Most people failed to notice that there was no staff on hand at the library, Source:

What happened when staff forgot to lock Gothenburg Library on a day-off?

What happened when staff forgot to lock Gothenburg Library on a day-off?

This story of civility has served as an illustration of the inspiring way a society can be

Sweden marked its All Saints’ Day on Saturday, 4 November, and as usual, some people went to pay their respects to deceased relatives and friends in the cemeteries. However, in the days following the holiday, it was a library, rather than a graveyard, which made the news rounds in the Nordic country.

Staff working at the Gothenburg public library forgot to lock the facility when leaving it the day before so it ended up staying unwittingly open during the public holiday. However, nothing unusual happened, no books or equipment were stolen or broken during the day. And that’s what made the news – the civility of librarygoers.

Unwitting staff-less library experiment

Usually, libraries are open on Saturdays, which is why people headed to the vicinity and perhaps forgetting that it was a public holiday didn’t think it strange to find it open. The result was that some 400 people visited the facility throughout the day and 245 books were checked out through the automatic counter system.

The library's head of operations, Anna Carin Elf, told public radio broadcaster P4 Göteborg that people were behaving as normal when she was alerted to the mistake and arrived to check what was happening.

She was surprised, but also delighted, to find people reading newspapers, others browsing on the computer catalogues and families in the children’s area. And apparently, only a few of them had noticed that the library seemed emptier than usual.

In a way, the entire day ended up being an unwitting experiment for the possibility of operating an entirely automated library without staff. That’s not to say that library employees are unnecessary – libraries these days have evolved to offer more than books. They also organize events and workshops and, in a sense, serve as cultural community centres.



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