Advanced IT on four wheels

Nordic Mobile Library Festival 2002 Turku Finland
In Kurikka, a municipality in Finnish Ostrobothnia, the mobile library’s service level is being raised with help from the EU structural funds. The aim is to make full use of up-to-date information technology in bookmobiles, and to strengthen co-operation within the shared service network of the region’s libraries.

The project has three parts. First, the demand for modern networked services among mobile library users will be determined. This survey will incidentally raise awareness of the new forms of service. Gradually, the bus will be equipped with the very latest information technology, and then a portal for the users will be created. The project also includes guidance in how to use the new technology.

Many mobile libraries on Finnish roads are already hooked up electronically. What is special about the extensive project in Kurikka is not only more advanced technology, but also the creation of services tailor-made for patrons of mobile libraries.

Trials of Internet connections on bookmobiles are being carried out with financial support from the Ministry of Education and sponsorship from two big firms. Juva and Rantasalmi, rural municipalities in eastern Finland, have wireless buses driving around villages, participating in various local events and offering their customers Internet connections on a trial basis. The aim is to evaluate how long the stops should be for this kind of service, and to see how well they work.

State aid for building new libraries and buying mobile ones
Municipalities in Finland can apply for state aid to build a new library or to acquire a mobile one. The aid is 25- 50% of costs of either a building or a bus. Municipalities are granted subsidies in accordance with a five-year-plan, drawn up in co-operation with the Provincial State Offices, in order of priority. In the year 2002 over three and a half million euro have been allocated between ten municipalities. Two of them will build a new main library, and eight are planning to purchase a new mobile library.

Retired, former editor