How to make people read books in the digital age
The Estonian National Library (est 1918) is the largest public library in Estonia, holding over 3.5 million items. Statistics show that nowadays less people go to libraries to read, as e-readers and online sources have flooded the knowledge market. The huge building in the centre of Tallinn witnessed a declining number of visitors.
The National Library’s mission is to promote and develop national literature, culture and language – if visitors weren’t visiting the physical environment, an online alternative had to be made.
To make any service user friendly, you have to go and talk to the users about their habits, needs and wants. And so we interviewed everyone who would engage with the service. First of all we talked to librarians about the technical possibilities and limitations of the archive, the flow of work, as well as the gain and pain of working with the e-archive. We also spoke to school representatives about integrating e-reading and e-learning into classroom activities, and got the teachers’ view of the e-library and the benefits it could bring. And finally we spoke to students about what, why, how and when they would use the online service.
Make mandatory reading popular? Bring it on!
In order to do that, we had to solve several problems at once:
– making e-reading easy and accessible for different age groups.
– making it work without any additional apps or software installations.
– designing a personalised reading overview feature.
– making the content accessible both on and offline, no matter what the device.
And yes, it had to look attractive and ‘not your typical old-school library’. Piece of cake, right?
Based on the background research and mapping of different customer journeys, we developed the functionality and interface for the new e-archive. And with a little help from our friends at Mindworks the code was brought to life.
Device independence, intuitive browsing and search options, the possibility to create own micro-library and content updates on a daily basis quickly found their way to nearly 80,000 users since the launch of DIGAR in 2013. And the numbers is growing – who ever said that reading books has become obsolete?