The Central Library as the stepping stone of Helsinki; Developing new service design for an authentic tourist experience

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School of Arts, Design and Architecture | Master's thesis
Degree programme
Degree Programme in Industrial and Strategic Design
Teollisen muotoilun koulutusohjelma
In recent years many cities have become similar to each other by copying successful placemaking strategies, consequently the needs for authenticity in the tourist experience has been emerged. Traditionally public libraries have been silent places for the few, however, the role of libraries in wider society has been gradually increasing during the past two decades. Especially, Helsinki city library has a long tradition of being at the heart of Finnish culture, providing a local center for knowledge and creativity. In this context, in order to help Helsinki distinguish itself from other cities, the New Helsinki Central Library which is an ongoing project, aiming to be completed in 2017, could be a potential place in which visitors can experience cultural authenticity based on the emotional interaction of encounters. The aim of this project is to enhance the role of the Helsinki Central Library by creating a new service in a way that it will support foreign visitors and tourists to experience the authenticity of Finland. As a result, the 'AITO' service concept, proposed in this thesis for the New Helsinki Central Library, offers a performance-based experiential service for tourists to engage with authentic cultures in Helsinki city. The service focuses on how to provide dynamic ways of understanding genuine Finnish cultures to meet different levels of tourist’s needs as well as how to contribute to the library and local community whilst, ultimately increasing the brand power of Finland. Thus, not only qualitative research methods, but also service design research methods are used for developing the new service based on a co-creation approach in which the customer, service provider and focal stakeholders are brought together in design process. This approach facilitates this thesis to gain meaningful, useful and interesting insights from various angles in order to build service ecology. The role of the 'AITO' service is to provide tourists and locals with a context to define the authenticity of Finland while building their own story and through interacting with each other, the experience can become life changing and meaningful for both all. By providing the service 'AITO', the Helsinki Central Library could, furthermore, strengthen its responsibility as a real culture-based foundation for a wide range of audiences. This thesis highlighted the four different roles of a public library in modern society and together they are defined as the four stages library service model acting as a strategic platform. This fundamental model was enlarged to include four levels of tourist engagement with the local culture as the service system. Thus, finally this thesis proposes further research questions regarding how to expand the four stages of an original library service model for another library customer groups such as 'AITO' case has highlighted.
Thesis advisor
Professor Satu Miettinen, Applied Art and Design, Faculty of Art and Design, University of Lapland
public library, service design, city branding, tourist experience, customer experience, authenticity, service strategy
Other note
  • 1) Video link of Service concept, AITO 2) Website link as a prototype of AITO