The four different emoticon markers are seen to the right of the books, Source: Helsinki Municipality/ Daniel Leiviskä

Helsinki City Library readers recommend books to each other with emoticon markers

Helsinki City Library readers recommend books to each other with emoticon markers

It’s an experiment in making book-borrowers and readers feel more like a community

The Helsinki City Library, and all its branches, are trying out a new social experiment, which lets readers recommend books to other readers anonymously through the use of specially designed emoticon card markers.

The aim of the library is to encourage and inspire a sense of peer community and to democratize book reading. The institution has already been using the recommendations of professional experts, critics and celebrities in guiding the literature choices of the readers, but now the aim is to make the process even more personal.

Everyone can be a literary critic

After all, with the proliferation of online reviews and comments on everything and anything in life, the Internet showed that people have opinions about all kinds of things they use, see and consume and often they want to share them with the rest of the world.

That’s why, the Helsinki City Library teamed up with Kuudes Helsingin agency to design four types of emoticon cardboard cards, which indicate the emotion that a certain book has stirred in the reader.

There are four different types of markers used in the experiment: Insightful, Tingling, Refreshing and Astounding. These four adjectives were chosen because they are sufficiently different from each other, descriptive of emotional states and understandable. 

The emoticons are located in libraries near the return machines, so the customer can slip a suitable card between the pages of the book he or she is returning and leave the book for a new reader to find. 

There is a huge amount of material in libraries, among which it can be difficult to find something to read. Customers are interested in examining books returned and reserved by other customers from return carts and reservation shelves. So, the tags capture this phenomenon in an interesting way: they make it easy for readers to find books recommended by others in the library,” explains Anna-Maria Soininvaara, director of the central library. 

The success of the trial will be monitored and reader feedback will be collected for the rest of the year. With the help of experiences, decisions are made about the development of other emotional tags and a possible continuation as part of the library's service selection. 



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