The library service answers - just about anything!
The library service is a service that gives anyone the opportunity to ask a librarian about anything. The service is free to use and is financed by an annual operating grant from the Royal Library of Sweden. Malmö City Library is responsible for the technical and practical setup as well as continuing education of the approximately 150 operators (those who answer questions) from just over 40 different public libraries.
How many kinds of ants are there in the world?
The operators get questions about everything between heaven and earth. For example, "how many kinds of ants are there in the world", "how are PET bottles manufactured" or even trickier issues such as "what is the name of that favorite book that I read as a child that was about a black dog and probably had a blue cover?" The questions often come from children and young people, but adults also use the service.
What a fantastic job! If I would ever change from accessibility work, I would definitely try to work with this service, said Karin Forsell, content accessibility specialist at Funka.
All responses are sent via e-mail and placed in a searchable archive that is open to the public. When answering, it’s especially important to use a language that everyone understands, regardless of reading ability.
Malmö City Library has assigned Funka to help increase the knowledge about writing in an accessible way, in plain language and easy to read.
We never know for sure who asked the question we answer. Therefore, we need to learn to respond in a way that is clear and can be understood by many. In the latest series of meetings where all operators meet in different locations, Funka’s Karin Forsell has participated with a much appreciated lecture on how to write in an accessible way, said Jenny Nyberg, coordinator of Malmö City Library.
The lectures have given immediate results.
We who work on developing the service see a difference in how questions are answered by the operators who have been listening to Karin. There are several of them who write according to the guiding principles of plain language and how to publish in an accessible way. This means, among other things, that we publish better links and the disposition of the texts are also improving, said Peter Stenberg, coordinator of Malmö City Library.
The library service wants to be a role model
The service is striving to lead the way for other public services when it comes to accessibility. The next step is to upgrade the technical platform. The goal is, among other things, to integrate tools that make it easier to write in plain language and generally make the service more easy to use and the content more accessible to all people.