Significant funding from Alfred Kordelin Foundation for the National Library to improve the accessibility of Sámi language and cultural materials

Date published

The National Library of Finland is delighted with the Major cultural projects grant awarded to the library by Alfred Kordelin Foundation. The grant enables the creation of support for Northern Sámi language in three digital services administered by the National Library and utilised by many other operators: Finna, Finto and Kotoistus. This will improve the visibility and findability of Sámi information and cultural heritage material. Information retrieval in Northern Sámi language will also be facilitated.

Henkilö pitää käsissään tablettia, jossa näkyy Finna-palvelun aloitussivu
Picture by
Paavo Pykäläinen

“Cultural diversity and the multilingualism of Finnish society are important for the National Library,” says Kristiina Hormia-Poutanen, who leads the project. She continues: “The opportunity to cherish one’s own language and culture is crucial also for maintaining the vitality of small languages and cultures. We engage in this work together with a large expert network in Sámi languages and cultures.” 

The funding awarded to the National Library spans over two years and is in total €240,000.  

“We are delighted that, with the funding, we can promote the visibility of materials in Northern Sámi and multilingual accessibility of data in all of Finland, as well as internationally,” says Hormia-Poutanen. 

“By granting the funding directly for two years and by acting as the main sponsor of the project, the foundation aims to simplify the project funding in a situation in which funding is often collected from several different sources,” says Erik Båsk, Managing Director at Alfred Kordelin Foundation. “In this round, we funded projects that are important to the general public in addition to the scientific community.” 

Finna is a search service through which Finnish cultural heritage organisations, such as libraries, museums and archives, distribute millions of their materials digitally. Finto includes vocabularies and concepts used in cataloguing and information retrieval. Kotoistus promotes the use of ICT products and services in one’s native language. National services were originally built in Finnish, Swedish and English. 

During the project period, a comprehensive support in Northern Sámi language will be built in these three important infrastructures. Northern Sámi is the most commonly used Sámi language in Finland. During the process, procedures will be formed that will help the National Library of Finland and other operators take diversity into account even better in future. 

The National Library’s work is supported by a wide cooperation network: AvoinGLAM network, Giellagas Institute (University of Oulu), Giellatekno research group (UiT The Arctic University of Norway), Sámi Parliament, Sámi Museum Siida, Finnish Sámi Special Library and Unicode. The role of the Sámi Giellagáldu, an expert body in the use and standardisation of Sámi languages, is pivotal. 

UNESCO has declared the period 2022–2032 as the International Decade of Indigenous Languages. The National Library’s project Support for Sámi languages in digital services (Saamelaiskielten tuki digitaalisissa palveluissa) will be realised in this topical spirit.  

Further Information:

Contact person

Kristiina Hormia-Poutanen
Director of Services
Library Network Services
+358 (0)50 552 3056
National Library
P.O.Box 15 (Unioninkatu 36)
00014 University of Helsinki