Finland Gives You A Lesson (Good Grief!)

07.12.2010

A delegation of rich and famous Finns worked on a “Country Brand” for Finland. After two years of work the end report is here. I’m not too impressed with the results. Especially the parts that dealt with libraries is absolute drivel. You can just see that the people writing this report have never even accidentally stepped in to a public library. I suppose I should be glad that these people even know that public libraries exist…*sigh*

Finns love their libraries. They are places for reading, listening and being. The traditional task of libraries as book storehouses where anybody can get the information they require with the assistance of friendly employees has, however, changed.

First of all, I don’t think libraries have ever been just “book storehouses”. Secondly, we librarians have been aware of the changes in information society and have adapted to the new needs of patrons and offered them new services. (A fact that these delegates would have learnt had they visited an actual library.)

“Information has been freed and an ever increasing number of Finns find the information they need via the Internet and not from books. Therefore, libraries must bring themselves up to date in order to meet the demand that still exists for them.”

Information is definitely not free. The Finnish copyrigt law among other things made sure of that. And what about the infamous e-books? Libraries (in Finland) are not free to distribute them to patrons like old-fashioned books.

There is still a need in Finland for shared living rooms, spaces for spending time and meeting people as well as for engaging in cultural pursuits, which are maintained through public funds. The role of libraries could be just as important as a coordinator of various jointly owned goods and as a promoter of a sustainable culture of consumption. Libraries in Finland can also be developed as a part of the international Tacit Factory project.”

There is still need for libraries indeed. However, public funding is in crisis and the right-wing politics has never been a fan of public services so there are no improvements in near future for any public service. Only downsizing. And what the heck is a “Tacit Factory”, you ask. Well, read the report, if you dare.

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