Lahti City Library as producer of online services

Lahti is a city of 100,000 residents located in the southern part of Finland, and its main library also functions as the regional library of the Päijät-Häme province. In addition to the main library, there are eight local libraries and two bookmobiles that serve residents in the area.

The public libraries in Finland have been extremely active in the development of society, and they began using the Internet at an early stage. The first website for the Lahti City Library was published in 1996 and by 1998 it was possible to search the library’s collections online. The most important online service for patrons is the online library, which people are using more and more. Patrons check for the availability of material, renew their loans, and make reservations for material. There is a desire to develop the system in a more interactive direction and connect it to solutions based on Web 2.0 technology. It is also evident that in the future patron access systems and the library’s website will be integrated into one entity.

For the time being, there is no readymade system, but new solutions are being developed and here in Lahti we are keeping an eye on the situation. ‘The Finnish National Digital Library project’ (2008-2011), which was launched by the Ministry of Education, involves creating a joint patron access system for memory organisations, which provide access to the electronic material and services of libraries, archives and museums. The patron access system can be integrated into the organisations’ homepages, portals and other systems, and it utilizes Web 2.0 technology and social media practices. Another alternative for a new patron access system is Arena, a commercial system developed by Ab Axiell Kirjastot Oy that will soon be pilot-tested in the Hämeenlinna City Library.

Poetry database at the Lahti City Library – one of a kind in Finland

When patrons often asked about poetry according to the first lines of a poem and whether or not a certain poet’s works had been translated into Finnish, the staff at the Lahti City Library began to create an index file of translated poetry in the 1970s. The translations were gathered from poetry anthologies, poetry and literature journals, and from the translated works of some individual poets.

Since the index file was used extensively and a similar file was not otherwise available, it was expanded into a data-base format and transferred to the Internet. At the moment there are more than 20,000 references to Finnish trans-lations of world poetry from ancient times to the present. The database’s diverse range of search possibilities allows patrons to search for poetry by title, poet, translator and/or the first lines of a poem. Searches based on the original language of a poem are also possible.We are planning to translate the database into English to enable people in other countries to utilize it.

“Vellamon vinkit” – local information online

Information networks have made it possible for libraries to engage in more far-reaching collaboration and many services are produced on the national level. However, only local libraries can be responsible for local information services and the distribution of those services because they know best the needs of the patrons in their area. At the Lahti City Library, local information has been gathered together and put on the Vellamon vinkit (Vellamo’s tips) website. The purpose of the website is to improve the availability of local information and to introduce various areas of culture in the province.

The local material is also in the library’s database, but a separate Päijät- Häme collection has also been made, which facilitates finding information because the search is then limited to local material. As we know, search engines cannot find the contents of databases, but they do indeed find other local information on the website. This is why many patrons end up searching the Päijät-Häme collection, because they find more detailed information there.

Terttu Sipilä
Online Service Specialist
Lahti City Library

terttu.sipila AT

Online Service Specialist Lahti City Library