Volunteer-based IT Helpdesks as Ambiguous Quasi-Public Services: A Case Study from Two Nordic Countries

Camilla Vesterberg Christensen, Nils Ehrenberg, Jörn Christiansson, Erik Grönvall, Joanna Saad-Sulonen, Turkka Keinonen

Research output: Conference Article in Proceeding or Book/Report chapterArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


In this case study we take a Nordic perspective on the tension between increased digitalisation of public services and the insufficient support for citizens with limited digital literacy. Volunteer-based IT helpdesk services in public libraries have emerged as an attempt to address this tension. Drawing on examples of volunteering in public library-based IT helpdesk services in two Nordic countries, this paper considers the IT helpdesks as quasi-public services. Based on interviews, observations and workshops, we explore: the work of IT helpdesk volunteers, the characteristics of helpdesk services offered, and the implications of these services being offered by volunteers. The services offered are of acceptable quality to the users while the ambiguity and lack of institutional support is making the service fragile. In spite of the challenges of the quasi-public IT helpdesk service we also note how it offers a potential platform for the co-design and support of new public services.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationNordiCHI '22: Nordic Human-Computer Interaction Conference
Number of pages12
PublisherAssociation for Computing Machinery
Publication date8 Oct 2022
Article number44
Publication statusPublished - 8 Oct 2022
EventNordic Human-Computer Interaction Conference 2022: Participative computing for sustainable futures - Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
Duration: 10 Oct 202212 Oct 2022
Conference number: 12


ConferenceNordic Human-Computer Interaction Conference 2022
LocationAarhus University
Internet address


  • Digitalization
  • Public Services
  • Digital Literacy
  • Volunteering
  • IT Helpdesk
  • Public Libraries
  • Nordic Perspective
  • Quasi-Public Services
  • Service Quality
  • Co-Design


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