Over 60% of the public libraries in Finland have adopted the Finna search service, which was originally developed as a customer service platform by the National Library of Finland. Customers can use the search service to retrieve information from library collections, reserve materials, renew loans and pay overdue fines.
The first version of the Finna search service was launched in 2016. Since then, the service has been commissioned by over 170 municipal and city libraries. For example, it was jointly adopted by the OUTI libraries in the Oulu region in 2018.
“Considering recent developments, we commissioned Finna at just the right time: the abolishment of reservation fees, the introduction of a joint reservation queue for all OUTI libraries and, most recently, the launch of a joint e-library for Kainuu and Northern Ostrobothnia all complement and benefit from the properties of the Finna search service. Our customers have been very pleased with the service. Among other benefits, it has made information retrieval exponentially faster,” says Noora Valkonen, Head of Services in charge of the commissioning project.
Agile development responds to local needs
“In addition to the positive customer feedback, we have received suggestions for the further improvement of the Finna service,” says Valkonen.
Erkki Tolonen, Head of Development at the National Library, feels that tracking the needs of local libraries and their customers is a significant component of the Finna development process: “Finna is a collaborative creation designed to meet the member libraries’ needs.”
The National Library develops the Finna service using an open source code according to the principles of agile development, which makes it easier to accommodate customer wishes.
“The National Library of Finland has strong open source expertise. We understand the practices of Finnish libraries in the fields of description and customer service alike,” says Tolonen.
Free access and transparency matter
Valkonen sees bright prospects for the OUTI e-library.
“A transparent development process and free access to Finna are extremely important to us. Right now it feels like anything is possible in e-library development!”
“Another wonderful thing is that since we can fully depend upon the data protection and accessibility of the Finna system, libraries can comfortably focus on content production and customer service,” says Valkonen.
Head of Development Erkki Tolonen, National Library of Finland, phone +358 50 576 2869, erkki.tolonen(at)helsinki.fi
Head of Services Noora Valkonen, Oulu City Library, phone +358 44 703 7335, noora.valkonen(at)ouka.fi
Key information about the Finna search service for public libraries:
- The service covers 18 e-libraries.
- It was first adopted by the Vaski libraries of Turku and the region of Varsinais-Suomi in 2016.
- The e-libraries have been integrated into many centralised services, including a library index.
- The service is open: the metadata and source code can be freely utilised.
- The national Finna.fi search service can also be used to search for material from the member libraries. The service covers the collections of close to 230 public libraries.
- Finna is funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture.