Helsinki central library as a gateway to the city


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Helsinki central library as a gateway to the city

  1. 1. Helsinki Central Library as a Gateway to the City For years, many tourists have required a new type of travel expe- rience, one in which they are more physically and emotionally in- volved in the destination, rather than just being entertained. How can we create a better tourist experience that could turn out to be a meaningful life experience? How do we make tourists experienceSeYoung Kim,Service Designer, Kuudes genuine local culture beyond a staged tourism experience? ThisKerros, Helsinki, Finland.SeYoung Kim recently article introduces a new service proposal for authentic tourist ex-obtained her MA inIndustrial and Strategic perience, emphasising the role of service design as a strategic toolDesign from AaltoUniversity School of Art both in tourist engagement and in creative tourism development,and Design. For the lastthree years SeYoung has in relation to libraries. This project was carried out at the conceptbeen involved for variousmultidisciplinary projects stage in collaboration with Helsinki City Library and is an MAon design for services andstrategies, and she has prior thesis project for the Aalto University School of Art and Design.experience in graphic andweb design for seven years. In recent years, the needs for authenticity tourists as a valuable destination where in the tourist experience has emerged due they can find the opportunity to discover a to the commoditisation of local culture by vivid part of the local culture2. emulating the successful place-making Helsinki City Library has been strategies of cities1. Although, depending broadening its responsibility by plan- on what tourists encounter, the meaning of ning the New Helsinki Central Library, ‘authenticity’ could be diverse, the authen- based on a long and proud tradition tic experience can frequently be achieved in Finnish society. This project aimedSatu Miettinen, through local reality with genuine contact. to develop the new service conceptPhD, Professor of Applied This is why many tourists seek the oppor- offering from the library that wouldArt and DesignUniversity of Lapland tunities for participative experience to help support tourists in discovering a wayFaculty of Art and Design immerse themselves in the destination. of understanding their own authentic However, public libraries, where all local experience of Finland, while, at the same knowledge and characteristics is gathered time, making a positive contribution and are created, are rarely considered by to the library and local community.54 touchpoint
  2. 2. LE V E L2 EL 3 LE V part of th eloc al Open all cu sto ltu for all visit ral progr ry ds ors in a nee rc e s k it s clud mmes t o s re s o u ing & tou act ed u ris i r io s ts vitie i lo v a r r i s t s c l co u l o p a l ta ffer e tou u s r a g i n i n te fo s t e r c En th omm te in o m O or uni r in th e th e ir e s t s de mu fr y cat m u n it LE V 1 f ve t u ion g o to u r i o w n s co m EL e g e nc f in LE V EL 4 ha pu en te r le d el o c a t wit ing bl ge o w ov ic s l kn h n r sts t ha sh r a es and or y rin edg s ts a n d r e l i a e to u r i t g lo c als en wl ble l o nt lo c a l k n o h P r ov i d e t s e rv e ctraditional, modern, broad,stable, progressivenarrow, collectiveindividual library service engagement platform for community level 4: expanded service stages for tourist bring people together as a cultural hub level 3: foster communication and exchange cultural diversity in the community level 2: become multi-use destination that individual development advocates level 1: being conduits of wealthy knowledgeable resourcesFigure1: Four stages of library serviceplatform expand the service capability ina broad context from only local residentsto international visitors for improving theirexperience in the new tourism service. touchpoint 55
  3. 3. Service Design in Creating Authenticity cal element, the aim of the Welcome Package is to lowerIn order to design a tourist experience in connection the barrier to entry to the library. The tourist can simplywith libraries, the service design approach worked as the order the package through the AITO website before de-essential medium. The customer journey map was used parture, and they can pick it up in the library when theyto discover the probable touchpoints that make the target arrive. The Welcome Package is designed for each touristtourists step into the library, engaging with the new with a temporary library card in their name, and it pri-service based on their needs. A co-design workshop with marily consists of a list of selected local culture, librarythe tourists, the librarians and local residents was also materials and programs – including the AITO service –carried out to reveal service opportunities, since these based on personal interests, selected in advance throughare the focal stakeholders who have great potential to the website. Through the service, the tourists have notenhance the capability of the service, both as experts in only the same rights as locals to access all the materialsthe local culture and as regular customers of the library. and services of the library, but also have more self-moti- The most crucial finding driving this project was vation to visit the library without any preconceptions.the target tourists’ prejudice against the public library. The ‘AITO Story’ is developed from the fact thatThis meant that the tourists felt like outsiders, invad- many tourists invest time in searching through reliableing the local residents’ everyday life, and so they were resources in order to reduce any travel-related uncer-reluctant to consider the library as a destination. Thus, tainty. The library offers exclusive and reliable localthe need for service element to motivate the tourists to knowledge in cooperation with local residents to supportvisit the library, led to the service vision of: “This new the tourists in gaining a distinct and profound view ofservice makes visitors feel part of the city, and able to the city. ‘AITO Kits’ are the various resource kits withinteract more easily with the day-to-day culture, espe- specific themes, provided by the library, that give thecially with locals with whose lives they can identify.” tourists an opportunity to encounter hidden, uncom- mercialised aspects of Finnish culture. For instance,Aito, a New Service Concept Proposition ‘Bike Kits’, including a free city bike, a map with recom-‘AITO’ is a service concept for authentic tourist experi- mended routes for cycling and a bicycle repair guideence that offers a diverse way of engaging in genuine and tools, can assist the tourist in exploring a differ-Finnish culture, based on an emotional interaction with ent side of Helsinki. The aim of ‘AITO Culture’ is tolocal people. ‘AITO’ means ‘authentic’ or ‘genuine’ in open all library-based cultural programs to all visitors,Finnish, thus it reflects the philosophy of this service, including tourists. A successful experience at this levelalong with the service slogan, ‘look closely, think widely’. would make locals and tourists feel connected to each The AITO service, targeted at those tourists who other, while respecting their differences in a practi-prefer off-the-beaten-track Helsinki, is structured by cal activity, such as a one-day Finnish cuisine class.considering different levels of tourist desires, from pas- As the vital phrase, the last level of service,sive to active involvement in the destination, based on ‘AITO Buddy’, aims to ensure that the focus of touristpersonal interests and needs. The root of this idea was attention shifts away from external cultural objects andfrom one striking finding that a different expectation of instead looks deep into themselves through authentic‘authenticity’ regarding Finland exists among people, travel practices. Both tourist and local can find someonedepending on their cultural background or their per- who shares similar interests among the various AITOsonal context. In order for this finding to frame a service buddy profiles containing specific personal prefer-system, it was developed on the basis of the four stages ences that they create in advance. They can then designof a library service platform for the community. There- all sorts of experiences together in Finland, such asfore, the library service model developed by this project having a cup of coffee, discussing shared interests,expands the service capability in a broad context, from language-learning exchanges or short day trips. Theonly local residents to international visitors (Figure 1). tourists are able to participate in real local life through AITO consists of a ‘Welcome Package’ and four genuine contact, and local residents can also have thestages of participatory services (Figure 2). As the criti- opportunity to meet, on their own home turf, people56 touchpoint
  4. 4. eat, sleep, play aito service website LEVEL 1 AFTER-TRAVEL aito story To provide the tourist with novel and LEVEL 4 reliable information that creates aito buddy in cooperation with local and library To encourage the tourist and locals in developing their own context from mutual interest as forminga relationship by involving in the process aito buddy; travel card aito PRIOR-TRAVEL To create the Travel Card to describe service tourists and locals themselves in advance, if they want to LEVEL 3 use AITO Buddy service aito culture ON THE SPOT To open the all cultural programs with tourist to initiate them into engaging in the community welcoming LEVEL 2 package aito kits Tourist can order the package before depature, To offer various resources kits and the contents of package can be selected on the for the tourist to assist realization lists via the website e.g. a temporary library card, of their expectations and aspirations recommened information based on tourist interests e.g. Bike Kit with a free city bike, a map and bicycle repaire guide and tools the helsinki central library Pick up the Welcoming packageFigure 2.: ‘AITO’ Service Diagram. The service considers different levels of tourist’s desires from passiveto active involvement in the destination, covering not only during their stay, but before and after travel.from all over the world who share common interests. So, we, hope that this service experienceThe role of the library is a reliable and safe platform will enrich lives by offering internalthat empowers all visitors to openly and freely create stimuli for self-discovery both fortheir own authentic stories from mutual interests. the tourists and locals, and will also offer the library an opportunity toFinal Thoughts strengthen its responsibility as a realAs the cultural diversity of societies grows rapidly cultural-based foundation for a widethe world over, the role of service design will become range of audiences while, at the samemore important in uniting different fields to cater for a time, leading the way in promotingwider range of demands. Although AITO is still at the Helsinki as a city which places a highconcept stage, its full or partial implementation is being value on social equality for all.considered for the New Central library. Developingthe detailed service process using a service blueprintand service scenarios has supported this project in Referencesenvisioning positive impact both in tourism and in the 1 Richards, G. & Wilson, J. (2006): Developing Creativitylibrary domain. In the pilot test, an interviewee said in Tourist Experiences: a Solution to the Serial Reproduction of Culture?. Tourism Management, 27,that this concept has inspired him to check out the local 1209-1223library next time before travelling, and he is becoming 2 Whitman John R. (2003): Libraries and Tourism. Themore and more active in using his local library. UNESCO Network of Associated libraries. touchpoint 57