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Public libraries and the national minorities of Sweden – results of a national survey

Joacim Hansson (Department of Library and Information Science, School of Cultural Studies, Linnaeus University, Växjö, Sweden)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Article publication date: 4 October 2011




The purpose of the paper is to report the findings of a Swedish national survey study finalised in late 2010. The purpose of the project was to create a picture of Swedish library services directed to the five minority groups defined as “national minorities” in the country: Romani, Sámi, Jews, Tornedalians and Swedish Finns. The study focuses on media, cultural activities, and co‐operation.


In the study, a survey questionnaire was used as the primary method. The questionnaire was sent to all 289 county libraries of Sweden. A total of 181 were returned and used in the study. The theoretical stance is emancipatory in that it takes the position that libraries may play a vital role not only for the social integration of the concerned minority groups, but also for spreading interest in, and understanding of, the unique identities of these groups in the majority society.


The findings of the study show that Swedish public libraries have very limited services towards the national minority groups in focus. In some cases, like service to the elderly and out‐reach activity, no activity whatsoever could be measured.


The research reported in the article is original in that it is the first time that the services to the national minority groups of Sweden are mapped and measured at a national level. The value of the result is high as it shows major weaknesses in library services and the study provides a good point of departure for developing minority services in Swedish libraries.



Hansson, J. (2011), "Public libraries and the national minorities of Sweden – results of a national survey", New Library World, Vol. 112 No. 9/10, pp. 406-415.



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