Few takes out library books.
More and more Swedes go to the library but few, just one in three of all visitors, actually take out any books. Most people, a recent study shows, go to the library for the atmosphere. Last year was a good year for Malmö stadsbibliotek (Malmö Public Library) with 932,000 visitors – a record. In 2008, 917,000 visited the library. “There have been changes in our ways of using our libraries,” says the director for Malmö stadsbibliotek, Elsebeth Tank. Tank believes it is the increasing number of media that lure people to the library. “There are a number of newspapers from all over the world.” There are also electronic books that one can download to one’s own computer – still mostly books in English. Statistics show that the three most popular novels at Malmö Stadsbibliotek last year were: “Ett annat liv” by Per Olov Enquist, “Till dess din vrede upphör” by Åsa Larsson, and “Sjöjungfrun” by Camilla Läckberg. The three most popular children’s books were: “”Känner du Pippi Långstrump?” by Astrid Lindgren, “Näpp! Sa Alfons Åberg” by Gunilla Bergström, and “Nicke Nyfiken på sjukhus” by Margret and H.A. Rey.

Sweden arrests Auschwitz sign suspect.
Stockholm police say they have arrested a man wanted in connection with the December theft of the infamous entrance sign from the former Auschwitz death camp. Prosecutor Agnetha Hilding Qvarnström said 34-year old Anders Högström was arrested recently in Stockholm on a European arrest warrant. Polish officials have said Högström is suspected of incitement to commit theft of a cultural treasure and had issued a warrant for his arrest. The original iron sign bearing the Nazi slogan "Arbeit Macht Frei" ("Work Shall Set You Free") was stolen early one Friday morning in December. The sign had been hanging at the museum at the site of the former Auschwitz death camp, where more than one million people, mostly Jews but also Poles and Roma, were killed or died of starvation and disease while carrying out forced labor at the camp, which the Nazis built in occupied Poland. Police located the sign a few days after its theft in three pieces on the property of one of five men charged with its theft.

Lasse Hallström ranks higher than “Avatar”
Swedish director Lasse Hallström’s film “Dear John” has grabbed the number one spot in American movie theaters, the first one to rank higher than “Avatar” (directed by James Cameron and a real blockbuster). In spite of lukewarm reviews, viewers flock to see Hallström’s love story, which takes place around the September 11 events and is based on a novel by Nicholas Sparks and stars Channing Tatum and Amanda Seyfried.

Swedish students getting worse.
A new study from Skolverket (The Swedish National Agency for Education) shows that during the past 20 years, students of the 9-year long compulsory school are getting poorer results. Students are lagging behind their international peers especially when it comes to math and other science related subjects, but the factual results are also getting worse. The reasons Swedish students are not as good at school as they used to be, are bigger classes, the fact that the schools no longer are state-owned and the freedom to chose which school you want to go to - this according to researchers at Göteborg University. “One of our conclusions is that the size of the classes and the number of teachers will greatly impact the students’ results, especially the younger students and students from homes where the students get little help with their schoolwork. Another important factor is the competence of the teachers,” says Professor Jan-Eric Gustafsson. It was during the 1990’s that new study plans were introduced to the Swedish schools with limited directions for the teachers on exactly how to present their material. The idea was to give the teachers more leeway to form their lesson plans on their own according to the needs and requirements of their students. Skolverket now verifies that this has led to more teacherless lessons, which in turn has meant the students have learnt less. “This is the most important reason why the average results in math and science related subjects are dropping,” says Jan-Eric Gustafsson.