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Perspective and commentary by Marshall Breeding

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A look at Library automation in Sweden

Map of Libraries in Sweden

I find it quite interesting to study the patterns in library automation in different parts of the world. I use the lib-web-cats directory of libraries to help me gather and analyze data regarding the automation systems used in libraries. While lib-web-cats still isnít as comprehensive, I hope to continually expand its international coverage.

For the last few weeks I have been slowly working my way through the public libraries in Sweden. This Nordic country illustrates some trends in library automation that contrast significantly from what we see here in the United States.

Like many European countries, the local governing authority operates a library service and provides a library management system. As I worked through these libraries on the Web, I observed very similar patterns of organization within each site. Even though I donít read Swedish, I pretty quickly learned the tricks of navigating to the library Web site. (Main page > Kultur och fritid > Bibliotek).

Several trends stand out. It seems that most, if not all, Swedish libraries benefit from the use of modern library automation products. I was not able to find many public libraries without automation. Each municipality or locality operates a library management system or participates in a consortium. I may be missing small libraries in some of the more remote parts of the country, but it seems that standards for library service include automation support. In many cases it seems to be shared with affiliated libraries, often associated with schools in the surrounding communities.

One company, Axiell, dominates the provision of library automation software to Sweden. Axiell Bibliotek AB, a subsidiary of Axiell Library Group, offers two major library management systems to libraries in Sweden, BOOK-IT and Other companies represent a much smaller slice of the Swedish public library arena. Other subsidiaries of Axiell offer automation products to libraries in Denmark, Finland and the United Kingdom.

In addition to the library management systems provided by Axiell, smaller numbers of public libraries in Sweden use Millennium from the North American company Innovative Interfaces, Micromarc from a company based in Norway called Bibliotekenes IT-senter AS, and Pulsens Bibliotekssystem from Pulsen.

Automation systems used in Sweden Public Libraries

Please let me know of any omissions or corrections. While I have made a what I hope is a comprehensive sweep of public libraries in Sweden, I have not yet gone through the academic libraries systematically.

Developing a comprehensive representation of libraries in a country is quite a time consuming process, and my time is spread very thin. Help is always appreciated in adding new libraries to lib-web-cats or updating details about technology products used.

Jun 10, 2010 10:05:13
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Name: Marshall Breeding

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