IAML Toolbox Best Practices: Danish Toolbox


In Denmark an intranet site has been constructed which aims at becoming the primary tool in all aspects of music services of a public library.

The idea of creating a common music site for all public libraries in Denmark started some years ago, after a government Act on Library Services was passed - placing recorded music and electronic information resources (including Internet) on an equal footing with books and traditional library materials . However, most librarians still deal with books and printed materials and have only limited knowledge of music, and even less knowledge of how to handle the many facets and varied presentations of music.

How should librarians suddenly be able to deal with music professionally?
And how should the libraries brand the new services to the public?


To present the variety of music services to the public www.musikbibliotek.dk , the Danish Public Web Music Library was created.
In a nationwide collaboration among music librarians daily news and feature articles are written or extracted from external sources. The topics are focused on the less commercial aspects of the Danish and international music scene, including recommendations of cd's, books etc. all available in public libraries. Furthermore, Musikbibliotek.dk carries out tests in cooperation with the music industry focused on licensing and distributing legal music files directly to the end user. Since 2004 these legal music files are available via https://www.bibliotekernesnetmusik.dk

The Libraries’ Music Toolbox

Behind the public site , a specific intranet domaine has been developed for librarians on www.musiktoolbox.dk , a toolbox for music librarianship.
The aim was to make a virtual reference book for librarians who had to learn how to deal with music as a result of the government library act.
Under the former library act it was not compulsory to offer music. However, some libraries developed large music departments and employed librarians with specialized skills.
The first Danish public music library opened in 1963! and some of the old music pioneers are still active and contribute much of their experience.
Why not share this knowledge and make it accessible for many librarians? These considerations lead to the idea of creating a Music librarians’ Toolbox . Since January 2003 the Danish Toolbox for music librarianship exists as a mixture of a virtual reference book and a dynamic network focused on the development of skills, exchange of experiences and knowledge management.

Entering the Music librarians’ Toolbox you find articles on topics like:
Selecting & handling materials, reference guide , networking , handling all practical details concerning concerts, exhibitions and the like – mailing lists and a FAQ-archive.
In every article the author is indicated with a link to facilitate contact and wherever relevant the articles refer to colleagues that have specific knowledge on a subject . Furthermore all articles have a feedback facility, which give colleagues a chance to comment and make additions to the articles. Furthermore it is possible to subscribe to further comments on the article.

Apart from written articles, the Music librarians’ Toolbox also attempts to gather materials that have been produced by various public libraries. Whenever a colleague e.g. makes a catalogue, a literature list or a resource guide, this material can be included in the Music librarians’ Toolbox and thus be accessible for other librarians.

The FAQ archive has been constructed in the same way. A filing system has been established so that any librarian can enter any type of relevant information. Music for special occasions e.g., or questions that have been difficult or time consuming to solve, can now be filed in the archive, this gives everyone the opportunity to benefit from the work already done.
Further information can be added to each entry in the archive.

All information is filed in a database with advanced search-facilities and the search-results can be sorted in various ways according to articles, comments, mailing lists etc.

How did we do it?

The government Act on Library Services gave rise to the idea of both Musikbibliotek.dk and the Music librarians’ Toolbox .
However, the idea could never have been developed without the input of visionary colleagues and a modern library director who involved themselves fully. The idea was realized as quickly as possible.
After having found a project manager, an introductory meeting was held followed by an invitation to join the working group.
Twelve experienced music librarians from all over the country have participated and worked very hard on establishing the Music librarians’ Toolbox.
Further meetings were held and whithin 4 months the structure and contents were laid down and the technical parts were designed by the web company: Mice and Men (now: Twins) in collaboration with technicians from Gentofte County library .

How was the project funded?

Funding is always a serious issue and on initiation of the project there were no funds available. Right from start the Music librarians’ Toolbox was designed as a nationwide project. The working group consisting of 12 librarians all committed themselves for 5 hours pr. week, which was accepted (and paid for) by their libraries. The time was used for common meetings and for writing articles to ensure a certain professional level. In addition to the hours commited by the participating libraries, funding was found within Gentofte County Library to finance the technical part . It has been a joint effort carried by the mutual understanding of the importance of creating a Music librarians’ Toolbox.

Future plans & developments

The professional understanding of the importance of virtual internet service is ever growing. The library consists of the physical library as well as the virtual library. The virtual library has primarily been focused on mediating the traditional library on a virtual basis, but the virtual library could also emphasize on professional skills and developing all the necessary tools via an intranet. During the first Toolbox year the project has proven its importance and the Danish National Library Authority (www.bs.dk) has granted money for further developments within the next 3 years.
Simultaneously the Music librarians’ Toolbox has generated ideas with regards the construction of a general toolbox for all aspects of library work. A working group has been established and further developments of the Music librarians’ Toolbox will be coordinated with the general toolbox.
It is a successful development proving how excellent the original toolbox idea was.

The Ugly Duckling

In the country of Hans Christian Andersen the fairy tale of the Ugly Duckling is well-known and everyone knows how much the Ugly Duckling suffered until the day he proved to be a swan and was praised for its beauty.
As a metaphor, music in the public library has almost been an Ugly Duckling, but time has worked and “he could now appreciate his good fortune and all the loveliness that greeted him”….
Music in the public library has indeed become an issue and the skills of the music librarians are certainly in demand.

Project manager : Marianne Horn (email )
Gentofte County Library, Denmark


The libraries' Music Toolbox
A nationwide project for Danish public libraries, initiated by Gentofte County Library
Web company: http://www.twins-consulting.dk

November 2006
This is a revised version of the paper sent (2003) to Continuo - Australia/New Zealand.
The Danish Music Toolbox was presented at the IAML conference in Tallinn (2003). Inspired by The Music Librarians’ Toolbox in Denmark IAML is working on the idea of an international toolbox for public music libraries


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