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Digital Transformation, Roles, and Skills in Copenhagen Libraries
By ,
Volume 42, Number 2 - March/April 2018

The Copenhagen Model

Not only did the reduction of on-desk hours, the longer opening hours, and the desire to initiate more outreach ini tiatives call for new service concepts, it also became of para mount importance to rethink the roles of our librarians and to develop new competencies. To this end, we defined six major roles that we believe are necessary in the library today and in the future: the project manager, the culture creator, the collec tion specialist, the information specialist, the learning specialist, and the service facilitator.

A set of primary tasks and core competencies were assigned to each profile. During the implementation of the strategy, the libraries invested heavily in competency development based on the profiles. Customized education was created specifically for each profile. Through 1:1 conversations with management, staff members were assigned a primary and a secondary profile. The Copenhagen Model as illustrated in Figures 1 and 2 on page 13 is used for not only competency development activities but for internal organization and recruitment as well.

Value creation in the digital library

The last phase in the strategic rollout is the digital library. We define a digital library as a collection of information re sources and services made available to the public through the internet. As such, we already had a digital library, but not one that sufficiently served our mission.

We spent some time analyzing the way the digital library creates value for its users. The communication part of the digital library, where it facilitates the promotion of and conver sations about literature, is built on the technical foundation of collection, access, and services. The foundational layers presuppose the top layers, and everything in the foundational layers needs to support communicative activities or be discontinued. (See Figure 3 on page 13.)

The three communication layers show a progression in the education of a citizen. For example, new patrons start using the digital library and access its many inspirational functionalities such as guides, articles, and podcasts. They develop a critical sense of available knowledge and culture, their own media consumption, and the validity of sources by learning more and more. This, in turn, enables them to participate in the democratic discourse and cultural conversations within their society. This, of course, is without normative expectations or nudging toward any particular brand of media. It is an infrastructure available to the user, which further down the line will be increasingly open to personalization and direct participation.

All the while, there is feedback between the two parts of the pyramid, because lessons learned in the communicative part inform the ongoing decisions regarding the design of ser vices and collection development. These decisions, in turn, determine what kind of communication efforts are available to the library.

User surveys, comparative studies, and internal evaluations have taught us that there is work to be done in the foundation. Quite simply, our infrastructure and services are not yet up to par, as commercial services are ramping up us ability and sleekness of design. As for the upper parts of the value pyramid, we turn to collaboration with other institutions, public and commercial, and once again to the Copenhagen Model and competence development programs.

The Copenhagen model 2.0

Version 1.0 of The Copenhagen Model lacks mention of the common skills that all staff members need. The one thing every staff member of Copenhagen Libraries shares with their colleagues is not a skill set but a service philosophy. While mapping the needed skills for the digital library, we defined the first common skills needed by everyone.

The division of labor between the information specialist on one hand and the other roles on the other demonstrates the philosophy of the model. The information specialist alone needs to be familiar with our more esoteric digital services and licenses, whereas other staff members only need to be familiar with the most common services such as our national ebook and digital audio book service, the most common newspaper database, etc. (See Figure 4 above.)

To some degree, we’re making a virtue of necessity, because in order to retain and develop skills, you need to use them reg ularly. In other words, you need to perform relevant tasks re quiring your skills on a regular basis or your skill set deterio rates. Only the information specialists in Library Online have regular tasks requiring knowledge of our special information resources, but gathering all such tasks there ensures that all Library Online staff become experts.

In 2018, the new skill sets will be added to the Copenhagen Model, bringing about version 2.0 through an extensive competence development program.

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Rie Bojer Kooistra is a senior advisor, Copenhagen Libraries.

Mikkel Christoffersen is a senior advisor, Copenhagen Libraries.


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