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Vi älskar bibliotek - The Swedish Library Lovers campaign

Download - mp3  (6,3 mb)
Download Podcast (mp3/2,79 mb)
Spieldauer/Running Time: 6min 6sec

Interview with Britta Lejon

The Swedish Library Association breaks new ground in library lobbying. LIBREAS talks with its current president, Britta Lejon, about "Library Lovers" and how to put libraries on the political agenda.


Transliteration of the Interview

Interview with Britta Lejon
Najko Jahn (Interview), Sandra Lechelt (Transliteration)
Sprache/Language: English
Spieldauer/Running Time: 6min 6 sec
Datei/File: mp3/2,79 mb
Bitrate: 64 kBit/s
Aufnahmedatum/Recorded: 29. April 2008
Veröffentlicht/Published: 26. Mai 2008
"Library Lovers"

LIBREAS: Today the LIBREAS podcast proudly presents the current president of the Swedish Library Association who is responsible for the very sympathic 'Library Lovers' campaign. Hej Britta, it's a pleasure having you here!

Britta Lejon: Hello, hello. It's nice to be here!

LIBREAS: You launched a campaign in order to sensitize the Swedish voters to the situation of libraries. What's the situation like in Sweden?

Britta Lejon: Well, I would say that even though the Swedish local municipalities and the Swedish government are spending a lot of money on libraries we can feel fear declining reading abilities among kids and young people and that is very very worrying. And we want to launch this campaign in order to make it very clear that libraries have a big and important role in changing this development. We think that the Swedish politicians aren't aware of the potentials that modern libraries can offer.

LIBREAS: Okay, you demand new mandatory regulations for libraries. From 1996 on there is a Swedish library law - why did it fail?

Britta Lejon: I wouldn't say it has failed but, you know, it is a very soft law. There is no punishment if for example local municipalities don't follow it. And we think that we simply have to evaluate this to draw conclusions of the development so far. And, of course, we would like to see a harder law in the future.

LIBREAS: What strikes me with 'Library Lovers' is that it seems to target only one particular group. Your merchandized product and the campaign logo is coloured pink and the style reminds of comics. At first glance it does not differ from 'Hello Kitty'. Why did you choose that?

Britta Lejon: Well, the comparison to "Hello Kitty", I haven't thought about that earlier but that's true. It looks a little bit like that. Well, we wanted to draw attention and we choose to do that in a warm, lovely way. But this campaign also consists of hard facts about Swedish libraries, about reading abilities and such a thing. So, I would say it is a hard and serious message in a very warm parcel. So we think it's a good way of both: drawing attention and lifting up a very difficult discussion on difficult matters.

LIBREAS: But aren't you afraid that 'Library Lovers' adresses only 'coming of age' women or are they the upholders of social impact of libraries in society? What do you think about that?

Britta Lejon: Well, I would say first of all the campaign has been received very well from, I would say, everyone. Well, of course you could say that women are the upholders of libraries in society in many ways. But our campaign isn't a message for them because than it would fail. We need to have campaigns that are adressing the society as a whole, both, men and women and mainly our campaigns focus each on the decision makers, the politicans mainly. So no, we choose the pink colour because it's a warm colour and it draws attention to the message.

LIBREAS: Your campaign targets the federal election in 2010. What are your plans to maintain the importance of libraries?

Britta Lejon: Yes, we want to put libraries on the agenda in the coming election. We want to raise the awareness among politicans and we want the political parties to make commitments about libraries and their potentials for the future. I would say that we have come quite long even though we have several years left. But when we have commitments from the political parties, then we as a library association will of course follow it up and continue to put questions towards the politicians and to evaluate their commitments and how they do their jobs. So we will continue our work even after the next election, but our focus is to raise the awareness among the politicians and to make them ready to do something about the situation. So we want to put the efforts in their field, on their agenda.

LIBREAS: How would you review the success of your campaign so far? Are libraries more on the political agenda due to your campaign in Sweden now?

Britta Lejon: As a matter of fact they are! We have been more successful than we thought we would be so far. Already in the last elections, we managed to put some of the library questions on the political agenda which we frankly thought we only could be able to do in the next election. So YES, I would say libraries are more on the political agenda. But we haven't received commitments from the politicians yet. So we still have to do a lot of work.

LIBREAS: Do you think your campaign could be a shining example for european library lobbying and loving?

Britta Lejon: No, I wouldn't say so. I mean we are certain that we are doing the right thing for the Swedish situation right now. But that doesn't mean that this is a campaign that would be successful in for example Germany. Different countries have different problems and also different possibilities. But I would say so much that I would say that it is extremely important that all of Europe has the awareness and see that libraries have a crucial role in our modern societies of today. So if Germans, for example, also think that libraries aren't on the political agenda or aren't receiving as much financial resources that are needed, I would say that you have to do your own campaign. But we are very happy with our 'library lovers' campaign! It's going well.

LIBREAS: Thank you very much for your time and good luck for 'Library Lovers'!

Britta Lejon: Thank you very much.



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