The effort to induce the public to use the Internet portal Borger.dk (Citizen.dk) has spread to all Danish public libraries with training of staff, joint PR campaigns and activities in relation to the population. All citizens should be able to manage on their own in their communication with the public authorities.
It is obvious to use the library for this purpose, being a neutral place where the citizen does not feel himself to be in a ‘client situation’, and where the staff is very experienced in teaching the use of PC etc. Add to this, the long opening hours that really meet a public need.
It is to be seen as a continuation of the competence development that was introduced when the library act came into force in 2000. The coordinators in the regional libraries organised a network to all libraries so that they have a contact person who is responsible for passing on information about Borger.dk to the staff as well as organising competence development etc. to provide the library with the best tools for the instruction of the public. The network consisting of 98 contact persons, is a further manifestation of an age-long tradition of cooperation culture in the library service.
A cooperation which started in four regions has by and by developed into a national effort where the coordinators have the entire country as their field of activity.
The approach in relation to the contact persons is agreed with the Danish Agency for Library and Media. The four coordinators hold regional meetings as well as arrange an annual workshop in collaboration with Borger.dk about new initiatives etc.
The work is in the main colleague-tocolleague orientated, but the coordinators are also involved in the direct marketing initiative toward the public.
Together with Borger.dk the coordinators arrange an annual campaign week in libraries and citizen service centres. They prepare press material at three levels: a general press release for national newspapers and magazines, a press release which can be adapted locally and a web text for the library’s homepage.
Posters and a large floor sticker are used for marking an area where a PC opens to Borger.dk. Finally various merchandise is offered such as saddle covers, boiled sweets and bags.
The collaboration with Borger.dk has also lead to the coordinators participating in a workshop to prepare an action plan for the marketing of digital solutions. The spreading of Citizen.dk is not only a task for the libraries. In the wake of the municipal reform in 2007 the citizen service centres emerged, and a great effort is being made to coordinate the two comparable activities. Several coordinators and contact persons have taken part in networking meetings specially directed at citizen service staff and their key persons, the digital pilots.
In the spirit of cooperation the libraries have arranged a large number of courses with participation of citizen service employees, and the librarians move outside the library to offer instruction in the use of the Internet. The coordinators have established www.kompetencenet.nuwhere instructors in Borger.dk can find inspiration, just as they can use Borger.dk’s tool box which also contains e-learning modules.
Borger.dk is a welcome opportunity to cut a profile within one of the library’s core areas, namely information to the public about society. The new element is that we provide the citizens with the chance to be self-reliant.
The project, which begins and ends with the citizen, is a good example of a role for the library to assume successfully: The library as mediator of digital information.
Regional Library Consultant
hansmi AT roskildebib.dk
Translated by Vibeke Cranfield