Help us save the International Library!

The cultural ministry headed by Stockholm’s blue-green coalition have recently decided to cancel the international library’s rental contract. This means they will lose their current location next to the city Library at Odenplan and already close for public use on the 2nd of September. 

Important update 22 Aug 2019
Now more than 8500 signatures! Join the rally against the decision of closure of the International Library in Stockholm!
Where? Odenplan, Stockholm.
When? Saturday, 24th of August, 4-6 PM.

IB is Sweden’s biggest centre for multi-lingual literature and one of the biggest of its kind found in Europe. For twenty years it has been a significant meeting and gathering spot. It has helped newly arrived as well as settled immigrants who may not have Swedish as their first language, researchers, translators as well as a general public interested in language and literature. The shutting down of the library has been camouflaged by the blue-green coalition as a “move” to Kungsholmen’s library by Fridhemsplan.  The new building with far less space, will only be able to house a small percentage of the International Library’s unique collection of 200 000 books in over 100 languages. 

Internationella biblioteket av VisbyStar – Eget arbete, CC BY-SA 3.0,

The whole point with the International Library is that the specialized staff and book collection are all housed in one space to give easy access and personalized guidance for all visitors. With the decision to “move”, this institution will fall apart. Many questions remain regarding the vague plan outlining the library’s move. Some of the books will end up at Kungsholmen’s library, others will be put to rest in the Cityarchives by Liljeholmskajen, and the remaining either sold or thrown out. 

We are strongly against the splitting of this unique collection of books, as well as its separation from the IB’s specialised staff who are competent in over 20 languages.  

The Campaign: “Save the International Library” 

We are strongly against the splitting of this unique collection of books, as well as its separation from the IB’s specialised staff. According to the current and vague plan, the staff will be separated across various libraries in the city without any specificity of where and how. There are no new job openings and the IB last year lost their head of coordination. Staff have pushed for renovations and offered marketing suggestions but not been listened to, showing that the decision to “move” the IB is a result of years of budget cuts and active lack of maintenance. 

Stockholm’s cultural commissioner Jonas Naddebo (Central Party) has spoken of the move as a “positive lift” and a “dedication” to diversity – but one does not spread competence and diversity by dissolving the International Library. In the end its about money and budget cuts – and that is when one chooses to sacrifice those book-borrowers who have the most difficult time accessing literature in their native language, as well as those who may not have the means to organize large scale protests.  

The International Library is also a national library representing a valuable resource for book-enthusiasts all over Sweden. Inter-library loans is an important feature of the IB, illustrating its national importance which would be at risk with the current plan of closing.

The closure should be treated as a scandal and loss for Sweden’s most international city – a city where the population speaks more than a hundred languages, 30 percent have an international background and where thousands of newly arrived make their home. The decision to close the library also echoes the politics of the Swedish Democrats who are trying to limit library selections of various mother tongues. 

This goes hand in hand with article 5 in the library law which states that libraries must pay special attention to national minorities and provide literature for those without Swedish as mother tongue. 

Multi-lingual culture in Stockholm should be promoted – not limited! 

What we demand: 

  • We demand that the International Library as it currently exists, should be allowed to continue. That the closure agreement is scrapped and re-evaluated together with the staff, as well as insuring that the current library collection and staff stay united. 
  • We demand that Stockholm’s cultural ministry instead focus on developing and modernizing the organization at hand. Services that were lost during budget cuts should be reinstated and a head of coordination should be reappointed to manage work on both a communal and national level. 

What can you do to stop the shutting down? 

It is a political decision to close the International Library. By showing our resistance to this decision, we can force the Blue-Green coalition and it’s politicians to re-think and save our library! But in order to do this we need all your voices! 

If you also believe in the International Library, you can do three things to help increase the chance of its survival: 

1. Sign our petition

2. Share our campaign! 

Many still don’t know about the blue-green decision to close the library. Do you know someone who uses the international library? Send them a link and tell them to join the campaign! 

3. Follow our Facebook page

On our Facebook page we update people on the campaign and how its moving forward. By clicking “like” you show the politicians that you are against the closing of the International Library. 

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