A joint Finnish e-library to be prepared

The Ministry of Education and Culture has awarded a grant of 250,000 euros for the launch of a national e-library project. The aim of the project is to improve the regional availability of e-books and the equality of citizens across Finland.

The project, led by Helsinki City Library, will explore and try out new solutions for the technical, copyright and usability issues of the digital library with various partners. Furthermore, investigations will be conducted on how to connect the project outcome with the National Library of Finland and its digital Finna ecosystem.

The project will create the basis for a digital media service concept that will enable the introduction of a common digital collection with seamless access for all public library customers in Finland. The project’s key partners include libraries, publishers, authors, digital platform providers and copyright organisations.

The availability of e-books and e-magazines in the public libraries of Finland varies depending on the municipality, and there are big differences in the selections between municipalities. This increases regional inequality.

– The selection of digital books and magazines is growing at a rapid pace, and libraries need to be able to offer them to their customers more easily. I believe that this can be achieved by seeking solutions in close cooperation with the book and publishing industry. Those to benefit from the project will be the entire Finnish book and publishing industry, i.e. Finnish literature and its readers, says Helsinki’s Director of Library Services Katri Vänttinen.

At the moment, using libraries’ e-materials is challenging for the customer, as the materials are on many different service platforms. Libraries’ customers and staff need to identify what content is available on which service and use a variety of applications and devices. This, too, reduces usability and equal access.

– I strongly believe that, in the near future, the extensive digital collection offered by public libraries will be available to all public library customers from a single service platform. The study report will be published in February or March 2021, says Head of Library Network Services Virva Nousiainen-Hiiri from Helsinki City Library.