Model Programme for Public Libraries

Kultur styrrelsen



Digital Spaces

Physical spaces at libraries benefit increasingly from digital features such as communication screens, interactive screens and similar, because they need to support communication – also when libraries are unmanned.

Digital spaces

Digital library spaces can be understood in two ways: First, there are completely digital spaces, such as library websites, online catalogues and portals aimed at specific target groups. These could also be called digital channels or platforms.

Second, there are digital features in the actual physical space at the library, e.g. overview screens or electronic loans/returns. There are also the PCs that are still at the libraries because providing access in itself is sometimes the first and most important step in relation to opening the digital world to the users. Access is generally a significant element to consider. Not only in terms of what the individual library makes available, but also in relation to power and network. It is of no use having good, digital materials if it is too difficult to access them.

Both types of digital space are significant, because they create an obvious place for bringing libraries' digital content into play. Digital communication can be used to render physical materials visible in new ways, for instance by linking them to the digital materials, which may otherwise easily become invisible to the users. Digital communication at libraries is often via screens, but the screens can be utilised in many different ways.

At Randers Library, the project 'Transformative Library' gathers data when users let themselves in, when they use self-service machines, and while they move around specific zones at the library. The screens display targeted inspiration for the users depending on the zone and on the type of users who are present in greatest numbers at the library, e.g. families with children.

Communication wall at Avedøre Library

At Avedøre Library, a communication wall has been set up, which features changing themes in the course of the year. The amalgamation of physical books, videos, digital content and physical objects is eye-catching and facilitates material exhibitions that attract interest in a different way to the physical book exhibition on its own.

The end walls have digital book machines, which can help draw the attention of passers-by to the physical materials.

The communication wall at Avedøre Library.

Virtual communication at Ørestad Library

Ørestad Library is an example of a public library that works consistently on the integration of virtual communication of services. Screens with an overview of functions in the building are located at the entrance, and there are touch screens on the sides of bookcases, which describe the offers of each particular bookcase. There is also a screen with an overview of the entire area's activities and an appertaining presentation of players.

The integration between the virtual and physical library is supported by touch screens on the sides of the bookcases. Photo: Ørestad Library

A large proportion of the communication is image-based. Everywhere across the library, there are chained iPads with uploaded presentations about the library's many options. The interaction between the virtual and the physical space is crucial to the library's interior layout.

The many screens are to communicate the library's services and help the users find what they need. Photo: Natalie Nielsen.

The library consistently stakes on web-based communication, which continually changes on the many different screens in the space. The virtual communication also serves as a means to gaining more from using the library at home, at work or at school, and to supporting communication when the library's staff have gone home. When the library is in self-service mode, the technology needs to support, to the greatest extent possible, the same guidance that is available when staff are present around the library.


Smart returns at Bibliotheek Nieuwegein, the Netherlands

At the library in Nieuwegein the intelligent book return shelf is based on RFID tagging. The shelf gathers the returned title's entire loan history and indicates its physical position in the library to the staff. Simultaneously, the book return shelf links the returned title to the latest borrower and automatically updates the borrower's entire borrowing activity. This enables the library to build and maintain personalised borrower profiles if requested, and to contact borrowers in connection with the arrival of new titles within their particular fields of interest.





Book scanners at Bibliotheek Floriande, the Netherlands

Bibliotheek Floriande offers an interesting integration of the virtual space at the physical library, such as an RFID-based interactive board or 'book scanner', where visitors can pull any title they like across the screen to see background data and reviews submitted by other users.




The Transformative Library in Randers

The Transformative Library in Randers is a good example of a project that works with the registration of users' presence and applies this to creating changes in the communication content. When a borrower lets himself/herself in during the unmanned opening hours, the content on the space's big screens is adapted to the demographic background information about this person. Read more in our case description of the library (link to case).

Example of recommendation at Randers Library.


Finally, there are Makerspaces, which give the users the chance to be creative with new technology. At Ballerup Library, everybody can gain access to a Makerspace with 3D printers, laser cutters, a vinyl cutter and several other things. 







Featuring, among other things, laser cutters, 3D printers, drawing and modelling programs, a vinyl cutter and a wide format printer, Ballerup Makerspace makes technology available to the individual citizen. The project is run by volunteer expert users in collaboration with the library's permanent staff.

If there is no room for this, another option is a 'taster bar' with access to IT equipment and software, which the individual user may not have at home.

Make your own contribution via the Facebook group

If you have examples or good ideas about how the library can create better interplay between the physical and the virtual library, creating new digital offers, or if you have comments to this article, please feel free to contribute via the Facebook group.

05. Jul 2017 at. 12:36


The Central Library in Salt Lake City trains its users in digital connection. See more


Ørestad Library works with consistent integration of virtual communication of all offers.

Kollision's Thomas Fabian Delman has served as advisor about the library's digital and aesthetic profile. Hear him talk about how this took place.


Watch video (In Danish)

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