The Finnish network of libraries consists of public i.e. municipal libraries, research libraries (university libraries and libraries of universities of applied sciences), special libraries, and libraries located at schools and other educational institutions. Municipal libraries and research libraries are open for everyone.
The collections and information services provided by the public libraries are considered to be part of society's intellectual capital, which is why the basic services are free of charge for all users. Under the Library Act, every Finnish municipality must provide the services specified in the Act. The services provided by the public libraries must be equally accessible to all.
Public libraries utilise digitalisation in their service production and development of operations, and they support and guide library users in managing the digital environment. As part of the project for the digitalisation of public services, metadata and system services have been introduced to guarantee the interoperability of libraries.
Libraries are accessible to all
The Finnish system of municipal libraries is of high quality by international standards. There are a total of 717 main and branch libraries in Finland. Up to 70 per cent of Finns live within three kilometres from a library, and 93 per cent of Finns have at most 10 kilometres to the nearest library.
Mobile libraries - a total of 128 of them - complete the municipal library services. Mobile libraries have long traditions in Finland, as the first mobile library started its operations as early as in 1913.
Mobile libraries serve users of all ages and provide an opportunity to use library services also for those who for one reason or another cannot access a regular library. Mobile libraries stop at predetermined places on average once a week.
In Finland, the number of library visits per resident and the social appreciation for libraries are among the highest in the world. Library services are among the most frequently used municipal services, and the users come from all age groups. Almost 80 per cent of municipal residents use library services. In 2021, the number of library visits per resident was 6 and the number of items borrowed 14. The number and variety of electronic materials and services are on the rise. Municipalities used an average of EUR 60 per resident for the production of library services in 2019.
The National Digital Library and FINNA
The National Digital Library (NDL) is a project carried out by the Ministry of Education and Culture in 2008–2017. In the course of the project, the accessibility and usability of electronic materials and services of libraries, archives and museums were improved and the long-term preservation of digital cultural heritage materials was developed.
As a result of the project, a public interface providing access to several search services, Finna, was created (www.finna.fi). Finna provides access to the materials and services of about 400 libraries, archives and museums. New organisations join the service all the time.
Finna is also used to transmit information on the cultural heritage available in digital format to Europeana, the European Digital Library.
The results of the NDL project will in future be utilised in the work carried out to promote digital cultural heritage.
Tale of a Library
Library Channel has produced a documentary about libraries. The documentary (English narration) tells the story of the library from late 18th century to present day. Customers have always been the core of library services and their stories are an essential part of the documentary.
Leena Aaltonen, kulttuuriasiainneuvos
Ministry of Education and Culture, Kulttuuri- ja taidepolitiikan osasto (KUPO), Taiteen ja kulttuuriperinnön vastuualue (TAKU) Telephone:0295330344
Anne Luoto-Halvari, opetusneuvos
Ministry of Education and Culture, Korkeakoulu- ja tiedepolitiikan osasto ( KTPO ), Strategisen ohjauksen vastuualue (SO) Telephone:0295330200
Minna Karvonen, Deputy Director General
Ministry of Education and Culture, Kulttuuri- ja taidepolitiikan osasto (KUPO), Taiteen ja kulttuuriperinnön vastuualue (TAKU) Telephone:0295330142