Written by Alejandra Quiroz Hernandez
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Back in 2016, some colleagues and I were talking about libraries from around the world. Ramón brought up the recently awarded Best Public Library of 2015. He said it was a library located in Kista, a suburb in Stockholm, Sweden. The name lingered in my mind until some months later, my sister invited me to join her new filming adventure in Stockholm. After saying yes, I planned my visit to Kista Bibliotek.
It was very easy. I had to take the subway blue line to Kista and then have a small walk. It turned out to be a bit longer than I expected because I couldn’t find the library anywhere. There was a shopping mall right next to the subway station but no sight of the library. Then I understood: Kista Bibliotek is inside the shopping mall. What a surprise!
My jaw almost dropped to the ground when I saw the escalators right next to a kitchenware supply store. I got to the first level and walked in. I couldn’t believe my eyes: they had hammocks next to the Windows. The whole floor is open, with very few walls. Their well defined sections reveals how the library serves everyone. Yellow arches house the computers available for patrons.
A white room is filled with shelves of many styles that offer many reading materials: from books to magazines. One of the main features is their international languages literature. They have books in greek, spanish, chinese, arabic, french and many others. This proves their awareness of who is visitng the library and how they can meet their needs.
The library counts with a wide range of learning spaces. Almost in the center there is the Språkstudion, a library service for the learning of different languages. One of the most required is the teaching of swedish to non speakers, often offered by retired librarians. It also offers 23 rooms for studying in groups that can be booked in advance.
The children’s section has a reading space and a room for workshops. Again, it offers books in many languages. Children are free to roam through the section and enjoy their time around. An auditorium is available for special presentations. However, librarians and patrons make the most of every inch of the floor plan.
Libray staff is at the heart of the project. It is composed by very well trained librarians that speak different languages, some of them are specialized in IT, digital services or education. They are committed to serve their community in the best way possible. You can see their recommendations all over the library.
In 2017, the second time I went to Stockholm, I was lucky enough to coincide with World Refugee Days, an event gathering great library services for refugees in Sweden and elsewhere in the world. I got to meet very interesting projects such as Ideas Box by Libraries Without Borders, The Garden Library in Tel Aviv, The Glass Room Experience by Tactical Tech among other amazing projects.
The library opened its doors inside Kista Galleria on August 2014.It was previously located next to Kista Torg, not that far from the current location. Moving in was the recognition of a reality: the library has to be where the people meet. As son as they moved, the numbers proved them right: the number of visits increased by a 300% and the book loans were doubled. The Library is open daily from 10 to 21 hours. It’s a wide range of service considering most european libraries schedules.