of Finland Bulletin 2014
The National Library of Finland Bulletin 2014


Kristiina Hormia-Poutanen, Heli Kautonen

Finna a platform service for the treasures of Finnish archives, libraries and museums

National Digital Library is one of the research, innovation and creativity environments, the promotion of the development of which is among the strategic policies of the Ministry of Education and Culture. The project implements national culture and science policies by means of increasing the availability and preservation of the electronic information resources of libraries, archives and museums. Finna is a significant research infrastructure, and a service which can also strengthen electronic learning environments. based on open source and open metadata

The Finna search service ( is the first to bring together the collections of Finnish archives, libraries and museums. It also provides direct access to the services of archives, libraries and museums such as renewals of loans. Finna is intended for all seekers of both information and inspiration. The service features treasures from the collections as well as the latest research results. Users can easily access images of museum objects and works of art, digital documents, books, maps and reference data independent of time and place. Finna's information is reliable and up to date, thanks to the efforts of experts at the participating archives, libraries and museums. Finna's user interface is responsive to different usage environments across a variety of of devices.

Finna is based on Open Source Software (OSS). OSS promotes national and international collaboration in developing the interface. The public interface is created iteratively through several rounds of development, using an agile development method together with the archives, libraries and museums.

For some time, a paradigm shift has been occurring in the development of data systems both in Finland and abroad. This shift will allow the expanded use of open source software, making it the best solution in many cases. Open source based solutions have often emerged when no appropriate off-the-shelf software has been available for a specific purpose.

The metadata of Finna will be based on CC0. The decision to use open source solutions in the development of the public interface and applying CC0 licence regarding metadata is in accordance with Finnish national policies. It also facilitates national and international co-operation in the development of digital public services.


One of the Finnish research Infrastructures

The Finnish research infrastructure roadmap for 2015-2020 has been launched in March 2014. Finna is among one of the 31 national level infrastructures. The roadmap will be updated every five years. Finna will become the main access point to scholarly content for researchers. The long-term aim is to link research publications to research data. Finna will provide the needed access platform.

Finna is strongly connected to other national-level infrastructure projects. The Finnish Information Infrastructure Services (TTA and KDK-PAS) of CSC and the National Ontology Service, which is being implemented by the National Library of Finland, support the whole research community.

Organisations will join Finna step-wise

Currently there are 45 organisations (11archives,9 libraries and 25 museums) in production through The list of these aorganisations is available at Finna portal ( .

In addition several organisations have developed an organisational view of Finna, some examples:

National Library of Finland:

Helsinki City museum:

University of Jyväskylä:

Finna contains ca 8.6 million references and ca 0.8 million digital objects. The amount of references and digital objects grows steadily.

Attention on end-user's needs

The uses and users of Finna can be many. The National View of Finna offers access to all restriction-free materials from participating libraries, archives and museums. The National View is, in principle, targeted towards every Finnish citizen. Individual organizations taking part in Finna can also tailor the default interface to their own needs, and include their specific services. These integrated services can comprise of a unified index of electronic material, a content management system, or a web shop. Such local interfaces can have more specific end-user groups, e.g., the patrons of a university library or the audience of a local museum.

Usability has been one of Finna's essential development tracks. In the beginning, during the planning phase, the principle that usability should be considered in the system requirements and throughout the development project prevailed. As the project proceeded, other aspects and activities have been adopted.

During the development of Finna, a few extensive usability tests with prospective end-users have been conducted. This far, these tests have evaluated expectations and needs of only some particular user groups, such as university students and researchers or non-academic family historians. Accessibility of Finna has also been evaluated.

Finna's evaluation activities are strongly based on collaboration with external experts and partner organizations. The actual use of Finna is being monitored with a software module, which stores and analyses data on site traffic and visitors. User surveys will complement the log data, and help in analyzing the actual use of Finna.

Wider integration and dissemination of Finna

Digital libraries such as Finna can enrich cultural and educational services by providing authorized material when integrated to different kinds of applications and platforms. Particularly in primary education, there is a need to find solutions of integrating digital learning environments with a variety of information resources and cross-disciplinary source material. Finna has been considered a viable resource for such integration. Thus, ways to link Finna to National Cloud services in Education have been examined.

For the moment, Finna is in the phase of rapid growing. The number of organizations taking part in Finna is increasing fast, which is naturally a challenge for the management and communication. Consequentially, the number and variety of materials in Finna are increasing fast. Still, many essential Finnish organizations and their collections are not in Finna. In other words, Finna has not reached its full potential, yet. Therefore Finna's marketing towards the general public has been rather moderate, whereas the dissemination among libraries, archives, and museums has been very active. Finna has been presented in various national and international forums for librarians, archivists and museum professionals. Demonstrations of Finna service have also been welcome on wider forums, such as KIDE for Finnish ministries' interest groups about intelligent strategies, or the Open Finland 2014 seminar about applicability of open data.

One by one, organizations publishing their materials in Finna have marketed the new service among their customers. Every year, the National Library coordinates a Finna festivity, The Finna Day, which is currently targeted to participating organizations. During the day Finna is also better visible to its end-users. Year by year, marketing and dissemination activities of Finna will reach more audience, and Finna will become widely known by the public.


Kristiina Hormia-Poutanen is the Director and Heli Kautonen is the Head of Services in the National Library Network Services.




Print this article (PDF) Print entire issue (PDF)