Model Programme for Public Libraries

Kultur styrrelsen



Thematic case – Randers: Transformative Library


In 2014-2015, Randers Library has worked on a project where the registration of users' presence triggers changes in the content of communication etc. Experience points to a new path for digital communication, where the content of such communication changes with the users' presence. The communication works independently of whether any staff are present.

The Transformative Library project has its origin in a desire to create a better user experience through digital changes of the library space based on factual knowledge about the users, and through the conversion of real-time user presence into user-focused communication.

This method can ensure better communication, not least during the unmanned opening hours. Inspiration has been sought in the retail and museum businesses, where personalised experiences based on electronic options are rapidly gaining ground.

Example of recommendation

Suitable for self-service libraries

The project's prototype has been running at unmanned libraries in Randers (Randers Library South) and near Silkeborg (Them Library), both of which have self-service hours each week, but the method will also be adaptable to large manned main libraries.

The prototype gathers data when citizens let themselves in, when they use self-service machines, and while they move around specific zones in the library. The data are processed, and the result is used for setting the library in a variety of modes. Modes are understood as themes or subjects that are chosen based on input data. Output can, for instance, be that a specific presentation starts on a big screen.

The project has worked with a limited number of user-orientated modes, eight different ones in Randers, and five in Silkeborg. If for instance the system indicates that families with children are predominant at the library right now, the communication on the big screens will change so that it becomes particularly relevant to this specific group. Maybe music will also start in the children's library, and a children's event may be announced over the loudspeakers.

The position of one of the screens at the library

Registration of user data

The system is scalable as regards both input and output. In connection with the prototype, the input has consisted of data about age and gender from entry control, stock information about returned material from self-service machines, and movements in specific parts of the library captured by motion detection cameras. Each library has been equipped with a control system supplied by Cordura A/S, who have handled calculations and the activation/deactivation of the different modes. Output has been limited to the use of big screens. Each library has had three big screens with appertaining media players.


Every five minutes, the control system carries out a calculation to ascertain which mode the library is currently in. The calculation is based on data from the last 15 minutes; older data are deleted. If there are no data from the last 15 minutes, the library is in a default mode. This is a sort of standard mode, which contains samples from the other modes, general information about opening hours etc.

Data from entry control: Every person who enters counts as one point. This point is allocated to one of the defined modes depending on the age and gender of the person.
Data from self-service machine: Each piece of returned material counts as two points. The stock information about the material determines which mode the points are allocated to. If different materials are returned, points can be allocated to a number of different modes.

Data from surveillance cameras: If there is activity in specific library zones, points are allocated to specific modes. Activity in a zone must last at least 20 seconds before a point is triggered. In theory, 15 points can be triggered if there is uninterrupted activity in a zone for five minutes.

When calculating, the mode that has scored the most points will be activated and remain activated until the next calculation.

Example of modes used at Randers Library South:
Mode 1: Thrillers; Women/men 40+; Have returned thrillers
Mode 3: Films; Women 13-25 / men 13-40; Have returned DVD/Blu-ray
Mode 6: Children 0-6 / institutions; Have returned picture books / children's CDs

Graphics of control system


The project has tested one form of output, but there are other possibilities. One possibility could be to work with more technology, e.g. projectors that can create a certain ambience, changes in the lighting or various technical gadgets. The system could also be used in a larger, manned library, working with more zones. Here, for instance, the staff could be involved by setting the system to summon relevant staff when specific target groups are detected in the library space.

Example of recommendation

25. Sep 2017 at. 12:56

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