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Mediaspace Positively Received

Rambøll Management has, on behalf of Mediaspace, conducted a survey of people’s knowledge, opinion and expectations of the coming MediaspaceAarhus’ new Main Library and Citizens’ Services. The objective of the survey was to learn:

  • What is the level of knowledge of Mediaspace?
  • What opinions of and expectations to the project do citizens have?

Moreover, the survey is the first of a range of analyses, which will enable Citizens’ Services and Libraries to measure the effect of future initiatives on involvement processes, events and the like. The result of the survey was generally very positive but also points to coming challenges.

Large support for Mediaspace

The survey showed much support for the project from respondents. As many as 77 % think that Mediaspace is good for Aarhus. Only 14 % disagree. 66 % believe it is likely or very likely that they will use the coming Mediaspace. In comparison, 57 % use the services of the present main library.

It is encouraging that so many people have a positive attitude towards the project already, and the support and interest is likely to increase when everything becomes more specific and concrete, as Mediaspace will come to consist of many interesting opportunities and will extend the boundaries for what a library can be. With Citizens’ Services also in the building, it will also be the place where citizens come to have their passport and driving licenses issued. Mediaspace will thus be a building with a large impact on the everyday lives of all people in Aarhus.

Early knowledge of the project

35 % of the survey’s respondents have heard already that a new Mediaspace is to be built in Aarhus. This is a high figure for a project which will not be finished until 2014, but it is also a figure which will be followed closely, as naturally it should increase as the completion of Mediaspace draws closer.

The survey also showed that 80 % of the respondents who had heard about Mediaspace had heard about it through newspapers, radio, TV or Internet, while only 3 % had heard about it through advertisements, at the Main Library or Citizens’ Services or at the Mediaspace website. These figures show that Mediaspace has had good coverage in the press but that a more goal-oriented initiative towards the large number of citizens, who use the libraries and Citizens’ Services already, is necessary.

The survey also showed that more than half of elderly citizens above 56 years of age have heard about Mediaspace, which is a very good result, while especially young people haven’t heard about it. Thus, it is only 18 % of 18-25-year-olds that know about the project.

This pattern repeats itself if we look at occupation. Only 17 % of people enrolled in education have heard about the project, whereas 44 % of all pensioners and early retirement pensioners have knowledge of it. There is therefore a need for spreading the message about the coming Mediaspace in upper secondary schools, universities and other educational establishments in order to achieve a greater level of knowledge among young people who will be the future users of Mediaspace.

Many and varied expectations

Apart from the lending of books, films, and music and the services of Citizens’ Services, Mediaspace is planned to consist of many other services and opportunities. It will be a place, where people from Aarhus meet across cultural barriers, and where they learn from and are inspired by each other. It will be a place, where it is possible to for instance experiment with the latest multimedia technology; a place with art exhibitions, music, talks, workshops and much more. However, nothing is as yet firmly decided and it is the intension that citizens must be active participants in the development of Mediaspace’s content and services. In the survey, respondents were thus asked which activities they expected to find in the new Mediaspace. Many good suggestions were the result of that question.

Focus on IT and establishment of networks

Apart from the general library services such as lending of books, films and music, access to computers and Internet, as known from the very popular solutions at the libraries today, was a general desire. Many suggested expanding this offer to an actual Internet café possibly with IT-courses for various groups of citizens, e.g. immigrants and senior citizens.

Overall, many respondents focus on Mediaspace continuing the tradition of the library service of today to promote enlightenment, education and cultural activity. Among other things, the respondents think that Mediaspace must contribute to strengthening integration and help establish networks, and that facilities must be made available for self-help groups and others where it is possible to talk, exchange ideas and help each other. Apparently, an important element in this vision is a café/restaurant where you can read the paper over a cup of coffee, chat online with your friends, play billiards or cards, meet your knitting group etc.

Mediaspace – a cultural chameleon?

A consistent desire among the respondents is to be given the opportunity to try out almost all art forms. Many respondents want to work with film, theatre, visual arts, music, and IT and wish that facilities are made available for the various activities. In particular, many wish that Mediaspace will consist of a cinema, concert- and theatre hall, exhibition and lecture halls and various workshops and practice rooms. Many respondents would like Mediaspace to take over the functions of Huset (activity and culture centre with open workshops) in regard to art- and IT-workshops. Mediaspace must be a place, where citizens’ various needs for creative expression are met.

Large interest and high expectations

The survey of the people of Aarhus’ knowledge, opinion and expectations of Mediaspace has provided much valuable information.

It is very satisfactory that many people know the project already and that by far the majority have a positive attitude even though the project will not be finished until 2014. However, the survey also reveals that there is a need for more initiatives towards young people in order to increase their level of knowledge of the project. At the same time it is clear that the libraries and Citizens’ Services can be used better in regard to spreading knowledge about the project.

The expectations of Mediaspace are many and varied. It must be a place, where you can meet and form networks and where you can express yourself creatively and have the opportunity to watch films, see exhibitions and hear concerts. Mediaspace must be a building, where you can borrow books or renew your driving license. It must be the place, where people meet, are inspired and become wiser.

Read the survey (pdf - in Danish only)