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The public libraries are the most used cultural institution in Denmark. More than 2/3 of all Danes make use of the libraries, and there are public libraries in all parts of the country.

The objective of the public libraries in Denmark is to promote knowledge and provide a framework for information, education and cultural activity for all citizens. The library must be maintained as a physical place as well as a place for developing new digital services. This is reflected in the wide selection of materials that the libraries place at disposal in the form of books, periodicals, music, internet and multimedia.

The Danish library system

The public libraries belong in the area of responsibility of the local authorities, and the state’s engagement takes the form of responsibility for the Library Act as well as coordinating and developing tasks attended to by the Danish Agency for Culture. The Library Act prescribes that there must be a library in every municipality with separate departments for adult literature and children’s literature, free and equal access for citizens, and access to all kinds of media, including free internet access. This ensures that there is a uniform and high level of service for citizens all over the country.

Several types of libraries

There are different types of libraries in Denmark. Every single state school has a school library and there are public libraries in every municipality. There are two national state libraries: The Royal Library and the State and University Library. Their task is to collect and preserve the Danish cultural heritage and make it accessible in the form of published works. This includes everything from newspapers and books to photographs and cards in both digital and physical form. In addition there are university and academic libraries as well as Denmark’s Electronic Research Library. 

All libraries in the country cooperate on loans to users. Among other things, it is possible to search all library collections in the country through bibliotek.dk. In practice, cooperation between the libraries means that it is possible for all users to order books from all library collections in the state, with day to day delivery all over the country.

    Summary from the committee on public libraries in the knowledge society.

    • In 2010 the net operating costs of the public libraries totalled 2,646,844 (thousand DKK) in current prices.

    • In 2010 the libraries had a total of more than 76 million loans, including renewals. Books comprised 67.5 % of all loan activities, music amounted to 11 % and film to 10 %.

    • The public libraries registered more than 36 million physical visits in 2010.

    • More than half of all libraries also house other public functions than the library system, and 21 per cent of all public libraries focus on citizen service.

    • Almost half of the libraries in the country have homework cafés.

    • There are 210 reading clubs in public libraries around the country.