Guiding children by a storytelling thread

Work — RaRa Jutulõng

Jutulõng is a service concept that encourages local children aged 10–15 to find their way in the main building of the National Library of Estonia when visiting on their own.


National Library of Estonia

Oct–Dec 2023

Research, ideation, UX

How might we encourage school children to find their way in the National Library?

Collaborating with fellow students from the master’s program, we embarked on researching the National Library of Estonia, RaRa, in order to develop services that would support the future of this library. We investigated inspiring libraries including Helsinki’s Central Library Oodi, and explored the evolving role of libraries in today’s society. Subsequently, we engaged in stakeholder mapping and identified key target groups.

Dividing into smaller teams, I focused on one particular demographic – city school children aged 10–15 as one of the most important target groups for RaRa. Through 12 interviews, we gained insights into their perspectives on libraries. Following this research phase and the creation of personas, each of us proceeded individually to ideate on potential services. My concept is called Jutulõng, Story Thread in English.

More on the process

After conducting research and discussions with the partner, it was determined that school children are one of the most important stakeholders for RaRa.

With a small team, we interviewed 12 children to learn about and from them regarding libraries. Based on the findings, we created a persona, Mirjam.

We mapped Mirjam’s journey and drop-off points. Continuing individually, I focused on arriving at the library building, where children would likely feel anxious, lost, and unwelcome.

I considered the children’s preferences that emerged from the interviews to be essential for ideation and the final design.

The challenge for ideation was to incorporate the various meanings of “finding the way” into one solution. It was important for children to experience less confusion and anxiety, physically find their way, have a positive and beneficial experience, feel motivated and encouraged to return, and break down the outdated barriers that have kept children away from such prominent institutions.

Another restriction was to keep an educational theme and the library’s goals in mind when working on the design. A brief validation showed that designing for children benefits from simplicity and clarity.

Story Thread is a reliable and friendly guide that accompanies children from the library entrance all the way up to the 3rd floor, telling an interesting story on the way.

How it works

A yarn thread’s end with relevant communication can be found at the entrance of the library. Following the uninterrupted thread leads the child to a giant yarn ball located at the destination, on the third floor where Education and Creativity Center is located.

Telling stories

There are several storytelling points (jutupunktid in Estonian) along the way, where visitors can learn a fragment of a story at each one. Curious about what happens next? Move on to the next storytelling point!

The content of the storytelling points doesn’t have to be written text. It can be an game, short film, or a personalized reading recommendation.

The impact of the project does not depend on its complexity or budget

The Jutulõng concept received highly positive feedback from both the employees of RaRa’s Education Center and its service designers. However, the project is currently on hold until the completion of the main building renovation, which is expected to take place between 2026 and 2027. Furthermore, the execution of the project hinges on the allocation of funds within the library’s construction budget.

Throughout the project, I was introduced to various service design processes and methodologies. I gained a deeper understanding of the significance of thorough research, which is crucial for maintaining focus on the problem at hand and establishing a solid foundation for subsequent design phases.

Kaupo Kalda