Citizen services and public libraries: an analysis of a new service in Danish public libraries

Niels Ole Pors (Royal School of Library and Information Science, Copenhagen, Denmark)

New Library World

ISSN: 0307-4803

Publication date: 20 July 2010

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to analyse the introduction of citizen services in the public libraries in Denmark. The paper focuses on how library staff has perceived the introduction and how the library visitors look at it. The paper further elicits information about differences between library visitors using this service and visitors not using it.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper examines the introduction of citizen services in two local libraries. It focuses on staff reactions and perceptions and it also analyses the use and perception of the service in relation to the traditional services. The paper is based on interviews with the involved library staff, citizen service users and administrative staff. The paper is also founded on a survey among library visitors in the two libraries. The survey was conducted as an on‐line and a paper‐based survey.

Findings

The major findings of the paper are that the library staff as a whole welcome the new work tasks because they feel that it is of value for the local community. The findings also indicate that a feared conflict between service tasks and authority tasks did not pose a problem in reality. The library visitors as a whole also welcomed the citizen service in the local libraries and perceived it as a kind of service improvement. Nearly, 25 per cent of the users have used this service in the library and they appreciated it very much. However, the service does not rank high in the visitors' perception of significance of library services. It indicates that the library visitors appreciate new services that are convenient but also that it does not matter that much. The paper also indicates that it is frequent library visitors who use citizen services in library most. There is no indication of the new library users as an effect of the introduction of citizen services in the library.

Research limitations/implications

The limitation is, of course, that the paper is based on a study of only two local branches and it would be scientifically problematic to generalise the results – at least in a statistical sense.

Originality/value

The paper is based on a traditional evaluation study. It is one of the comprehensive assessments of introduction of citizen services in Denmark and some of the findings will be of wider interest for other libraries that intend to take up the cooperative service.

Keywords

Citation

Ole Pors, N. (2010), "Citizen services and public libraries: an analysis of a new service in Danish public libraries", New Library World, Vol. 111 No. 7/8, pp. 263-272. https://doi.org/10.1108/03074801011059902

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Publisher

:

Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2010, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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