DENMARK
Netborgerkampagnen The Online Citizen Campaign

Odense Central Library functioned as coordinator and 30 public libraries as pivotal point for a large ‘online citizen campaign’. The campaign was carried out over a period of three months in the autumn of 2006. The aim of the campaign was to inform the citizens, within the borders of the central library area and the municipalities of the former Fyns Amt, about the many public digital self-service options available on the Internet.

The campaign strived to reach citizens who were not used to seek information, who did not have an Internet access at home and who did not know of, nor were accustomed to, the public services on the Internet. The public libraries were an obvious shortcut to the public web services, and a place where each citizen could receive guidance and advice on how to use these services.

Netborgerkampagnen, or in English – the Online Citizen Campaign – was conducted in cooperation with two large regional players in the field of information: The regional news portal www.fyn.dk, run by the national TV station TV2, and Informationssamfund Fyn. Informationssamfund Fyn is a network of municipal, regional and business and research interest parties, which all promote information technology and the development of information structures on the island of Funen.

Why a library campaign?

The point of departure was to focus on the libraries as one of the central places where municipalities and other public institutions could get in touch with as many citizens as possible. At the same time, the libraries are still perceived as ‘neutral ground’ – a place where one can use the public services safely and at no cost with a relative amount of anonymity, and without being a ‘client’.

The overall perspective was achieved by two actions: Placing the libraries as a part of the collected municipal service with a natural focus on the libraries role as a communicator, and as a part of the national library strategy. A strategy which strives to make the library a central cooperator in the digitisation of the Danish information and knowledge society.

On Funen the Online Citizen Campaign presented a complete selection of the most important public self-service possibilities: E-box, Digital Signature, The Collective PIN Code and the libraries’ web guide and bibliotek.dk. All of these are digital services and forms which for the most part are gathered at the national portal: borger.dk.

Furthermore, a presentation of the most popular self-service possibilities within the field of ‘Job and Education’, ‘Pension and Health’ and ‘Home and Relocation’ was included in the library campaign. It was possible to download demos with instructions for all services directly from the campaign site.

The Online Citizen Campaign in the Funen libraries consisted of a presentation module, placed as an icon on the screens of the public PCs during the campaign period. Simultaneously, a flash animation was available on the front page of all the library homepages. Via the flash animation it was possible for the PC users to activate the animation and receive a presentation of the most popular public self-service options – directly from the Internet. As an extra service, the PC user had access to a guide on how to use the different self-service options.

The library staff was, and still is, ready to guide and assist the citizens in how to use the different options, and if needed, to refer to the different institutions for further information. To enable the staff to fully undertake the task, thorough information and courses were provided prior to the campaign.

Marketing

Marketing was of great importance. The campaign had to be visible in the public sphere in order to reach the citizens who did not use the library on a regular basis. The marketing strategy consisted of posters, postcards, book marks and eye-catching advertisements in buses. Furthermore, the campaign was marketed through flash animations on big screens and on the electronic info points, located at central places in Odense.

Besides the central message about the different digital possibilities, the campaign functioned as an indirect marketing campaign for the libraries. Through the campaign it was possible to place the library in an untraditional and visible context, and to create a different access point to the library and the many competencies the library can offer. It functioned as a counterpart to the notion of the library as merely a ‘lending department’ – a notion which many citizens subscribe to.

The campaign was organized at a local level as a follow-up, within the library area, on the big national campaign: ‘Public services – use them on the web’. The national campaign was presented in Denmark in the autumn of 2005, organized by the national digital task force.

It is important to follow up on a campaign like the Online Citizen Campaign to maintain a strong and continued effect. Presently, the planning of a larger national seminar is taking place – a seminar for all leaders, employees and politicians in the region who are involved in online citizen services in the new large municipalities. These actions take place in order to secure the systematic process of promoting the online services in relation to the citizens, everywhere. A process which is supported by political statements. In the autumn of 2007 Danish libraries are promoting a campaign on the many free e-resources which are available to the public in the libraries.

Kent Skov Andreasen
Chief librarian
Head of Communications and PR
Odense Central Library

E-mail: ksan AT odense.dk

Chief librarian Head of Communications and PR Odense Central Library