An information kiosk is a stand, booth, or type of gazebo that has one open side, and includes free informative literature. Some kiosks of this nature may also include a guide or attendant who's main purpose is to help guide visitors by offering information and advice. Maps, fliers, small books, and other items may be available to anyone who visits an information kiosk.
Within North America, most kiosks are of the informative type, though some kiosks also act as small newsstands that sell cigarettes, newspapers, and other items. Throughout the rest of the world, a kiosk is usually a type of garden center or small shelter similar to a gazebo. In addition to traditional kiosks, computerized kiosks have become quite common.
A computer kiosk is closely related to an information kiosk, only this type of booth solely includes computerized information. In place of the usual kiosk attendant, secure computers allow users to access valuable tourist information. Often, these structures are referred to as "touchscreen kiosks."
The word "kiosk" is of Persian origin, though it can be translated into many other languages. The first kiosks were invented by the Seljuks who wanted to provide mosque goers with some type of shelter from the elements. Thus, these kiosks were attached to the sides of various mosques. Following the Seljuks, the Ottomans adopted the kiosk concept, only Ottoman sultans used these domed shelters as a sort of royal residence. European ambassadors who spent a large amount of time in Turkey were greatly impressed upon by Turkish kiosks, which is why this type of building is extremely common across Europe today.
Many kiosks throughout history were embellished by various sultans, kings, and other rulers. Some of the best examples of these elaborate kiosks include the Tiled Kiosk and the Baghdad Kiosk, both located in Turkey. These kiosks include grand columns, various levels, and intricate architecture.
Numerous greenhouses across the globe have been modeled after Turkish kiosks. These greenhouses have domed ceilings, sometimes covered in glass, large garlands of exotic flowers, and elements of Turkish architecture. The modern information kiosk rarely resembles the original Seljuk kiosks in any manner.
From the average mall information kiosk to the kiosks that house vendors, these buildings are recognizable across the globe. Visitors to any part of the world tend to understand that an information kiosk will hold valuable tourist material. This makes these small booths indispensable.