Helsinki City Library

Helsinki City Library

Helsinki city library is the biggest public library in Finland. With 37 branch libraries, 2 mobile libraries and over 500 librarians, it serves over 1 000 000 residents in Helsinki region. The libraries are a popular meeting place, and many events and happenings are arranged daily for every age group. Helsinki city library features a comprehensive range of books, audio books, magazines, games, movies and music. This selection is further complemented by the e-library, which features e-books, e-movies and e-magazines.

The Helsinki City Library had been working on making e-magazine services easily available to their customers inside the library premises, preferably with tablets as most visitors use tablets at home as well. The Library also wanted to familiarize their visitors with the services the library offered to promote tablet use at home and provide free access to some services which are otherwise subscription-based.

The Problem

When the e-magazine tablets were launched, the Helsinki team used similar security solutions that are often used in retail – retractable cables with alarm systems. These made it possible to pick up a tablet and hold while sitting and reading. Although convenient, these solutions were costly and fairly unreliable as units often suffered power failures or theft.

The team wanted to offer a similar digital service to children as well. The ideal solution would not only replace aging gaming PCs, it would be filled with educational apps. “For children, a device that’s always on and intuitively accessible via touch screen seemed perfect compared to a clunky PC” says Tomi Pervala, IT Systems Engineer.

The Solution

With the device and software chosen, it was time to think of security and display. Helsinki Library did not want to use the same alarm systems with the children’s units, and in order to keep the devices from suffering damage, chose to look for some sort of countertop iPad kiosk stand rather than have the tablets freely movable. Ideally, the stand would be secured to a surface to eliminate damage and theft. After a great deal of online research, the IT team found numerous tablet stands, all of which appeared far too industrial and ‘cold’ for use in a children’s environment. They wanted something that was fun, colourful and friendly looking, happy and attention grabbing.

“And then we came across Armodilo, and the Sphere tablet enclosure! Personally I fell in love with it instantly, it was easily the best looking stand I’d seen and the shape and color options made it perfect for a children’s department” says Pervala.

The Success

Their team ordered a variety of Spheres in 2015 and launched in the City Library using their software and actively monitor the children’s engagement level. 

“Our pilot was a great success, and so we went forward with ordering a larger batch of Spheres from Armodilo – along with a few special customizations” Pervala states.

Allowing the children to have volume and home screen access was a must. “To keep the Sphere fully enclosed, we created custom volume buttons on the side of the unit as well as a power button.”, says Joel Walton, Production Supervisor at Armodilo. To enhance Helsinki City Library’s brand, they chose to silkscreen their logo on each unit.

“The folks at Armodilo were very helpful with this, and all of these customizations were done exactly according to specs. Throughout the process, it was a pleasure to deal with Armodilo and we were very pleased with the results when the customized Sphere stands arrived”.

Libraries have opted for different versions of security depending on their available furniture and the neighborhood they are located in – more restless areas chose to have a security cable fitted with their tablet enclosure, others have deemed the Sphere case large and rugged enough as it is to not be stolen outright (especially if visible from the staff counter), and a few have opted for mounting it on the table surfaces using the mounting screws supplied with the cases. This flexibility also helps the Library staff make it possible to deploy the gaming tablets in just about any environment.

The future

The Helsinki Library has deployed a total of 27 children’s digital gaming tablets using Armodilo Sphere enclosures, and are planning to deploy more in 2016.

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