I have arrived in Helsingborg, Sweden and have begun my internship with their public library. My tasks thus far have primarily entailed shelving and sorting books, but this morning I got to ride on their bookmobile, which parks in different places around the city so people who live far away from the library can more easily check out and return books, which is a really helpful service, particularly to the elderly.
My Swedish is terribly rusty, but everyone has been very polite about that at the library. Everyone in Sweden is very polite generally.
Some observations and descriptions of things at the library:
- Citizens here take advantage of their public library, far more so than with our public libraries in America. Everyday the library is packed with every age group and the book mobile was full of people for two hours today. Ann Arbor is pretty atypical, but I’ve always found that most public libraries in America are uncrowded, and that many of the patrons are only there for the free computers. They seem to read more fiction here.
- The Helsingborg library is set beautifully in the middle of a large city park, right in the center of town. The park is replete with towering, flowering trees, small duck-filled ponds, gardens, and a playground. Something that I think is really cool is that people with library cards can rent out hammocks for 2 hours at a time and set them up in the park if they want to read outside. One can also check out a large blanket and a wicker picnic basket, and get lunch in the library’s cafe and bring it outside for a picnic. I think that’s so cool!
- Helsingborg is a city with a large immigrant population, especially Middle Eastern and Russian immigrants. As such, the library has a substantial selection in Farsi, Arabic, Russian, and Urdu, as well as a smaller selection of about 20 other tongues. They also have an enormous English section; I was amazed to see how many English novels they had, even new ones.
- I got to join a group of librarians who went to local bookstores yesterday and bought for the library. The book stores basically closed down when we came in, because we bought hundreds upon hundreds of books in about ten minutes. They gave me free rein to grab whatever I wanted, and they bought it for the library. It felt like being a millionaire, pulling books off the shelf with no regard for price.
Suffice to say, I’m really enjoying this internship so far.