A Library Can Bring Out The Best In People!

Honesty wins the day at popular cultural hub in Sweden.

Special Collections: INSPIRE THE GOOD
Young man reading a book at a modern library.

(Dusan Petkovic / Shutterstock.com)

Here’s a heartwarming tale showing that bookworms may just be stellar community icons to look up to!  On a Saturday in November, Annacarin Elf, the head of operations at Gothenburg City Library, just happened to walk by her workplace. Noticing that the door was open, she entered the library, and was surprised to see that people were using it like on a regular day. reported The Local. Why?

Well it was scheduled to be closed for the November 4 All Saints’ Day holiday, dedicated to remembering the dearly departed and for spending time with family. “The people in the library behaved as usual. Many were sitting reading newspapers, some families were in the children’s section and others were searching for books on the computer,”  she told public radio P4 Goteborg, as reported in The Local.

It seemed that Elf’s colleagues had simply forgotten to lock the door, and because this popular library is usually open on Saturdays, patrons just assumed they could walk in, as ZME SCIENCE details. Elf called to check with her staff team, before announcing that the library was about to close. The visitors calmly shut their books and left, some taking their books with them.

It later transpired that 446 locals visited the city library, borrowing a total of 246 books during the day. What’s remarkable is that clients checked out their books via the library’s electronic self-service system, and that to date, all the books have been returned!

This demonstration of community spirit went viral
In a world brimming with headlines relating to discord and chaos, many Swedes and folks further afield have reacted positively to this uplifting display of local respect for the library and its resources, a hub that can be seen as a beacon of the community.

The library itself was quick to show its support in an appreciative post with “Thank you for Saturday, dear Gothenburg.”

It was also not lost on commenters that this all happened on All Saints’ Day, a day of remembrance and reverence. 

As The Local, Sweden details, this story really captivated Swedes, going viral in the country, so moved were they by this community’s respect for the books and equipment of what is a treasured community resource.

The Mayor EU has even suggested that this unusual Saturday serves as an unwitting experiment of the possibility of operating a totally automated library sans staff.

While Elf did express surprise that the library seemed emptier than usual, due to the lack of staff, she heaped praise on the care shown by locals: “Nothing was destroyed. It's amazing that Gothenburgers enter an empty library and treat it so lovingly,” she shared with The Local, Sweden.

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