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Study Abroad Library Information: EUROPE: DE-DK-SE


1. Visiting the University of Heidelberg Library.  The University of Heidelberg is the oldest university in Germany, established in 1386, and has an exchange partnership with the CSU system.  As with other European universities, it has scattered departmental/faculty libraries all over its campus, throughout Heidelberg: 38 libraries in all.  The Main Library was built in 1901, in an ornamental, red sandstone brick, Victorian style.  The 3 photos bellow (exterior, front entrance, circular stairwell) show this.

Heidelberg University Library exterior    John at entrance of Heidelberg University Library    Circular Stairwell of Heidelberg University Library

Left: Just as many U.S. libraries have card catalogs on display for historic decoration, the library has its bound volumes of catalog slips on the wall bookcases.   Middle: At the Reference Desk, several cataloging/classification systems display on the online catalog (since different libraries' systems evolved differently over the centuries).  The main one is the RVK system, developed in Germany in the 1960s, now used by many academic libraries throughout the country.  It is a letter-first system, similar to LC. Right: with Dr. Martin Nissen, the Library's Public Relations & Communication Director.

John at the Reference Desk of Heidelberg University and with its PR director

2. Visiting the Library of SRH University Heidelberg.  SRH University Heidelberg is a private university, part of the non-profit SRH university network of 10 universities across Germany (newer universities: from the 1960s to today), focusing on practical/professional trades and disciplines. CSUF has an exchange partnership with SRH University Heidelberg.  Top: The university has a single main Library, and it is directly connected to the student dormitories, via a bridge, offering 24-hour access to library!  Bottom left: the main reading room.  Bottom right: meeting with Bettina Pauley, Head of International Relations.

Exterior of SRH Heidelberg University Library









Interior of SRH Heidelberg University Library   John with International Office Director, SRH Heidelberg University


1. Visiting the Stuttgart Public Library.  Since the city of Stuttgart is near CSUF's two partner universities, I stopped there to visit the Stuttgart Public Library, famous for its design.  The outside is very minimalist: just a cube-type building.  But the inside has a photo-famous design of bright white floors, stairs, walls, and book shelves.  

John outside the Stuttgart Public Library   Interior of the Stuttgart Public Library  

2. Visiting Aalen University Library.  About an hour train-ride east of Stuttgart is Aalen University, another exchange partner with CSUF.  Like SRH University Heidelberg, it is a newer university (established in the 1960s) and focuses on applied sciences (engineering, sciences, business).  And it also has a single Main LibraryLeft: the Library exterior, like the ECS building at CSUF, was designed by an engineering faculty member using a cubist architectural style.  Right: the Reference Desk is two round "pods"; an innovative design (less barrier, more personable), but chairs are missing.

John outside Aalen University Library   Reference Desk inside Aalen University Library

Left: Three cool innovations in their library: (1) video signboards in the library promoting "Ask a Librarian". (2) foam earplugs for sale in a gumball type dispenser (€1; about $1.10). (3)a red-yellow-green "traffic light" noise sensor in the quiet zone.  If anyone makes noise (like talking on their phone) it will go to yellow...and then if they make louder noise, it will go to red and issue a recorded warning to be quiet.  (Ha ha, an "A.I. Shushing Librarian!").  Right: meeting with Martina Kübler, Vice-Director of the International Relations Office.

Innovative devices in the Aalen University Library        John with International Office Vice-Director, Aalen University


1. Visiting the University of Hamburg Library.  The University of Hamburg Library is a combination library: an academic library for the university and the State Library for the State of Hamburg. Left & Right: the exterior of the library and the main entrance (very bunker-like architecture).   

Exterior of Hamburg University Library     John at the entrance of the Hamburg University Library

Left: a very stylish Main Reference Desk.  Middle: a banner promoting group study areas of the library.  Right: consulting with a Librarian at the entrance Information Desk (similar to the CSUF Library's south-side student-run Information Desk).

Hamburg University Reference Desk  Hamburg University Library Group Study banner  John with Reference Librarian at Hamburg University Library

2. Visiting the Hamburg Central Public Library.  Hamburg has a Central Public Library, 32 branch public libraries, and 2 mobile (bus) public libraries.  The Central Public Library is in a huge red-brick building (former Post Office, built in 1906, changed to the library in 2004).  Left: the library exterior.  Right: inside, the automated book return conveyer belts. 

Exterior of the Hamburg Central Public Library         Automated book return conveyer belt in the Hamburg Central Public Library

Left: the newly designed lobby reading area, when you first walk in.  Right: Book shelves using the KAB (Klassifikation fur Aligemeinbibliotheken) classification, a system developed for German public libraries in the 1960s. On this shelf, the Xb is gardening books.

Interior of Hamburg Central Public Library     Shelf sign of books in Hamburg Central Public Library


1. Visiting the University of Copenhagen Library.  Denmark's top university is the University of Copenhagen.  Like other European universities, it has many scattered libraries, all departmental/subject -based.  Due to limited time I could not visit all of them, so I visited one: the Social Sciences Library.  It is housed in a 19th-Century red brick building, originally built as the Horticulture building adjacent to a beautiful botanical park.  

Exterior of the University of Copenhagen Social Sciences Library  John in front of sign of University of Copenhagen Social Sciences Library

Left: a classic-style lecture room (like you would see in the 1800s) inside the library, now used for Library Instruction sessions.  Middle: a study area on the top floor, near the slanted roof.  Right: meeting with Anders Thal Fisker, Director of the Social Sciences Library.

lecture hall inside University of Copenhagen Library    upper floor study area of University of Copenhagen Library    John with director of University of Copenhagen Social Sciences Library   

2. Visiting the Denmark Technical University Library.  A short train ride north of Copenhagen is DTU, specializing in technology (engineering, computer science, IT, etc.)  It only has a single library, like CSUF, but when you walk inside, there is a bit of a shock: almost no books!  Over the years they have weeded their collection and focused on e-books/resources instead.  Books are only in the basement now.  So what is in the rest of the library?  Study and group collaboration space.  Students I interviewed joked "yeah, we have a library with no books."  Left: at the library entrance.  Middle: the interior, with open study space. Right: an old photo, of the same interior, from the 1980s: card catalogs & book shelves!

John in front of DTU Library, Denmark     Comparison photo of DTU Library interior today vs 1980s

Below: the group study emphasis is everywhere: group study huts, group study cubicles, group study drafting tables.

photos of group study areas in DTU Library, Denmark








3. Visiting an Absalon University Library.  Absalon University is a network of several universities under the Absalon banner.  It is a newer university network (est. 2007), focusing on practical/professional degrees.  CSUF has a partnership with Absalon, and I visited the library of their Roskilde campus, about an hour west of Copenhagen.  The campus is modern but small (a single building complex, like CSUF's previous Irvine Center). The library is also small: a single room library, with 2 librarians.  Left: the entrance, with the Ref Desk in front.  Right: the 1-room interior (the wheels on the shelves are pretty cool).

Front entrance of Absalon University Library     Interior of Absalon University's 1-room library

Left: outside the library are two group study silos (insert shows the interior).  Right: meeting with the two librarians (on the ends) and next to me, in the maroon sweater, is Hélène Kelly, from Absalon's International Office...we discussed our two university's exchange partnership.

Group study silo, outside the Absalon University Library     John with Librarians of Absalon University


1. Visiting the Copenhagen Main Library (public library).  The Main Library of the Copenhagen City Library system (20 libraries) is a hidden surprise.  The exterior (Left) is an old, brick building on a narrow street, like what you would see in the 1800s.  But once inside (Right), it has been completely renovated to a modern-design, like a sleek shopping mall: bright lights, escalators, huge atrium, etc.

Exterior of Copenhagen City Main public library  John in the interior of the Copenhagen City Main Public Library

2. Visiting a suburban branch public library.  In addition to the Main Library, I also wanted to see a sample suburban library, outside of Copenhagen (the equivalent of seeing an L.A. county library, outside of L.A. city).  I visited the Vangede Library in the Gentofte suburb area north of Copenhagen. This particular library has a very innovative policy: users can still enter even when the library is unstaffed, like after normal staff hours.  Users use their library card to scan in, and self-service equipment (self-checkout) handles borrowing. The scanning-in control, and security cameras, has been effective in preventing crime.

John outside a suburban public library outside Copenhagen     Interior of Copenhagen suburb library

3. Visiting Denmark's National Library. Denmark's National Library (or Royal Library) is called the "Black Diamond" because of a modern, black granite addition built onto the old 19th-Century brick building in 1999.  The addition is more than just the library; it is a deluxe civic center, with a 600-seat auditorium for theater and concerts, exhibition spaces, a café, a gift shop, a garden, and more, all overlooking the waterfront harbor of Copenhagen.  Left: the new, black granite waterfront side.  Right: the old, 19th-century back side.

Exterior of the Danish National Library, black granite side     exterior of the Danish National Library, back side

Left: the modern interior of the Black Diamond side (different floors are different book collections and reading areas).  Middle: the classical reading room, in the old, back side of the Library.  Right: standing at the old library entrance, with ornamental card catalogs.

Interior of new Danish National Library   interior of the old half of the Danish National Library   John at the entrance of the old half of the Danish National Library


1. Visiting the University of Stockholm Library.  The University of Stockholm is one of the top universities in Sweden.  It has many libraries, and its Main Library, which I visited, is very impressive. But it has some shocking differences from most other academic libraries. For example: (1) In 2010 they abandoned subject classifying books on their shelves and now just shelve new books as they buy them (accession numbers only). (2) They also ended subject-specialization of Librarians; Librarians just focus on functional duties only (Reference, Instruction, Cataloging, etc.) (3) Most shocking of all, the Library charges departments for a Librarian to provide an instruction session to a class!  (Hmm... how much would the Pollak Library earn charging for its 800+ sessions?)  Left: at the entrance of the Library.  Right: the modern interior; the natural lighting is nice!

John at the entrance of the University of Stockholm Main Library     Interior of the University of Stockholm Library

Left: the bookshelves with post-2010 books in accession order only.  Right: consulting with two wonderful University of Stockholm Librarians, Annika Zachrisson and Camilla Jansson, at the Reference Desk.

Book shelves in the University of Stockholm Library    John with librarians at the University of Stockholm Library

2. Visiting the Stockholm Public Library (Central Library).  The city of Stockholm has a public library network of 40+ libraries around the city, but its Central library is famous for its iconic look (built in 1928, in red brick, with a rotunda on top).  Left: outside the library.  Right: the library's famous interior lobby, showing its grandiose 1920s design.

John outside the Stockholm Public Library  Interior of the Stockholm Public Library  


Visiting Uppsala University Library.  An hour north of Stockholm is Uppsala University, another prestigious university in Sweden, and the oldest, founded in 1477.  It has 11 libraries, but its biggest (main) is the famous "Carolina Rediviva" building, constructed in 1841. Left: outside the spacious building.  Right: although the outside of the building is old, the interior has been modernized with contemporary art, furniture, technology, etc.

John outside the main library of Uppsala University Interior of Uppsala University Main Library

I was part of a European Librarians tour group to receive an exclusive tour of the Library's Archives, with documents dating back to the 15th-Century.  Very historic!  Left: The Reading Room lobby of the Archives, and in the insert, a book I randomly pulled from a shelf, dated 1750.  Right: in the Archives, holding the business card of Louis Pasteur, signed and dated (1884) on the back.  

Archive Reading Room of Uppsala University Library John holding a business card of Louis Pasteur, part of the Archives


1. Visiting the Gothenburg University Library.   Gothenburg is the second biggest city of Sweden, after Stockholm, and home to Gothenburg University.  It has seven libraries throughout the campus, each focused on different departments/disciplines.  I visited the largest, the Humanities Library Left: at the Library's entrance.  Right: Inside the main reading room.

John in front of Gothenburg University Humanities Library   Inside the Gothenburg University Humanities Library Reading Room

Left: The automated sorting book return: when books are scanned in upon return, the conveyer belt automatically knows which bin to drop the book in, designated for different sections of the library.  Middle: the Library is in the process of retroactively entering old, pre-1957 material into the online catalog, but until then, the "good 'ole card catalog" does the job.  Right: In a group study section of the library, each table has a "Cone of Silence" (all you TV nostalgia folks are laughing with me!)  

Automated Book Return system at Gothenburg University Humanities Library  John using a card catalog in the Gothenburg University Humanities Library  Library Group Study area, with "Cone of Silence" covers over tables

2. Visiting the Gothenburg Public Library.  Gothenburg's public library network is impressive: a modern, Central Library and 30 branches throughout the city. The Central Library was built in 1967 but the interior is completely modernized with impressive lighting, open spaces, furniture, children/teen/leisure spaces, and more. Left: the exterior.  Middle: the spacious interior.  Right: finding my way with their floor directory.

John outside the Gothenburg Public Library  Interior of the Gothenburg Public Library  John at directory sign of Gothenburg Public Library

Left: the events amphitheater area.  Right: the automated conveyer belt sorting area that scans and sorts books to book trucks for each floor

Amphitheater area of the Gothenburg Public Library     Automated sorting area of the Gothenburg Public Library


1. Visiting the Lund University Library.   Lund University is one of the top universities in Sweden, yet is located in a small town (Lund) far away from Stockholm. It was established in 1666 and has a beautiful campus with historic buildings.  Consistent with the European tradition of multiple libraries by department/discipline, there are 25 libraries of the university, scattered across the campus.  The Main Library is a stunning classical building. Left: me outside the library (this month was still too cold for the building's ivy, but in the summer it looks like this).  Right: inside the front doors (a brick lobby).

John outside the Lund University Main Library    John inside the brick lobby of the Library

Left: Inside the traditional reading room, with paintings of the Library directors back to the 1600s.  Right: holding a map of the color-coded sections of the library, and in the insert, a sign of the call numbers (their own letter-number system).

Interior of the Library's classic reading room    John holding a directory sign of the library

2. Visiting the Lund Public Library.  The city of Lund has a very nice public library.  It consists of a large, high-ceiling, main-room reading area, and adjacent sections (children's, cafe, etc.)  Below: the exterior and interior

John outside the Lund Public Library   Interior of Lund Public Library


1. Visiting the Malmö University Library.  Malmö University is a newer university, created in 2018 (from a college, established in 1998) to meet the higher education needs in Malmö, Sweden's third largest city.  A large, single campus in central Malmö was not possible, so the campus is spread around the city in different buildings and centers.  I visited the Main Library, housed in a huge office-like building complex.  Left: at the library's entrance on the 5th floor.  Right: the Library uses Dewey for its classification, and I enjoyed seeing a big wall chart of DDC in Swedish.

John at the entrance of the Malmo University Library          John next to a wall chart of the Dewey Decimal Classification

Left: being in a large office tower, the library makes use of natural lighting for study areas and spaced-apart shelving.  Right: colorful modern furniture

windowed seating area in the Malmo University Library    colorful furniture in the Malmo University Library

2. Visiting the Malmö Public Library.  The City of Malmö has a good public library network: an impressive main library and 12 branches throughout the city.  One half of the Main Library is an old, traditional, red-brick building from 1901.  The other half is a modern new granite & glass addition built in 1997.  Left: outside both halves of the library.  Right: at the entrance (the middle connection).

exterior of Malmo Public Main Library  John at the entrance of the Malmo Main Public Library    

Left: the spacious, natural-lighting interior of the new half.  Right: although the old half of the library retains its classic exterior, the inside was given a modern renovation in 1999.  The center was hollowed out to provide more open space and a glass skylight was installed to give more natural lighting.

Interior of the Malmo Main Public Library (new half)     Interior of the Malmo Main Public Library (old half)