Official guidelines for reopening of the Danish libraries

Official guidelines for reopening of the Danish libraries

English translation via Christian Lauerson.

“Wednesday May 13 the Danish Ministry of Culture released the first set of guidelines for soft reopening of the Danish libraries. May 21 those guidelines was modified and this blog post is a translation of the guidelines meant to inspire others who are facing reopening in times to come.

You might also find inspiration in my other blog posts about libraries in the age of corona:

The guidelines should be seen in context of the general situation in Denmark which is, that the country is reopening rapidly these days; libraries, museums, schools, institutions of education and research, bars, restaurants and alot of other institutions are opening up again.

In short the status of the Danish public libraries to this date is the following:
  • They are open to the public
  • You can loan and return materials
  • Books ect. don’t have to go into quarantine after they are returned
  • You can stay at the libraries following the overall guidelines for social distance
  • Library staff can help citizens if following the overall guidelines for social distance
  • Smaller programs and events are possible if following the overall guidelines for social distance
  • Library computers and printers are not available at this time

The below is not an official translation of the guidelines – it is my translation so don’t mind the grammar. I also took the liberty to mix the first and the second set of guidelines a bit to make sense of it all.

Guidelines for reopening Danish libraries

Official source [in Danish]:

The guidelines below is divided into 1) general actions prerequisite for reopening, 2) general actions concerning employees and citizens and 3) specific guidelines as it goes for libraries

Roskilde Library is like the rest of the Danish public libraries reopening with a huge focus on safety for staff and citizens

Prerequisites for progressive reopening the following are general actions that should be taken before and after reopening

  • The gradual and controlled reopening should be handled so that the health authorities’ recommendations and guidance can be followed for the individual and for the institution as a whole.
  • Therefore, everyone should first and foremost observe the basic elements in the prevention of infection spread, which are in the order of priority: a) Isolation of people with symptoms e.g. in their own home or hospital, b) Hygiene with focus on cough labels, hand hygiene and contact points, c) Contact reduction with focus on distance, frequency, duration and barriers.
  • Prior to reopening, each institution should ensure that the framework to comply with all health authorities’ guidelines regarding distance requirements for the individual, hygiene, etc. is in place that the guidelines are visible by postings or posters, and that there is water and soap or sanitizer (70-85% alcohol) available to both staff and the public.
  • Each institution’s management should continuously monitor the gradual reopening.·
  • In addition necessary supporting functions, not least cleaning, shall be present.
  • Library management are encouraged to involve employees in planning the concrete actions. As part of cooperation on safety and health at the workplace, employers must involve employees in the planning of concrete measures with significance. If there is a working environment organization at the institution, this involve.

General guidelines for the organization of work and the protection of employees and users / visitors

  • For employees who are at risk of serious illness with COVID-19, it is recommended that the management, in dialogue with the individual employee, make a concrete and individual assessment based on the guidelines of the National Board of Health and make sure the employee don’t come into work.
  • It is recommended that volunteers who are at risk of serious illness with COVID-19 do not do volunteer work at the institution so far.
  • Each institution should, as far as possible, review its work processes to reduce the time with close contact between staff and the public, and as far as possible, special steps should be taken to completely avoid close contacts.·
  • Special steps should be taken as far as possible to avoid close contacts between employees and the public, e.g. in situations with payments. You can, for example, encourage the purchase of tickets online, etc. and introduce additional security measures in close contacts (eg setting up separation at payment points or citizen offices, etc.).
  • All employees should be informed of and adhere to the National Board of Health’s recommendations on good hygiene and appropriate behavior, including regular and thorough hand washing.
  • Each institution can, where appropriate, reduce the number of employees coming into work·
  • The institution should ensure thorough cleaning of common contact points, at least onces a day and more frequently by many visitors, including with special focus on handles, handrails, light switches, table surfaces, taps, cash registers, credit card terminals and lending and delivery machines, etc.)·
  • Each institution should, as far as possible, form an overview of various contact points, including door handles and pushbuttons, and clearly indicate to the users that these are contact points.·
  • Contact-free solutions should be considered where possible.·
  • Toilets (both public and employee toilets) should be thoroughly cleaned, all surfaces should be washed and contact points disinfected. There should be water and liquid soap available.
  • There should be no shared towels but only disposable towels.·
  • Trash should be emptied daily, and always before they are completely filled.·
  • Cleaning of the individual workstation should be ensured when one employee leaves the workstation and another employee must take over.·
  • The health authorities’ recommendations on distance and rules for the maximum number of people in an area should always be observed in both public and employee areas.·
  • In order to ensure that distance is kept, institutions should, where appropriate, use behavioral regulating devices and practical measures such as space divisions and distance tapes or other distance markings.·
  • The institutions must comply with the current assembly ban. However, it should be noted that the total audience present at an institution held openly in accordance with these guidelines is not in itself considered an assembly. ·
  • Institutions should not carry out activities that encourage the coordination of many people, such as lectures, performances, tours and events.
  • However, smaller programs and event that can be implemented in accordance with both the assembly ban and the health authorities’ distance recommendations can be implemented.··

Dealing with illness and symptoms·

  • Employees should not attend work if they have mild symptoms suggestive of COVID-19. Cleaning of a sick employee’s workstation should be done immediately after identifying the illness. After a course of illness, employees must first return to work 48 hours after symptoms have ceased·
  • Information material should be set up in or near the premises that people who have symptoms of COVID-19 should isolate themselves at home, and about good hygiene and appropriate behavior in the public space.

Specific guidelines for libraries

  • Libraries are open to the public
  • Citizens can loan and return materials
  • Books ect. don’t have to go into quarantine after they are returned
  • You can stay at the libraries following the overall guidelines for social distance
  • Library staff can help citizens if following the overall guidelines for social distance
  • There should be sanitizer (70-85 percent) available in the lending areas. Visitors should be encouraged by signage for their use upon arrival, each time they are switched between the library’s branches and in connection with the operation of the lending and deposit terminal.·
  • Reading rooms and sitting areas should comply with health authorities’ requirements for distance and must comply with notice requirements for how many people that can be in a specific area. However, there is only a requirement of 2 square meters per person in reading rooms and the like.
  • Reading / study spaces should be cleaned between each visitor (however, after a specific assessment of needs), or it should be possible for the visitors to do their own cleaning.·
  • It should be avoided to use libraries’ PC’s, printers and other equipment that can be difficult to clean between users.·
  • The libraries should offer disposable gloves for self-service machines, for example at the stations where books are loaned and delivered.·
  • Library staff should continuously monitor compliance with the guidelines.·
  • The libraries should not have unstaffed opening hours.·
  • Submitted materials should be handled safely by staff. Personnel should carry out frequent hand disinfection or hand washing.·
  • It is believed that no special precautions regarding library materials that users return or that borrowers study briefly to consider home loans and then repay
Danish Ministry of Culture. May 21, 2020.


Hope the above was useful for you in times to come. I’m grateful for the pretty clear guidelines coming from a central point but to my experience the guidelines are not one-size fits all solutions and it takes a lot of effort to find the good local solutions that balance safety and good service. Also to my experience, if you are a library director, one of the most important things on your to-do list reopening libraries are the involvement of staff in finding the right solutions. Your staff often know the best solutions and they are the ones that goes to the front line in a reopening maneuver so the deserve to be involved in every aspect of it.

Stay safe and take care