Norrköping City Library

Norrköping is a city in the province of Östergötland in eastern Sweden. It is located near the mouth of the Motala ström river system, at an inlet of the Baltic Sea. Water power from the Motala ström and a good harbor helped make Norrköping a center for the textile industry. It is sometimes known as Sweden’s Manchester, referring to the industrial city in the United Kingdom. The Norrköping City Library is a modernist concrete building with 472,000 books and 16,000 audiobooks. There are also over 130 computer stations available for public use. The Head of Libraries is Dr. Birgitta Hjerpe. After studies in law and the arts, especially the visual arts, film, and music, Dr. Hjerpe pursued higher studies at the University of Borås, Sweden. Her special interests as a librarian range from childen’s services to information technology (IT) development. According to the Norrköping City Library website:

For Birgitta Hjerpe, our library is a collective collective memory and a living democratic outpost that defends and ensures that society can live up to human rights and freedoms, including the right to free information. In recent years, the library has generally focused on being an information and knowledge center. It is also an important task for the library to participate in lifelong learning, but we must not forget its role for the individual’s personal development, creativity and imagination, and that we can grow socially and culturally because the library is a meeting place for people with literature, music, movies and more. Culture is considered an important growth factor in today’s economy, according to Birgitta Hjerpe.

The Norrköping Library Association was founded in 1901. The main building in concrete was completed in 1972, designed by the architect Sten Samuelson. Sten Samuelson (1926-2002) was a Swedish architect noted for designing, among other buildings, a multi-purpose stadium in Malmö, Sweden, home of association football club IFK Malmö, presently of Division 4. The library catalog and borrowing services were fully computerized in 1992. In the summer of 1995, Norrköping City Library became one of the first libraries in Sweden to have its own website. Four years later, it ranked as the most visited library in Sweden with 1.5 million annual visitors. During these years, the library director was Dr. Conny Äng, whose lively philosophy is summarized on the library website:

Open the library! Bet on IT!… Do not immerse yourself in plans! Do not be caught by rules! Dare to try! Say yes! Nothing is impossible.

Part of the reason of the library’s popularity was its extensive hours of service. Also, the innovative policies with IT attracted many readers. A fan of rock music and sports, Dr. Äng inspired his staff to be enthusiastic and innovative, while enjoying their work. Among the recent events drawing readers to visit the library are lectures by Scandinavian authors such as Beate Grimsrud, Lena Andersson, Jan Myrdal, Gertrud Hellbrand, Herman Lindqvist, Arkan Asaad and Gabriella Håkansson. Arkan Asaad, born in Iraqi Kurdistan, moved to Sweden with his family when he was a small child and grew up to be a taekwondo champion in addition to being a writer. University professors also gave presentations at the library in recent years, including Pontus Wassling, Susanna Åkerman, Ebba Witt-Brattström and Owe Wikström. Dr. Wikström is a Swedish theologian, psychotherapist and priest, formerly professor of religious psychology at Uppsala University, Sweden. Dr. Ebba Witt-Brattström is a Swedish scholar in comparative literature who teaches at Södertörn University, outside Stockholm, Sweden. There have also been public lectures on the memory of the Holocaust, psychiatry, computer apps and the internet, local history, and other subjects. There is also an extensive program of educational courses for readers, on subjects including the internet for beginners, free web courses, photography and image processing with smartphone and tablet, online commerce, online health information, and online banking. Languages used by readers, apart from Swedish, include Arabic, Somali, Farsi, Dari, English, Kurmanji, Syriac, and Tigrinya. Exhibits at the library focused on such themes as autism, Asperger syndrome, nature conservation, and other matters. A language café welcomed participants from Syria, Somalia, Greece, Afghanistan, Eritrea, Turkey, Nepal and Azerbaijan.

Thailand and Sweden

Last month, the Nation Building Institute (NBI) at Klongton Nua, Wattana, Wattana, Bangkok, hosted Charlotta Schlyter, Deputy Head of Mission at the Embassy of Sweden in Bangkok, and Vivianne Gillman, Trade Commissioner at Business Sweden, an organisation owned by the Government of Sweden and representatives from the Swedish business community, through the Swedish Foreign Trade Association. The speakers informed attendees about how to encourage IT start-ups, following the declared goals of the NBI. These are to develop leaders in the public and private sectors committed to working for the benefit of all, while adhering to morality, ethics, and benevolence. NBI also encourages students to be open-minded, understand change, look to the future, and innovate without fearing mistakes. Among factors pointed out by the speakers that have boosted IT innovation in Sweden are strong collaboration between government, industry, and research centers, as well as global outlook, freedom of expression on- and offline, and gender equality.

Also last month, BioGaia probiotics, a Swedish company, was launched in Thailand. BioGaia primarily focus on pediatrics, gastroenterology and oral health and its probiotic products are available in around 90 countries. Probiotics are defined as live microorganisms that are believed by some to provide health benefits when consumed.

Thais less interested in investments and health issues may have noticed that in July, the 25-year-old Thai-Swedish model Mareeya Poonlertlarp Ehren was crowned Miss Thailand Universe 2017 at the Siam Paragon Hall. She will represent Thailand at the Miss Universe 2017 pageant in November at Las Vegas, Nevada. Maria Lynn Ehren, also known as Maria Poonlertlarp, was born in Bangkok to a Thai mother of Chinese origin and a Swedish father. Her mother, Chanoksuang Poonlertlarp, was a teacher at the American Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Institute. After training as a model for Bangkok Elle Magazine, she attended the Stockholm Business School of Stockholm University, where she graduated with a degree in international business commerce. More recently, she has been employed by Broadgate Financial, a business development service based at Centralworld, Rama 1 Road, Bangkok. As a practicing Theravadan Buddhist, Mareeya Poonlertlarp Ehren advocates gender equality, proper trash disposal, and caring for the homeless. She told The Nation:

I want to do good for the society at large and the status of Miss Thailand Universe allows me to follow my passion efficiently. This beauty stage is powerful to speak and to do something for the society. The rights of women in Thailand, their education and premature pregnancy of teenagers are three key issues I want to draw people’s attention to.

(All images courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)