Floating also affects collection work at Helsinki City Library

Helsinki City Library has a floating collection. This means that the collection is shared by all units of the Helsinki City Library. The books and other materials in the libraries in Helsinki do not belong to a specific library. Instead, the materials move between different libraries according to client needs and use.

The Helsinki City Library’s collection became a floating one in May 2019 with the introductions of IMMS, an artificial intelligence-based floating and logistics system. Thanks to the floating materials, customers can influence the selection of each library through their own actions. Returns change the selection of libraries. The system configuration can be modified based on reports and observations. Floating also affects collection work, since materials are selected for all Helsinki libraries jointly.

The floating and logistics system can send materials to the specific library where they are needed the most. The materials move smoothly between different libraries with returns and loans. This diversifies and renews the collections on the shelves. Floating has brought a pleasant turnover of the shelves of small libraries in particular.

The floating and logistics system provides more information on the movement of materials, demand and borrowing behaviour of customers. This is used in the planning of collections and in the selection of materials. Restrictive measures caused by COVID-19 have influenced people’s borrowing behaviour, and the system has not yet had much time to collect data from so-called normal times. As soon as the situation returns to normal, more data will be collected. 

The IMMS system is only in use in Helsinki. Espoo and Vantaa float their collections with the help of another system. Helsinki has a different shelf classification scheme than Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen, and each city has its own material procurement process. However, customers can borrow and reserve materials from all the Helmet libraries and return the borrowed materials to any Helmet library.

Reservations from the material depository are collected quickly

Materials for which there is no room or demand in the libraries of Helsinki are stored in a material depository located in the Pasila library. From there, the materials are moved to different libraries according to the needs of the libraries and customer reservations.

The material depository also stores Christmas materials outside the Christmas season. Customers cannot visit the material depository or select it as a collection point for reservations, but they can reserve the materials in the depository in the same way as any other materials of Helmet libraries. Reservations from the material depository are collected quickly, as it is located near the central sorting system of Helsinki. 

New collection policy takes floating into account

The Helsinki City Library has prepared a new collection policy that takes into account the changes to collection work brought about by floating. The aim is for Helsinki City Library to have a diverse and multi-voiced collection that takes into account both the high demand for popular new book releases and the provision of works by small publishers and new authors to the library’s customers.

The collection policy covers the ‘broad strokes’ that affect collection work, and customers can view it at helmet.fi/collectionpolicy.

Teams of library professionals working in libraries select materials for all Helsinki libraries. These selection teams are divided, for example, according to language and type of material. In the past, each library chose its own materials. Customers can influence choices, for instance by making requests for procurement.

Photo: Maarit Hohteri / City of Helsinki