Model Programme for Public Libraries

Kultur styrrelsen

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Citizen Service at the Public Library

Today, the Citizen Service function is often located at the public libraries. This entails some special challenges, as well as possibilities, as regards libraries’ interior layout.

Citizen Service at Rødovre Municipality. Photo: Brian Poulsen.

An increasing number of public libraries accommodate Citizen Service, and this opens up for professional possibilities, but also presents special challenges in connection with the interior layout. The Citizen Service functions include services such as passport renewal, issuing of driving licences, help to establish/use the secure login Nem ID, as well as a number of more private matters, such as tax, divorce, child maintenance etc. that require greater discretion.

The library in Vanløse has placed trolleys with plants around the table that is used for the assistance at Citizen Service that requires particular discretion.

Positioning Citizen Service at libraries

When the first Citizen Service centres were set up at public libraries, the idea was that the combination of library and Citizen Service would enable citizens to get more things done during their library visits. For instance, they could search for inspiration in travel literature when they came to have their passports renewed. However, experience has shown that citizens focus on one thing at a time, and that they primarily want a Citizen Service that allows for the appropriate level of discretion. It is therefore essential to secure the right balance in the layout of the Citizen Service area, so that the library’s many offers are visible without exposing the citizen to an obstacle course on his way through the library.

At Copenhagen Main Library, Citizen Service is located in a delimited area on the first floor. This means that users pass through the library and may discover the library’s many offers on their way to Citizen Service

This speaks in favour of Citizen Service being placed in the arrival area or in a clearly marked and delimited area. The area needs to have plenty of space for citizens waiting to be served, and this is where relevant offers from the library can be put on display. The presentation of the library’s materials in the Citizen Service area should be discrete. Citizens come to request assistance from Citizen Service, so materials on display should be of a kind that encourages citizens to take a quick peek before they are served. Posters and graphical means can be used to indicate the possibilities further inside the library.

The library in Sundby has ample space in the waiting area. A trolley contains current book offers, and Citizen Service is conveniently located close to the library's entrance in continuation of the loans and returns area.

Citizen Service and learning

Citizen Service and learning are an obvious match. Libraries are a resource in the Citizen Service function as they help users access public authorities’ digital systems. Libraries typically offer a number of options for citizens to receive practical training in public digital solutions, either individually or in groups. Citizens become more self-reliant and experience the library as an attractive meeting space when they interact with others who have the same needs.

Help in using public authorities’ digital solutions at Sundby Library.

It can be an advantage to create space to help citizens get off to a good start, either at a physical workstation integrated into the Citizen Service area or in a place in the immediate vicinity of the Citizen Service area. One option could be to consider how to make the citizen move further into the library to a network place or another type of digital learning space, thus getting into contact with the library's other functions.

The self-service stands at Copenhagen Main Library make it possible for citizens to get direct help to review digital procedures.

Layout challenges

It is important for citizens to have a good overview of the waiting time at Citizen Service. If the waiting time is long, citizens can spend their time ‘shopping around’ the library. The waiting time can, for instance, be rendered visible via a text message service, where users enter their telephone number when arriving at the Citizen Service and then receive a text message to let them know when their number is up next. Another way of making it clear how long the user has to wait is to set up screens with a high degree of visibility at the library.

Ørestad Library's mobile counter. Photo: Signal Architects

The transition from serviced to open library should be as smooth as possible and shut down as few functions as possible. As an example, the Citizen Service’s PCs can be made available for visitors to use, and the counter can be converted into a workstation, a meeting table or similar, or it can be equipped with wheels so that it can easily be wheeled into a locked storeroom. If the library is both serviced and open, it is an advantage to place the Citizen Service function in an area of the library that can easily be closed off when the serviced library closes.

Make your own contribution via the Facebook group

If you have examples or ideas of how libraries can create efficient interplay between Citizen Service and library, or if you have comments to this article, please feel free to contribute via the Facebook group.

10. May 2016 at. 09:50

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