Come and test emotion bookmarks at Helsinki's libraries

Helsinki City Library has started an unprecedented pilot related to book recommendations. The libraries are testing emotion bookmarks with which customers can recommend literature to each other in an easy and inspiring manner.

Using emotion bookmarks is a new, communal recommendation method that helps customers choose books and enables them to share inspiring reading experiences with others. The emotion bookmarks are bookmarks that represent the emotional experience invoked by the book. Readers can use the emotion bookmarks to recommend books to others or identify what kind of an emotional experience they themselves would like to have through reading. 

There are four different emoticn bookmarks to choose from: Insightful, Tingling, Refreshing and Thrilling. These four adjectives were chosen because they are sufficiently different from one another, describe emotional reactions and are understandable. In practice, the emotion bookmarks are located near the libraries’ return terminals, enabling customers to place a suitable bookmark in the book that they are returning and leave the book for another reader to find.

People are interested in books recommended by others

The pilot is based on the observation that people are interested in books read by others and also have a need to share their own reading experiences with others. The emotion bookmarks utilise choice architecture, the idea being to help people choose from a large number of different options. This conclusion came up in the service design process, which involved observing and listening to Central Library Oodi’s customers and workers.

“Libraries have enormous amounts of materials, which can make it difficult for a person to find something that suits them. Library professionals very often see customers checking out return carts and reservation shelves with great interest to see what other customers have returned and reserved. The emotion bookmarks target this very phenomenon in an interesting way: they make it easy for customers to find items read and recommended by others in the library space,” explains Director of Oodi Anna-Maria Soininvaara.

“Book recommendations are at the core of the work of library professionals, and we continue to encourage customers to ask the library workers for reading tips. However, peer recommendations from one reader to another are an excellent addition to the sphere of book recommendations at libraries. Our objective is to utilise all kinds of recommendations to inspire people to read and take advantage of the libraries’ extensive selections as diversely as possible,” Soininvaara continues.

Emotion bookmarks available for testing at libraries across Helsinki

The emotion bookmarks will be available at all libraries of Helsinki for the duration of the pilot. Based on experiences from the first week, customers have immediately taken to the bookmarks.

“The emotion bookmarks have garnered plenty of positive attention and delighted comments. Readers enjoy sharing meaningful reading experiences with others, and the emotion bookmarks make it quick and easy to recommend books. It would also appear that books with emotion bookmarks are frequently borrowed, which means that they are working exactly as we had hoped,” rejoices Librarian Katariina Suurpalo from Central Library Oodi.

The success rate of the pilot will be monitored and customer feedback will be collected until the end of the year. The experiences will be used to make decisions on developing the emotion bookmarks and potentially using them as part of the libraries’ service selection in the future.

Welcome to library to share reading experiences using emotion bookmarks!

Photo: Daniel Leiviskä