The changing library

Trends and visions for future libraries
Graduate work, management specialist professional degree by Kari Lämsä, Johtamistaidon Opisto, 12 March 2003

In his report, Kari Lämsä looks at the elements which must be taken into consideration as new libraries are being planned for changing patrons and changing information.

While describing the clientele and their new expectations, Mr. Lämsä states that libraries have more and more patrons who do not come to borrow books. They come to read e-mail, to scan pictures, to meet their friends, to read magazines and to have a cup of coffee. To these people, the library is a place to visit between school and home, a place where one can do, learn, and enjoy things at one’s leisure.

Kari Lämsä not only describes the changes which have taken place in the clientele, but also new types of communities and their needs. In modern society, traditional entities, such as the family and the work community, have parallel interest groups, such as those which have been formed around various hobbies, opinions and aspects of culture and entertainment. Communication within these groups takes place in real-time on a comprehensive scale. This is achieved with the help of modern technology.

Additionally, the search for, and use of, information has become more social. Formerly, the search for job opportunities, or for places of study, was a lonely business of reading the newspaper in the morning. Nowadays, searches for various options are carried out on the Internet, and they are then studied and compared among friends.

A sense of togetherness is evident at work, in studies and during leisure time. Work is carried out in teams, studying is done within groups, while leisure activities are performed in the company of others. All of this is evident in the increasing demand for group-work facilities and auditoriums.

Library facilities must be designed for versatility. Both furniture and technical equipment should be mobile components which can be combined in various ways. Their features can be altered according to the needs of those who use them at any given time.

Patrons will no longer be using work stations only; instead they have access to entire work modules and learning environments. In the future, the patrons themselves will create a work environment to suit their own needs. For example, a magazine/book rack, a table for a scanner, a laptop and other technical equipment may be added to a work station by combining furniture. Several work modules can also be linked together for group work.

Both Antti Lassila’s and Kari Lämsä’s graduate works are currently available in Finnish only. An English PowerPoint presentation of Kari Lämsä’s work is available for reference at

Translation by Turun Täyskäännös Oy

Library Director in Helsinki, 1987-2013