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Finns Are 
 Inspired and 
 Empowered by 
 Their Libraries

etworking, architecture, good collections, highly educated professionals… These are characteristics of Finnish libraries. Thanks to these elements of quality, we can add one more word to the list: popularity. Public, academic and special libraries are well visited and used even on the internet era. In public libraries the total annual lending was 18 items per citizen in 2011. The amount of downloads in academic libraries was 84 per student or staff member in 2011. Web visits now exceed physical visits.

All Finnish libraries are open and free to everybody, including university and research libraries, the Parliament Library and the Finnish National Library.

The service concepts have been up-dated in large scale to benefit the user. Finnish library professionals nowadays want to combine their own know-how with the user’s, instead of clinging to the idea of their own monopoly of knowledge. Many libraries have lowered their desk barriers, and professionals blend in among the users and offer services actively. Academic and research libraries have integrated their services into the research and publication processes. Their physical and virtual spaces are built as learning environments for students and researchers.

Some of the new service concepts have indeed surprised and inspired users. For example, several public libraries have welcomed Reading Assistant Dogs to help kids and adults with reading problems. Dogs listen patiently in spite of slow or clumsy reading. The National Library invite citizens fix mistakes in the index of old Finnish newspapers with the help of fun games.

The publications describing our libraries are the result of a large co-operation joined by dozens of energetic professionals around the country. This booklet gives you a taste of what you will find on our website ‘Imagine and Explore — Finnish Libraries Now!’. The articles and videos give you a panorama of the interesting and important library work in Finland.

I wish all readers inspiring moments with our Libraries Now!

Tuula Haavisto
Chair, ‘Finnish Libraries Now’ publications team
Director of Libraries, Tampere City Library