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Lobbying and 

Library councils and associations strengthen co-operation of the libraries and librarians.

Kimmo Tuominen
Director, Jyväskylä University Library
President of the Finnish Research Library Association
Co-chair of IFLA 2012 National Committee

Jarmo Saarti
Director, University of Eastern Finland Library

inland has sometimes been called as the land of associations. This characterisation aptly describes the situation in the Finnish library system. All the library sectors have organised themselves as councils: AMKIT Consortium (Polytechnic libraries), Council for Finnish University Libraries, Council for Public Libraries, and Council for the Special Libraries.

The primary aim of each council is to act as a focal point for the libraries in a specific sector, to lobby on library issues from the point of view of that sector and to represent the sector officially. The councils designate their representatives in various working groups and consortia. The councils also hold joint meetings and issue statements on national matters concerning Finnish libraries and library services. There is cooperation within and between the library sectors. In addition, the councils have also been active in implementing various library projects, e.g., in service development and sector-wide acquisition of integrated library systems.

The largest library association is the Finnish Library Association (the FLA), which considers itself as an organisation to promote the ideology of the library, a lobbyer for libraries and a developer of the library field. Most of the FLA’s 2000 members come from the public library sector, and the FLA receives a significant part of its funding from the public library finances from the Ministry of Education and Culture. The FLA publishes Library Journal (Kirjastolehti) and bi-annually organises a large library meeting called Library days (Kirjastopäivät).

The Finnish Research Library Association (the FRLA) promotes the role of libraries in research and education. The FRLA was founded in 1929 and it was the first institutional IFLA member in Finland. It has about 700 members. The FRLA’s open access journal, Signum, is mostly written in Finnish, but also publishes an international issue in English once a year. The role of the association is especially prominent in the further education of library staff. The FRLA has 11 working groups that plan and organise many seminars on a yearly basis.

The Finland's Swedish Library Association (the FSLA) provides activities and services for the Swedish speaking part of the nation, and it also publishes a journal in Swedish called Bibban.

In addition to these library-oriented associations, there is also the Society for Finnish Information Specialists (the SFIS), “a non-profit professional organisation for those working in the field of retrieving, analysing, recording and disseminating information in various forms”. The SFIS was founded in 1947 and has about 700 members. The Society publishes a journal called Information Specialist (Tietoasiantuntija).

The Finnish Association for Information Studies is an association specialising in research in the library and information field. It publishes an open access refereed journal called Information Studies (Informaatiotutkimus).

The above mentioned associations are active both nationally and internationally, e.g., in IFLA. They lobby and promote their interests and try to ensure that library and information issues are not overlooked in policy decision.

The merging of the FLA, the FRLA, the FSLA and the SFIS enjoyed the support of the members of all the associations in a survey conducted in 2006. For administrative, financial and political reasons, the merger did not take place. In 2004, these associations formed a national Council for Library Associations, which meets regularly, issues statements and undertakes other kinds of common projects. Recently, the Council for Library Associations has been active in the e-book and copyright debate in Finland.

  • Tuominen, K. & Saarti, J. (2012), ‘The Finnish library system – open collaboration for an open society’, IFLA Journal, Vol. 38, no. 2.
Find out more about Finnish library associations!