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The Role of Libraries
in the Information Society
Denmark - Background Information


Updated: 05 NOV 98


In connection with research on the role of libraries in the information society , we have collected a fair amount of information on how the situation is evolving in different countries. This document provides background information on the Denmark.


Generic data

In 1996, Denmark had 5.3 million inhabitants and an area of 43077 sq. km., which gives a population density of 121 inhabitants per square kilometre. In 1990, Denmark spent 0.41% of its GDP on libraries.

Higher education libraries

Higher education libraries in Denmark had 20 administrative units and 52 service points in 1996. The number of volumes in book collections was 12.6 million and there were 116,932 registered users.

Public libraries

Public libraries in Denmark had 845 service points and 57 bookmobiles in 1996. The number of volumes in stock in book collections was 31.3 million, with 2.5 million books acquired and 72.1 million books circulated.

The current expenditure on libraries was, in 1996, 2168.6 million DKR (gross)

The total number of employees (FTE) in these libraries, in 1996, was 5082, of which 2250 were librarians, 2334 were clerical workers and 440 other staff.

Statistical data on libraries

The total number of titles in UDC classes, was 11,973 in 1994, and was 11,492 in 1993. In comparison, in 1992, it was 11,761 and in 1991, 10,198.

The number of titles in the Danish National Bibliography, including books, yearbooks, new serial titles, microforms, etc., has been researched. From 1996, CD-ROM's were included in the Danish National Bibliography. The figures from 1990 to 1996 were:


Year Titles in the Danish National Bibliography
1990
15775
1991
15033
1992
16408
1993
16031
1994
16569
1995
17082
1996
16908

A total 20% of all interlibrary loans are carried out (e-mail or fax) via DanBib. 50% of the public libraries use telefax or e-mail for interlibrary loan orders.

In Denmark, basic library automation of public libraries has now been completed.

There is no on-line co-operative shared cataloguing scheme for public libraries but a central service where the libraries buy their records from the Danish Library Centre.

Only 11 public libraries allow the users to make a reservation from the OPAC and remote access via public networks to public library catalogues via WWW is offered in some 30 local authorities.

The majority of the public libraries buy records as a data exchange service from the Danish Library Centre (Dansk BiblioteksCenter A/S) and titles catalogued locally are on average less than 5% of the acquisitions.

Check-out is offered as on a self-service basis in eight public libraries.

Some 30% of the public libraries do not use acquisition modules, but stick to manual routines.

In regard to databases, in 87% of higher education libraries and 95% of public libraries they are accessible to the public. There is a charging policy in 40% of higher education libraries and in 34% of public libraries.

Libraries and Internet

In Denmark, public libraries' use of the Internet is supported by actions set up by the National Library Authority. In June 1996, 100 public libraries had access to the Internet; by October the number was 122. The number of libraries providing access to their users has increased from 66 to 81 in the period. Ten public libraries had their own homepage in June 1996, the number had increased to 21 by October 1996.

In June 1997, the number of public libraries with Web sites, according to the list of the Union of Danish Librarians, that also had a Web site, was 67. The Royal Library of Copenhagen, the Royal Danish School of Librarians, the Danish Library Centre and many academic libraries also had Web sites available.

126 local authorities have expressed a wish to provide Internet access for their users and 119 want to create a homepage. 30 have decided to make their OPAC available via the Web.

More than 50% of Danish public libraries were linked to the Internet by the end of February 1997. The rest are expected to follow before 2000.

The use of CD-ROM in Danish libraries is growing fast. Surveys on the number and titles of CD-ROM products have been carried out in 1992 and 1994 by the National Library Authority. In 1992, 22% of public libraries had CD-ROM products. In 1995 the percentage had increased to 30% and in 1997 to 55% . In 1995, 76% of higher education libraries had access to CD-ROM.

Policy issues on libraries

In 1994, the Government published a report entitled "Info-Society 2000". In March the following year the Ministry of Research & Information Technology issued a Statement to Parliament with a report called "From Vision to Action - Info Society 2000" . This document outlined a Danish Political Action Plan, which came into force in 1995. A new follow-up to this plan was launched in 1996, "The Info-Society for All - the Danish Model".

With a view to realising the Government's goal of between 5 and 10 pupils per up-to-date computer, the number of newly-purchased PCs is to be doubled so that about 12,500 PCs will be purchased annually by 1999.

The Government recommends that local councils incorporate IT into the finances of their public libraries in order to support continued development of the application of IT in this sector. All public libraries should give the general public access to the Internet by not later than the end of 1997.

For the large number of Danes who do not have the possibility of using computers at work, there must be alternative opportunities to become familiar them and have access to the information network. In this respect, adult education and the public libraries will be the principal instruments.

All basic services in libraries are provided to the users free of charges by the libraries, but Internet access is not mentioned in the Danish library law as a basic service.

The public libraries in Denmark need an IT investment in 1997 and 1998 of approximately 300 million DKR. in order to live up to current IT standards. This need was acknowledged by the Minister of Culture in the spring of 1997, and it will be proposed to the Government that state grants should be made availablable over a period of 3 years for public libraries' IT upgrading.

As responsible for the libraries sector in her former Ministry, the new Minister of Research and Information Technology had succeeded in securing more resources for new library buildings as well as for support of a number of pilot projects on upgrading of IT-based services in public libraries. Also the political goal of free access to all information for everyone has high priority on the agenda of the present Minister.

The Ministry of Culture has appointed a committee on libraries in the info-society (UBIS). This committee has examined the tasks and conditions of the libraries in the light of developments in electronic publishing, and dealt with matters as copyright, statutory deposit of electronic works, forthcoming information services and methods of financing the use of the new media at the library. In November 1997, UBIS published a discussion paper in Danish Bibliotekerne i Informationssamfundet addressing all these issues.

As the basic automation of the public libraries is now completed, the National Library Authority has reserved 6.5 million DKR. to be spent in 1996 and 1997 to encourage networking connections in the public libraries.

The Danish National Library Authority has launched a project that has the purpose of determining the technically best and least costly approaches for connecting the libraries to networks. In order to stimulate public libraries' networking, libraries can receive a 20 thousand DKR grant for connecting to the Internet. This is however dependent on offering access to the library's users - both children and adults, throughout the library's opening hours and on providing guidance on using the Internet and searching on it. For setting up a homepage, there is a grant of 65 thousand DKR on condition that it provides information on the cultural resources of the library and other places and that it enables the library catalogue to be searched.

Via the centrally co-ordinated state support for networking, the goal is that all public libraries will have access to Internet by the end of 1997. 130 public libraries have (by April 1997) applied for state support for network connection of which some already have access via modem.

In February 1996, the Minister of Culture awarded financial grants to a publisher for a project on publication of Danish fiction on-demand. Fees for printing have been negotiated with some 100 Danish (professional) authors for making their works available for downloading on-line or for dissemination on disk.

Cultural Network Denmark intends to ensure better facilities for informing a wide circle of institutes and individuals, by making possible public electronic access to digitised information.

In 1996, the Ministry of Culture gave economic support to eight pilot projects running under the auspices of Cultural Network Denmark. These projects were expected to make diverse culture-historical information available, in the form of sound, text passages and images, on the Internet (World Wide Web) by the end of 1996. Nine new projects has been launched in 1997 with support from the Ministry of Culture to stimulate digitisation of the cultural items held in libraries, arvhives and museums.

During the period 1996-1999, DKR 120 million is reserved for the establishment and operation of a research network, which is to link the approximately 90 Danish research institutes together in a modern electronic infrastructure that offers high-speed transmission of text, sound, images, etc. Companies involved in research and development activities are being offered connection to this network for the purpose of research-related use.

The Ministry of Culture, The Ministry of Research and The Ministry of Education wants in the periode 1998 2002 to establish a joint project Denmark's Electronic Research Library through a network of academic libraries and information centers. The system of academic libraries forms a virtual system, which transcends the borders of regional/local libraries.The fiscal needs will amount to about 200 million DKR. in order to implement and upgrade the information systems and network to an adequate level. All development will be based on present technical possibilities.

According to the Danish National Institute for Educational Research, as many as 500,000 Danes, approximately 10% of the population, are functionally illiterate.

Since Denmark of today is characterised by an extensive electronic infrastructure, the aim is to ensure that the best possible use is made in the public and private sectors of data stored in public-sector databases - with due consideration to the sensitivity of personal data.


Report on the situation of libraries, museums and archives prepared in April 1998 by the Danish National Focal Point for the European Commission's Libraries Sector.
European Commission

DG Information Society
Cultural Heritage Applications Unit Contact:Digicult
e-mail: digicult@ec.europa.eu (email removed)



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