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7th Congress of Baltic Librarians DIVERSITY IN UNITY: BALTIC LIBRARIES IN THE EUROPEAN UNION ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Jonna Holmgaard Larsen
Chief Consultant, Danish National Library Authority /
Editor, Scandinavian Public Library Quarterly

NORDIC STRATEGIES FOR LIBRARY DEVELOPMENT

Abstract
This paper is a presentation of Nordic strategies for library development within some essential and current areas. The starting point of the description is the conditions in Denmark, followed by parallels and comparisons with the other Nordic countries. A common overall strategy is the development of the hybrid library with the continuous development of electronic services as the major challenge. The new services will then have to be followed up by changes in the library’s physical design. Introduction
Does is make sense to speak about Nordic strategies for library development collectively, one might ask. The Nordic countries’ libraries have many features in common, but they are also different in many ways and work under different conditions. What binds the Nordic libraries together is that they are all developed in democratic societies where enlightenment and free access to information have by tradition been important elements and where the libraries are considered to be core institutions in society. The Nordic libraries are among the most frequently used in the world and among the most adaptable. Historically, linguistically and culturally the Nordic countries have many traits in common. Norway, Sweden and Denmark have for certain periods been part of the same state, and in the three countries we understand each other’s language. What makes for different conditions is i.a. the geography. Denmark is a small, densely populated country, while the other Nordic countries have to serve very large sparsely populated areas, which means that resources have to stretch further. The library structure consequently varies in the different countries, especially the state authorities differ in size as well as framework. For the Baltic countries with their relatively new democracies it must be quite natural to take a look at what is happening in the North. Historically speaking, there is a certain affinity between the North and the Baltic states. All the countries are small in terms of population and are therefore comparable to an extent. Over the past few years, several cooperative initiatives have been launched between Nordic and Baltic countries. Frames for library development
All the Nordic countries: Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway and Iceland have a library act, the Danish act being the oldest. The first one dates from 1920. Both Finland and Norway had their library legislation early on, Iceland got its first library act in 1955. Sweden did not introduce a library act until 1996 and this act is still valid. 7th Congress of Baltic Librarians DIVERSITY IN UNITY: BALTIC LIBRARIES IN THE EUROPEAN UNION ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Norway’s latest library act is from 1985, while Finland and Iceland have library acts from the latter part of the nineties. The current Danish library act dates from 2000. The Nordic countries all have certain government means at their disposal for the support of library development. Often in the shape of frames for special programmes. In Denmark we have about 15 mil. DKK annually in a development pool for public and school libraries. In Finland the government allocates state aid (25-50%) for the establishment of libraries and the purchase of book mobiles. Norway and Sweden have schemes for the support of literature, where the state purchases quality books and distributes these between the libraries. The state authorities also have at their disposal means for development projects and programmes. In Denmark the county libraries are financed by the state. Cooperation on the superstructure assignment which these libraries carry out, is governed by four-year contracts with the Danish National Library Authority. Co-operation and dialogue with the library system’s partners is a decisive strategy in the administration of the responsibility for library development in all the Nordic countries. In Denmark this takes place in the Library Council, in a number of advisory committees and via hearings, debates and conferences. Strategies for library development
The vision about ’The hybrid library’ is a major factor when placing library development in the Nordic countries on the agenda – as also defined i.a. in EU. The hybrid library is characterised by a close interplay between virtual services and services in the physical space. The interplay manifests itself in giving web access to catalogues of the collections, be they physical or virtual collections. As far as the virtual services are concerned the potential is to integrate access to information increasingly more closely in people’s everyday lives, whereas for the physical library the important thing is to develop the library as a space for learning and culture. Both aspects indicate a move towards the personalised library and a marked development of the competencies of the librarian. As the only Nordic country, Finland has a collective, approved strategy for library development: ’Library Strategy 2010. Policy for access to knowledge and culture’ published by the Finnish Ministry of Education in 2003. It is based on the vision of the hybrid library. Norway has an integration of Archive, Library and Museum as the basis for governmental development strategy for libraries, the three areas having amalgamated in a common agency: ABM-utvikling. The Ministry of Culture and Church Affairs has this summer commissioned a report on important issues and challenges within the library sector, covering public, academic and special libraries. The intention is to formulate an overall library strategy. 7th Congress of Baltic Librarians DIVERSITY IN UNITY: BALTIC LIBRARIES IN THE EUROPEAN UNION ________________________________________________________________________________________________ The Danish National Library Authority has just prepared an internal paper, describing the strategies for our development work. This paper will attempt to concretise work on ’the hybrid library’ under four Infrastructure, development of library services, organisational structure and cooperation models and the physical library. Infrastructure
We have to develop the infrastructure so as to create the closest possible interplay between the national library catalogues and between national and local library systems. In Denmark we have the national common catalogue DanBib – a tool to support a streamlined interlibrary loan cooperation across different types of libraries. As an extension of DanBib we have the user-orientated catalogue library.dk which gives access to all citizens from their own homes to search and order materials from any public Danish library. We consider library.dk to be the very backbone of the hybrid library. Having created a common access to the catalogues, the next step will be to extend the volume of full-text documents under the records. Library.dk opened in the autumn of 2000 and we can say that quite a number of library patrons have taken the service to their hearts! In 2003 about 850.000 requests were made via library.dk. Such a large number of requests have, naturally enough, brought about a continuous increase in the volume of materials that circulate between the libraries. In order to support the interlibrary loan cooperation and to make transport between the libraries cheaper and more effective, the Danish National Library Authority in January 2004 initiated a national transport scheme. The scheme is based on a ’pivotal point’ solution which ensures daily transport between 12 pivotal points in the country. From these points, regional routes are used to transport the material to all the public libraries, research libraries and a vast number of educational libraries. Denmark’s Electronic Research Library (DEF) is developing a national infrastructure for research and education. An important aspect of this infrastructure is the establishment of a coherent and simple access to the Danish research libraries through the portal deff.dk. Apart from this, DEF makes available about 9,000 electronic periodicals and a research database. The other Nordic countries also have strategies pointing in the direction of increased cooperation and greater coherence between the various libraries and library types. Bibliotek.se, the Swedish equivalent of library.dk, also gives access to searching in the catalogues of both the public and the research libraries. Unlike library.dk. it is not built on a common base, but there is a connection between the bases of the two sectors which makes it possible for the borrower to search in the collective resources. 7th Congress of Baltic Librarians DIVERSITY IN UNITY: BALTIC LIBRARIES IN THE EUROPEAN UNION ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Iceland is unique in that it has a national and also centrally run library system for all library types. Apart from the catalogues of the libraries’ physical collections, the system also contains full-text journals, e-books and encyclopaedias. The Norwegian project ’Norwegian Digital Library’, which is under development, has the following declaration of intent: ”a system that breaks down walls between the separate libraries and makes their collective information resources available to everyone in a simple way”. One measure in support of the cooperating library system is to use standards. In line with the other Nordic countries, Denmark is continually working on the development and implementation of standards for technical interoperability. The challenges presented here are e-registration and the formulation of a strategy for the libraries’ promotion of net services. Development of library services
Over the past ten years the development of the libraries’ role in the information society has been at the top of the agenda in the North – as indeed internationally. As the Internet more and more becomes the medium for information search, a number of Danish libraries have been trying the develop the role of instructors in information search on the Internet and the next step: information literacy. In the public libraries this takes place on two fronts: In close cooperation with educational institutions like primary and secondary schools and out-of-school education for young people, and independently as an open offer to adults who at the present time are not part of the established educational system, but who are in a life-learning process. It has been debated whether information literacy is the librarian’s task or whether it should be left to professional educators. In DNLA we are convinced of the justification of libraries entering into this role, and feel that the libraries’ very great strength is their position as an ’open’ space where everyone is welcome. We support several projects that deal with the development of this role, and we have in various ways supported pedagogical courses for librarians. Within the research library area we have been working on developing e-learning courses in the subject, and our vision is that anyone starting a course of further education should pass an exam in information literacy as part of this education. In Finland the libraries’ position is very strong in this area, as the public libraries’ societal role as stakeholders in the information society has been confirmed in the government’s information policy. In Sweden the government has (in 2002) formulated a strategy for adult learning, supported by a grant to further adult students’ access to library service which the Swedish authority for library affairs, The Cultural Council, administrates. Information literacy is also the object of Nordic cooperation on two projects. The Nordic county libraries are together working on the project ‘Strategies on Information 7th Congress of Baltic Librarians DIVERSITY IN UNITY: BALTIC LIBRARIES IN THE EUROPEAN UNION ________________________________________________________________________________________________ Literacy in Nordic Public Libraries’. The project is supported by Nordbok. The Nordic research libraries have a common project nordinfoLIT that deals with i.a. research within this particular field. In Denmark the public libraries in particular have developed a number of net services – net libraries we have started to call them to emphasize that we are talking about library service in a new form. They have typically been created by a small group of large libraries getting together in order to develop an idea and have received financial support from national development means. As the services unfold and extend, more libraries have joined in the running of them. Like for example an ask-a-librarian service, a site for children, one for linguistic minorities, a literature site and a subject-divided guide of quality-assessed pages for the net, just to mention a few. DNLA provides financial support for a number of them via the special superstructure pool. The real challenge is to prioritize between them and support the best ones and those we consider will meet a social need. Right now we are facing the task of working out a national strategy for these net libraries. This must – as in all our work – happen in a dialogue with the libraries who quite justifiably feel a strong ownership in relation to the net libraries. The other Nordic countries have - to a certain extent inspired by the Danish example – developed parallels to a number of net libraries. For example the ask-a-librarian service where the Nordic countries now network on mutual exchange of experience. The Danish finfo.dk for linguistic minorities in Denmark has also encouraged the development of similar sites in Finland and Norway, and Sweden is following. At the recent IFLA Conference in Buenos Aires, Århus Municipal Libraries, who started finfo.dk, received the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation prize of 500,000 USD, mainly due to this achievement. A future challenge in relation to library services must in our opinion be to get more content on the net – for example full-text documents. The DEF project for Danish research libraries has – due to several years work on the purchase of licenses – now led to electronic loans in the research libraries exceeding the loan of physical materials. The public libraries, too, cooperate on the purchase of periodical licenses – first and foremost a task for the county libraries. The next number of Scandinavian Public Library (SPLQ), no. 4 this year, will have as its special theme: Online services. There will be an article dealing with the purchase of licenses in the Nordic countries, common traits and differences in the organisation of it. With the library act from 2000 it became obligatory for the Danish public libraries to lend music. Subsequently the libraries’ collections of CDs have grown and a completely new service has just been opened – loan of music files over the net. The establishment of the service was the result of lengthy and complicated negotiations which 7th Congress of Baltic Librarians DIVERSITY IN UNITY: BALTIC LIBRARIES IN THE EUROPEAN UNION ________________________________________________________________________________________________ DNLA carried out together with a consortium consisting of the State and University Library and six county libraries. We have negotiated with Phonofile, an association of rights holders from the music trade, publishers and vendors. (Phonofile, Denmark is in fact moulded on the Norwegian example). The negotiations were concentrated on buying a national license for all libraries in Denmark to enable them to lend music online. Phonofile has been given access to the State and University Library’s collection of legally deposited music which the library has been digitising over a number of years, and can therefore in principle mediate all Danish music. Phonofile provides a technical infrastructure which ensures that the rights owners get paid for the music that have been lent. The new service opened on 1. September with more than half the country’s public libraries as participants in the provisional 2-year project. The music files can be borrowed free of charge for one day or seven days at a time. An extra bonus is the fact that you can buy the music via a transfer to a vendor of net music, if you wish. This would make the library a kind of display window for the music trade and thereby support the sale of music. The Ministry of Culture and DNLA have supported the project with a total of 4 mil. DKK. Organisation structure and cooperation models
The shift of paradigm in the libraries, with the introduction of new services and other forms of mediation, creates a need for organisational changes internally in the libraries and in the cooperation between them as well as cooperation with other partners. Taking effect from this year, and being one of the consequences of the Danish library act of 2000, we changed the organisation of the superstructure function for the public libraries. We have changed the structure of the supply of materials into a more rational organisation with fewer parallel collections and allocated the county libraries some new tasks. The basic supply of material is managed by 10 county libraries (as opposed to previously 16). The new tasks are more concerned with development strategy. Like for example, development of the electronic services, advising the libraries in connection with development projects and competence development. These are carried out by 3-4 libraries. We are now apportioning government means to the county libraries according to contracts with DNLA as opposed to previously when this was done according to so-called objective criteria like number of inhabitants. In this way the county libraries can act an mediators of the Authority’s policy, the newly opened service with online music being a case in point. The organisation of the regional superstructure service is one area where the Nordic countries differ. In Norway, Sweden and Finland the regional libraries follow the county structure with a county library in each county. They are furthermore all financed by the regional authority through some form or other of government grant, but without having the same strategic management possibility as the Danish state has via its direct government financing and contract management. 7th Congress of Baltic Librarians DIVERSITY IN UNITY: BALTIC LIBRARIES IN THE EUROPEAN UNION ________________________________________________________________________________________________ An important strategy for the libraries’ success in the networking society is cooperation to ensure quality and efficiency of the library services. In all the Nordic countries one can perceive a development towards a situation where the borderlines between the public and the research libraries are obliterated. It happens via cooperations across and it happens as a result of concentrating on the user’s needs. Not least people in further education use the public as well as the research libraries. The work on information literacy takes place in close cooperation with the educational institutions. In a Nordic – and also in a European – context, cooperation between archives, libraries and museums has become a focal point. In Denmark we have also given financial support via our special pools to libraries that wish to cooperate across municipalities. We have done this to ensure that even the smallest municipal units would be able to live up to the library act’s demands for more new media and new tasks. The Danish government has recently adopted a general structural reform which will mean an extensive amalgamation of municipalities. The reform points the way ahead for more cooperation with other cultural institutions than is the case today. This is done, amongst other things, to preserve a library service in the new large municipalities where many local institutions are threatened by closure. The physical library
Another consequence of the new library services is the adaptation of the libraries’ physical space, the library buildings, in order that they to a greater extent may match the new services. The public library will still have to act as a cultural meeting place, i.a. providing events such as author nights, debates etc. and as the learning place for information competence which is under development. The essential aspect here it to create an integration of the physical and the virtual library. The increasing use of electronic services make new demands on the libraries’ design in terms of considerably more work stations with net access and fewer shelves with books. A number of newly built libraries in the Nordic countries – or library buildings in the making – reflect some interesting suggestions as to the library’ new role. Literature
Nordic Public Libraries, Danish National Library Authority, 2002 Library Strategy 2010, Ministry of Education, Helsinki, 2003. Scandinavian Public Library Quarterly, 2003-2004

Source: http://academia.lndb.lv/xmlui/bitstream/handle/1/709/jonna_holmgaard_larsen_nordic_strategies_for_library_development.pdf?sequence=1

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