Staffless libraries – recent Danish public library experiences

Carl Gustav Johannsen (Royal School of Library and Information Science, Copenhagen, Denmark)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Publication date: 13 July 2012



Modern IT‐based loans and delivery automation systems combined with video surveillance and monitoring cameras have enabled new service opportunities and models in public libraries. In Denmark, staffless public libraries have appeared recently in many local communities. This article aims to report on the Danish experiences with open libraries in terms of local community characteristics, their use – visits and loans, characteristics of the users in terms of sex and age and, finally, an analysis of critical success factors revealed in association with open libraries.


The data upon which this article is based were collected during the autumn of 2011 by the Danish Center for Library and Media through an electronic questionnaire to all 97 of Denmark's municipalities.


The origins of the concept of open libraries were shaped by the opportunities made by a combination of the technological development of automated loans and delivery systems and electronic surveillance techniques. The open library concept has been described as a success in terms of growth rates of visits and increasing number of loans.


The article shows that the concept has been quite successful in terms of use and local support and that it has strengthened the position of the local public libraries in the local communities.



Gustav Johannsen, C. (2012), "Staffless libraries – recent Danish public library experiences", New Library World, Vol. 113 No. 7/8, pp. 333-342.

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