its much-disputed renovation plan to turn part of its research flagship on Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street into a circulating library and instead will refurbish the nearby Mid-Manhattan Library, several library trustees said.”