Digital Norrköping

Two rows of book shelves in a library. In the space between them, a person sitting at a table in seen at a distance.
Thor Balkhed

A digital Norrköping for all! The project aims to map and analyze digital exclusion and how libraries and their staff work and develop strategies to increase inclusion and participation.

Digitalization is fundamentally changing society and all people are affected in different ways by these changes. As with all social changes, there is an expectation that the development is positive and that everyone will benefit from it. But this is not the case. Digitalization challenges in new ways and creates new gaps in societies. Digital divides were already recognized twenty years ago, but today they are much more complex. The Swedish welfare state's high ambitions in terms of inclusion, participation and equality make it particularly important to work with digital inclusion, especially in municipalities that are close to citizens and provide most public services.

Purpose and questions

We want to contribute to developing the role of libraries for digital inclusion and how librarians' skills can be developed to support citizens' digital skills. The project aims to map and analyze digital exclusion and how libraries and their staff work and develop strategies to increase inclusion and participation.

The project is organized around three questions:

  1. Who experiences digital exclusion, in what ways are they excluded and how does this affect their ability to participate in society?
  2. What new tasks are added to the library and its staff, and what support can be developed?
  3. How can digital participation be interpreted in relation to other forms of participation in society?

The role of libraries in digital inclusion

The library's mission to promote digital inclusion in a society with new challenges. Including everyone is a major challenge. Today, almost half a million Swedes are outside the digital society. But it is difficult to define what constitutes digital participation and digital inclusion. It is not only about having access to the technology, but also being able to use it safely and understand the services available.

Our research team has highlighted the central role of libraries in increasing participation. There is thus a need for more research on digital inclusion and competence. It is about what contributes to digitally active and competent citizens. Both research and policy need to understand how new patterns or boundaries for digital competence and participation are formed and can be met.
At Norrköping Library, we have encountered a high ambition to work with digital inclusion. People come here and ask for help. According to the Library Act, the municipal public libraries must support digital inclusion.

Digital book buses

In 2016, Norrköping City Library conducted an experiment to convert one of the book buses into a digital media bus for a couple of weekends. It visited socio-economically weak areas such as Navestad and Klockaretorpet. We in the research group followed this project and similar activities at Motala Library and the regional library's involvement in the issues. A clear experience from all these projects is the high and partly new demands placed on librarians.


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