In order to enhance the services of libraries, the Ministry of Education takes a policy to expand the horizons of domestic public library service authorities and practitioners, and to increase understanding of the development of international libraries. The Ministry of Education entrusted National Central Library to arrange the Taiwan Public Library Norway and Sweden Benchmark Library Visit. This activity was conducted from September 24th to October 1st, visiting the main library and branch libraries of the municipal libraries of Oslo, the capital of Norway, and the main library in Stockholm, the capital of Sweden. NCL Deputy Director-General Chih-Tsung Weng was designated as Dean of this public library study group. The members of the group include directors of the municipal city libraries and representatives of county and city cultural bureaus who have facilitated the construction plan for the new main library in recent years, directors of the county and city public library regional resource centers, representatives of the education and cultural bureaus, and representatives of the winners of the First Ministry of Education Library Service Contribution Award. A total of 11 representatives of public libraries participated in this delegation.
The first day of the trip involved a visit to the main library and distinctive branches of Oslo Public Library in Norway. The first stop was the Biblo Toyen Library, whose director, Reinert Mithassel, personally conducted a guided tour. Biblo Toyen Library primarily consists of two library buildings, one of which is an exclusive space for teenagers aged 10-15, while the other is for the general public to use freely. After the visit to Biblo Toyen Library, the second stop was the Grunerlokka Library, the oldest library in Norway. After its space revitalization and renovation of 2019, the interior furnishings and space planning dispensed with the old-fashioned, replacing it with rich colors and vitality, more in line with the needs and expectations of residents. The finale of the first day of the trip was a visit to the Deichman Bjorvika, the main library of Oslo Public Library, which won the International Federation of Library Associations’ (IFLA) 2021 Public Library Award. Its white, neat and simple Nordic style complements the neighboring Oslo Opera House, and blends naturally with the Aker Brygge wharf. The library cost about 2.5 billion Norwegian Kroner and its design and construction took 11 years. It was finally opened on June 18, 2020, and became a new landmark in the capital city. In its first year it welcomed 1.2 million visitors. It is currently used by about 7,000 people daily.
The important aspects observed from the on-site tours of each benchmarking library include the flexible use of library space, ingenious interior design, library services design and resources deployment that reflects people-oriented operational thinking, emphasis on the creation of connections between people, embracement of ideas in ensuring environmental sustainability and continual development, etc. The group members all treasure this rare opportunity, and interact actively with and seek help from the staff of the libraries. They were richly rewarded, profoundly encouraged, and much inspired, hoping to utilize their acquired knowledge in the practical operation of each of their libraries. With the knowledge and motivation, it is believed that the collective efforts by all members of the delegation will be influential to opening of a new page in the development of library services in Taiwan.