Council of Public Libraries
In Finland’s Library Political Programme 2001-2004 the need was stressed for a more versatile service on behalf of the National Library towards the public libraries. The programme also defined the tasks of the Central Library for Public Libraries (Helsinki City Library) and the need for an intensified cooperation with particularly the provincial libraries. According to the library act the central library must i.a.:
- promote cooperation of public libraries and between public and scientific libraries
- develop common methods and instruments necessary for organising library and information services
- The Ministry of Education’s working group for the development of the National Library’s activities finished its report at the beginning of 2003. The report maintained that some kind of consortium for the public libraries was needed to improve cooperation on various issues. The council of public libraries was established within the year at the central libraries’ meeting in Helsinki. The council, which is the equivalent of the Council of Research Libraries, must according to the statutes:
- promote cooperation and interplay between all public libraries
- promote cooperation with central interest groups and the rest of the library service
- represent its member libraries in issues concerning the development of the national library network
- introduce new ideas and initiatives and make suggestions for the development of activities in the libraries and in the entire national library network
- be aware of changes in conditions for the public libraries’ activities as well as for the library and information service as such and when necessary put forward suggestions in relation to such issues.
The provincial libraries have permanent representation in the council, the other public libraries each has a representative per provincial library area. The chairwoman of the council is Maija Berndtson, director of Helsinki City Library.
Barbro Wigell-Ryynänen counsellor for library affairs Ministry of Education barbro.wigell-ryynanen AT minedu.fi
Translated by Vibeke Cranfield
Swedish libraries suffer cutbacks
The National Council for Cultural Affairs recently sent a questionnaire to the county libraries. It concerned the library situation in each county, such as budget cutbacks for 2004 which have an effect on the municipal libraries, whether cutbacks are on the agenda for 2005 along with those potential areas that might be implemented. The material covers 214 out of Sweden’s 290 municipalities. Of the 214 municipalities, 95 have accounted for direct cutbacks this year. Furthermore, a number of municipalities had budgets which remained unchanged during 2004. In reality this implies cutbacks.
Other municipalities have to a certain extent been compensated with regard to increases in prices and salaries. In approximately 40 municipalities cutbacks are currently being discussed for 2005. Solutions are numerous among the libraries dealing with reduced budgets: further educational ventures for staff are put on hold, vacated appointments are withdrawn when staff are pensioned off, organisations assume management of smaller library branches, size of premises diminish, and libraries are beset by demands to increase their earnings. Reduced number of staff often involves a decrease in the libraries accessibility; 23 municipalities economise by closing branches or withdrawing the bookmobile. Thereby the dominant trend over the past decades continues; that of closing branches and merging public and school libraries.
Helena Kettner Rudberg,
Swedish National Council for Cultural Affairs
helena.rudberg AT kulturradet.se
Translated by Jonathan Pearman