The Central Library is a treasure trove for the people living in the city. But what treasures can be found there in 2018? And how are those treasures collected?
Deputy Library Director Anna-Maria Soininvaara says that the collection for the Central Library is already being sought out.
“The comic collection, for example, has been charted and thousands of albums have been selected. Classics are sought out determinedly, because the age of a book in stores is short. Books are sought by the acquisition department in second-hand bookshops, for example. Children’s materials are also being collected actively.”
In order to ensure that the books and other materials won’t be worn out by Christmas 2018, some of them are stored in a separate storage. On the opening day of the Central Library, the intention is to have 150,000 items on offer.
“Nobody needs to fear a lack of books in the Central Library. There will be some 3.6 shelf kilometres of books and other items. The top floor will be a book paradise,” Soininvaara says.
A floating system for materials is tested in the Helsinki region at the moment. The Vantaa and Espoo city libraries are testing what happens if books stay in the unit to which they are delivered. Books are not taken back to their original unit, which makes the material free to be borrowed immediately.
“The floating system is intelligent, and it won’t let all the materials be collected in one unit. The situation stays in balance, and other libraries do not suffer. Floating also offers variation in the supply. Books that are the most popular in a certain region are also on display the most. By the opening of the Central Library, floating will be widespread,” Soininvaara notes.
“The reservation system also allows any book to be ordered to any other unit, just like they are now moved. The library is practicing the modern trend of not owning everything. Books can be moved quickly and freely from place to place.”
What kinds of materials does Soininvaara believe to be the most wanted in the Central Library? What is the main material type that is collected in the Central Library more than other units?
“The Central Library offers a wide variety of fresh materials in many languages. The move of the multilingual Pasila library is currently under discussion, and Library 10 will also move to the Central Library. The foreign-language selection of materials will be increased significantly. The most common languages in the selection include common European languages as well as Arabic, Chinese, Somali, and Russian.”
“Our customers have a significant role. Floating allows us to see what kind of range is the most interesting in the Central Library; what people really want to borrow.”
Library materials challenged by the ever changing world
Those who acquire materials for the library must always keep in mind the changes in today’s world and its technology. In only a few years, things may be very different from what they are today.
“At first, we were planning a CD collection of 40-50,000 albums, but now it seems the number will be greatly reduced. People no longer listen to CDs. The amount of magazines will also be reduced from the current numbers, if only because the number of magazines available is becoming smaller. At the same time, online magazines are in active use through Helmet’s new magazine service eMagz, for example,” Soininvaara points out.
Printed books are still relevant. The collection of e-books will be charted and developed within the next few years. It is still quite difficult to estimate the development of the popularity of electronic books.
“The customers’ preferences were studied for choosing the range of English-language literature for the Central Library. It is interesting that the test group chose entirely different books than the personnel. That is another reason why cooperation with the customers is so important: there are so many tastes in books,” Soininvaara says.
These testings are continued in the near future. The future will also decide on the content of the collections. According to Soininvaara, the range of music and movies will mostly concentrate on classical collections and European supply. It is only a good thing if libraries offer something that Netflix may not.
Anna-Maria Soininvaara expects the Central Library to become a home to freedom of speech and raising children.
“The Central Library will be the crown jewel of Finnish libraries; a place where new ways of presenting literature in a non-commercial way will be sought. Where one can learn and make a difference. Only half of all library customers borrow books. Other services are increasing, which presents new challenges and opportunities for developing library services.”
“But we will not give up our library heaven!”
Text: Siru Valleala
Pictures: Helsinki City Library