Model Programme for Public Libraries

Kultur styrrelsen



Different Users – Different Needs

The library is an inspiration space, a learning space, a performative space and a setting for sociality in different hybrid formats. Across these different intentions, the library also has to provide an attractive setting where people will enjoy staying. More than anything, it is a question of signalling that as a library you want your visitors to stay a little longer. Be that soloists, small work groups or a larger audience. Offering access to chairs and tables that match the different users' needs and the activities that take place. Establishing spaces and layouts among the material collections that invite people to spend some time there. Creating places to stay with surplus energy, light and atmosphere. Freshly made coffee or a cafe. It is about creating homeliness with robustness. Space for peace and quiet for concentration withdrawn from the community. It is about creating possibilities for being a passive or active part of a community that fills the library's spaces and in the encounters between its users.

In this connection, it may be a good idea to segment the library's users according to behaviour and needs. For inspiration, a number of different users with different needs, behaviour and expectations are described below in an ultra brief way for inspiration:


The soloist: Typically spends quite a while at the library, which should provide access to a material collection with breadth and depth as well as peace and comfort. Access to soft armchairs in a quiet zone for the good reading or listening experience. Preferably access to snacks at a cafe, but peace and comfort are more important than being close to this facility.


The student: Chooses the library as an alternative to the students' residence room. Access to chair and table geared towards working on a PC. Length of stay varies. Requirements about position in relation to auditive and visual peace vary. Many will seek positions close to the common square or to a cafe. Others prefer more peace and quiet and maybe close access to materials and references within their subject area. Preferably access to connected PCs. The youngest students may also require access to help and guidance from a librarian.


The reading group: Chooses the library as a setting for reading group meetings. Access to larger tables with 4-6 chairs with the possibility of adaptation. Needs to be able to speak together in low voices. Requirements about position in relation to auditive and visual peace vary. Many small groups will prefer the edges of a common square or a position close to a cafe. Others prefer more peace and quiet and maybe close access to materials and references within their subject area.


The larger group: Chooses the library as a setting for planned activities that gather more than 4-5 participants. Access to a shielded room where the group can close the door and speak with each other without disturbing the library's other users. They may need a conference table, PCs and a projector, and maybe a smartboard. Another requirement may be a kitchenette or a coffee vending machine.


Children as a special user group: Children are a user group that poses special demands on the library's spaces and settings. You can read more about how the library can match this under the design challenge ‘The children's zone’.


Adapt communication and marketing

Naturally, the libraries' task when it comes to handling large user differentiation is not limited to creating settings and facilities that can match the different users' wishes, needs and behaviour. The task is equally to ensure that the library's communication strategy and marketing are adapted to the different users, which means that it is essential to keep updated about their different needs. And more than anything, of course, it is a question about what content, activities and services to offer to the different user groups.

Make your own contribution via the Facebook group

If you have examples or ideas about how libraries can handle the many different user groups' wishes, needs and behaviour, or if you have comments to this design challenge, please feel free to comment via the Facebook group.

09. Feb 2015 at. 17:14

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