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.
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
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
Contents No. 49