#ISEWLib2014 Public libraries in Helsinki

Main post: #ISEWLib2014 at the University of Helsinki Library

12 Tove tree

Wishing tree for children to record what the Moomins mean to them

14 Library garden

This public library has its own indoor garden (there are kids here, out of shot!)

15 Lost property

Making a feature of lost property

16 Nordic walking poles

You can borrow poles for Nordic walking! Image credit Veera Ristikartano

Lotta Muurinen gave us a tour of Urban Workshop, part of Helsinki Metropolitan Area LibrariesMaker Spaces are becoming an important part of Finnish public libraries.  Funding for Urban Workshop comes from city innovation fund, on a 2-year cycle.  Their equipment includes 3D printers, 3D scanner, vinyl cutter, graphics station, sewing machines, video editing, digitising stations, multimedia computers.  The venue is also available to use as a meeting place – free (naturally, this is Finland after all).

Staff at Urban Workshop help customers to do things themselves, learning as they go.  They don’t expect to keep on top of all new technology.  For the autumn, biohacking workshops are planned.

34 Veera happy taxpayer

@veeris: Lotta Muurinen presents @HelMet_kirjasto & its #urbanworkshop for #ISEWLib2014 I am one happy and proud taxpayer now!

Here’s the 3D printer in action:

35 3D printer in action

Presentation by Kari Lämsä of Helsinki City Library: From book storage to public space: why change the way we work?  Check out the full presentation – great images, and such energy.  Look out for:

36 Lunch disco

Lunch break disco in the library

Kari says this one is easy to write down, but hard to achieve.  Staff were given training in how to look available:

37 Doing nothing but being available

During rush hours, librarians walk around doing ‘nothing’ other than being available

38 Librarian as personal trainer

Librarian as personal trainer (instead of “ask a librarian”) – this is very popular

Public libraries in Finland offer free courses for people learning to use their new smartphone or tablet.  What a great way to win new customers and get people talking about how useful and relevant public libraries are today.

Transforming the library at St Hugh’s College

Today is my last day in Oxford.  This weekend I’m moving home to the north-east to start a new job at the University of Sunderland on 1st November.  So, lest we forget how St Hugh’s College Library used to look, here are some ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos…

The library then (2010)

What the library looked like in 2010

L-R from top: View of the lobby; self-issue system (no security); accumulation of students’ belongings left unattended; returns system consisted of piling up books by the office door waiting for staff to check them back in; upstairs computer and printing facilities

The library now (2012)

What the library looks like now in 2012

L-R from top: Printed spine labels using DDC23 and author/title suffix; secure item return bin; informal seating area in the lobby with recreational reading, DVDs, Living Well and other new collections; students using the group study table; students using books and computers for learning; combined printer/copier/scanner and modern computers; RFID self-service kiosk

Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this work by being a member of my library team, Library Committee, or part of the wider college and library communities in Oxford.  I’m really pleased with what we’ve achieved 🙂

Taking off

I’m at Terminal 3 at Heathrow airport, waiting for a Finnair flight to Helsinki (hope I won’t disappear into Finnair), then a train to Tampere for the IFLA information literacy conference.

I’m carrying a large tube containing a poster about 23 Things Oxford and the application of the 23 Things model in other forms of staff development/continuing professional development.
At the end of October, I will be leaving Oxford to start a new job at the University of Sunderland.  Another departure, this time involving selling a house and also finding a job for ekcragg in the north-east!  We moved south 6 years ago as newly-qualified librarians, and it’s exciting to be heading home at last!
To Finnish (ha!), here are some facts about Suomi:
  • It’s a Nordic country, but emphatically not Scandinavian
  • Joined the EU in January 1995; founder member of the Euro in 2002
  • 2006 Eurovision winners (remember Lordi?)
  • “Sauna” is pronounced “sah-oo-nah” not “saw-nuh”
  • The Kalevala is Finland’s national epic and it was a strong influence on JRR Tolkien (don’t read too much of The Lord of the Rings, it’s hobbit-forming)
  • The world Mobile Phone Throwing Championships take place in Savonlinna each year in August (shame, can’t fit it into my itinerary this visit)

Library leadership

In this recent post by Jenica Rogers, she identifies some problems in library leadership and some of the consequences:

  • We suck our hard workers dry, and can’t understand why they turn into dust in the wind.
  • We undervalue what we have in-house, and respond badly to open expressions of ambition.
  • We compensate for our perceived failings in strange and valueless ways.
  • We forget that our really remarkable new librarians are still new librarians

This term, I’ve been focussing on the development and career progression of my team members, and ways of measuring our success as a team, building on it and celebrating our accomplishments.

New leadership is coming to my organisation this season: a new Bursar next month and a new Principal in September.  I am looking forward to working with them to help to continue to develop my team and the service we provide.  The changes and potential ahead are exciting!

Developing libraries beyond web 2.0

Nick Stopforth (Newcastle Libraries) gave a fast-paced tour of technology developments on the horizon and their applications and implications for libraries.  He encouraged us to think of the opportunities and the gaps associated/filled/opened up by each.

Nick works in the public library sector, and feels that academic libraries are ahead in terms of technological change and he gains a lot of useful ideas from following them – as an academic librarian, this felt good to hear!

Hype cycle – bear this in mind when considering adopting a new technology.

Hype cycle

It can be difficult to tell where you are on the curve – he suggested that Twitter was at the ‘peak of inflated expectations’ but I think who you are and how you use a technology has a strong influence here.  For example, for me and many other librarians who use Twitter, I feel that I have reached a point in my relationship with Twitter where it really helps me do my job and network with other professionals, and I would place our use closer to the ‘plateau of productivity’.


  • Nick recommended Mick Fortune’s RFID blog
  • Similar standardisation problems as ebooks – different tools not interoperable between different systems (though ISO 28560-2 standard should help?)
  • Future: wearable RFID devices?

Context-aware computing

  • Gadgets will become more like personal companions
  • Example: TV remote control can collect data about how it is used by different people and offer recommendations for TV shows

Location-based data

  • Great advances in GPS technology
  • Proximity marketing using facial recognition uses expressions to decide which advert to display
  • Facial recognition used stealthily by Facebook (as reported in the Daily Telegraph)

Social media

  • Increasing business use has made social media more corporate
  • Google+ is the new competitor

Open source data

Augmented reality

  • Lets you know about nearby services, or combine with RFID to locate the position of a book
  • E-commerce
  • Apps for tourists

QR codes

  • Increasing use in business and advertising
  • Signposting – useful in libraries!
  • Green (paperless) ticketing
  • Dutch coinage with QR code


  • Privacy and security
  • Openness and transparency
  • Linked data – where does it go?
  • Costs and savings
  • Marketing and promotion

Other trends

  • Web traffic to mobile devices increasing
  • Rise of cloud computing
  • Ebooks and digital publishing