eahillogo.gif (18366 bytes)
European Association for Health Information and Libraries
Association Européenne pour I'Information et les Bibliothèques de Santé


Finnish Medical Libraries through Hungarian Eyes

Early this autumn I was able to spend one week in Finland on a study-tour. The aim of the fellowship was to gain experience and to establish new professional connections with the Finnish library management.

Although we work in the same area, the social, cultural, technical levels are different so the comparison of the work between the two library worlds could help us advance.

The Integrated Library System

In Finland there is only one integrated library system, VTLS, which is installed throughout the country in every large library, all modules being continually updated. The Finnish union catalogue is located in every library. In the near future they are considering changing their system to a new and better one. The systems in question: Dynix, Voyager, Innopac and Taos are being tested nationwide and compared with the present system running in Finland.

On the other hand in Hungary there are many different systems running (namely: Dynix, Aleph, Voyager, Oracle, Amicus etc.) in the libraries. We have been working separately for many years; we have still no union catalogue, and sorry to say we are not utilising all the advantages of every module of our integrated systems.

FinElib Consortium

For the sake of economic investment and in order to achieve the most up-to-date services, the Finnish have established a very powerful co-operation among the universities. This consortium is open to any other institution wishing to join. At the very beginning all subject groups and their databases were selected and tested electronically by a wide range of the users. The management of the consortium then discussed the results and evaluated the usage of the pre-selected databases as well as the licence problems and the price quotations. The government strongly supported this procedure and the decision making process. This "government budget sponsored" consortium represents the interest of its members and successfully fights for the most favourable prices possible. As a result of this activity, the Finnish have about seventy databases and approximately 2600 full-text electronic journals from Academic Press, Springer, Highwire, etc. The management of the consortium repeated the usage analyses after the first year and annually afterwards, involving a new choice of databases and e-journals.

In Hungary several different consortia are running. The aims of these consortia are exactly the same as those in Finland but the methods of their realisations are completely different. Our universities also have a common interest to put their financial sources together but the foundation for a nationwide consortium has not been realised, yet! There are too many types of "system" problems that prevent wider co-operation which comprise differences in library maintenance (local, governmental, ministries sponsored, private etc.) as well as in their financial resources or their computer networks and operating systems! Every university tries to find the best solution and is ready to co-operate only with a similar university or institute! I think it is high time for the Hungarian university libraries to organise a similar national consortium for all databases and electronic periodicals which we need because of the serious lack of money that abounds in every institution.

We just cannot afford to meet demands by current methods!


I have looked at the different university homepages. Their contents are informative and interactive, especially useful for direct online connection to catalogues, acquisitions and services. I liked the feedback possibilities very much. I was however sorry that I was unable to study the full contents in the Finnish language. The Hungarian homepages have an English version, but they are of poorer quality and have no feedback possibilities (opinions and suggestions).

Among the many useful experiences, these points were the most important for me during the study-tour. The next step is to disseminate my experiences through different presentations, meetings, and to introduce new strategies in the Hungarian libraries. Last, but not least, I should like to mention, that I have always been aware of the traditional Finnish - Hungarian friendship. We hope, we will see you soon in Hungary.


I visited the following libraries, and I would like to express my sincere thanks to the Directors and staff of these libraries and to my Finnish colleagues for their helpfulness and their personal kindness.

  • National Library of Health Sciences contact: Pirjo Rajakili
  • National Public Health Library Jukka Lindeman
  • FinElib Consortium Kristiina Hornia Poutanen
  • Helsinki University Central Library Pekka Kiukkonen
  • University of Turku Library of Medical Faculty Saimi Schwela

Livia Vasas

wpe3.jpg (742 bytes)

Contents No. 49


Updated by Webmaster2000-01-25