The Aarhus Branch Libraries are Community Centers

Every single day, all 18 branch libraries in Aarhus Municipality are dedicated to function not only as libraries but as Community Centers with a special focus on the local context.

The branch libraries are close to everyday life of the Aarhus citizens whether they live close to the center or in the fringe of the city. Close both geogra-fically speaking as well as culturally and democratically – branch libraries provide the nearest acces to municipal services via NemBS.

The branch libraries are open to alle citizens every day from 7am – 10 pm and always open to citizens ideas, initiatives and events.

In the spring of 2013 the branch libraries organised a special ”Study Group” for all employees. The topic was ”The Future Branchlibray” and the purpose was focus and common reflection on what it means to work as a ”peoples-house”, a user oriented community center. The insights and ambitions were numerous but to metion some there will be an increased focus on identifying local needs, citizencooperation, partnerships, working with volunteers, designthinking and dialogue.

Two of the Aarhus branch libraries have already functioned as full blown communitycenters for years now; Community Center Gellerup and Kulturhus Herredsvang. They form great examples of how it can be done succesfully and are benchmarked not only inside the organization but on a national scale.

The development proces of becoming a community center recieves special attention in three branch libraries, that form learning Labs for the rest of the organization. Lystrup, Tilst and Risskov – Three very different libraries situated in very different local contexts. A variety of methods are being used in the development proces:
Citizen Involvement in a multitude of ways paying special attention to locally relevant actors; different associations, local-councils, schools, daycare, volounteere associations, NGOs and buisinesslife. Applying methods such as

  • Walls of Dialogue – Open Questions to citizens about their life/wishes/dreams/ideas
  • Dialoguemeetings, networkmeetings
  • Youngster-meetings – Tilst and Risskov share a common focus on youngsters
  • Community Gardens – Risskov works with including the library garden in building social capital and sustainability in the project [GROW!yourLibrary]
  • Partnerships – especially in [GROW!yourLibrary] there is a focus on forming strategic partnerships both locally, regionally and nationally

All this to ensure that the branch libraries COwork an COher with the citizens

The branch library is your COmmunityCenter
The branch libraries are OPEN to You; your ideas, your association, your mother, your exibition, your passport, your child, your problems, your solutions, your initiatives, your city, your municpality, your Library – our COmmon Place.