Erik Drehn-Knudsen & Ole Woldbye: Public Libraries in Denmark. Copenhagen. 1965.

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118 pages, ill. Cover. Table of contents.


We live in a time when the picture has become a significant part of people's lives. Pictures pour out to us through television and films, through newspapers and magazines. We are fed with pictures from morning till night. Pictures, pictures, pictures! At the same time, spoken words float out to us through loudspeakers, from the television set, from the walls of cinemas, from the radio, from the tape?recorder. And we absorb quantities of printed words through newspapers and magazines, through books, through printed papers by the thousand. Words, words, words!
Pictures and words have the uncomfortable duality of modern technology. Words and pictures can enrich a person. But words and pictures can also cause us deep spiritual harm. The library comes to our aid. Books are art and experience. And books are tools. They can broaden our minds and set them in motion. They can renew our world of experience. Books can help us in the struggle to solve life's problems. They can give us ideas, knowledge and information. And books can mean adventure and inspiration. They can help people practically and spiritually to cope with their lives and their difficulties.
Books in libraries are available to all. Here one can engross oneself in them. Here one can quickly find one's way about. And here one can get every possible assistance when one looks for a way in the diverse world of books: in order to get help in the work of getting to know oneself, in the work of extending one's knowledge of the world, our own little world and the great world beyond us.
In Denmark, central and local governments have ensured that public libraries are available to everyone in every district. From here one borrows books without payment. Here there are open shelves where everyone can find the, books he or she wants. This is a highly important cultural amenity: free loans and open libraries. By its means, harmful effects of the spate of words and flood of pictures can be mitigated and in many cases averted. Most important of all is the freedom: the individual library's free choice of books, the individual citizen's freedom to choose what he wants to read, the freedom for all opinions.
In this book. pictures and words combine to tell about Danish libraries. Here, these cultural institutions open themselves to the interested visitor. The book will go into the travelling case as a remembrance of a visit to a country that has made a particular point of providing libraries for all. Or it will be sent as a greeting to the foreign friend who is interested in cultural work in Denmark. Or it will be used by the Dane who wants information about his own country's libraries.
I send with it a greeting to all who pick up the book; a greeting from a country that has taken a special pride in developing its library system as an important part of the general culture of democracy. It is my hope that this book's pictures and words may give information and inspiration to all who read it. I hope that it will show that Danish libraries are joined in the great universal endeavour of counteracting the tendency of our technological age towards the damaging dissipation of the human mind. Study of books in the quietness of the library reading room or at home gives everybody the possibility of solitude and reflection that is an essential requirement of the positive and fruitful culture of a democracy.

Bodil Koch