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167 1 5 FinELib: AN IMPORTANT INFRASTRUCTURE FOR RESEARCH Kristiina Hormia-Poutanen and Paula Mikkonen Activation and establishment of the FinELib Consortium’s operations In 1997, the Ministry of Education launched FinELib, the National Electronic Library, in accordance with the Government’s Information Society Programme. The purpose of its activities during its first years of operation was to support higher education, research and learning in Finland. The basic goals of FinELib were to increase the amount of electronic information available to users, improve information retrieval from the Internet and develop a graphical user interface providing access to heterogeneous information resources available to users from various sources. The main goals have been stated in the vision of the Consortium. The FinELib Consortium is a partner in ensuring the international pole position of Finnish science, research and teaching. The Consortium and its service unit also collaborate to anticipate customers’ needs. The service unit develops flexible service solutions and is an active national and international strategic partner. The work of the FinELib service unit is based on national and international co-operation and continuous development. To facilitate the attainment of the National Electronic Library Programme’s goals, the FinELib Consortium, consisting of all the universities in Finland, was formed. For the period 1997-1999, its activities were of a project nature. From 2000 onwards, its operations have become a standard part of the services provided by the National Library of Finland. During the first years of operation, the principles guiding these activities – covering such topics as licensing policy, share of central funding, selection of resources to be licensed, development activities and cooperation with the library network – were formed (Hormia-Poutanen, 2002). In 2002, FinELib was evaluated at the behest of the Finnish Higher Education Evaluation Council. The international assessment group’s report “Knowledge Society in Progress; Evaluation of the Finnish Electronic Library – FinELib” was published in the spring of 2003 (Varis & Saari, 2003). The assessment demonstrated that FinELib had satisfactorily attained its stated goals, and that it enjoyed a solid reputation among its libraries. The assessment group targeted its recommendations for further action to the Ministry of Education, FinELib and libraries. One of the most important recommendations was the preparation of a medium-term strategy focusing on the confluences with national information society policies. Attention was also paid to the tailoring of services, as well as BPDG_opmaak_12072010.indd 167 13/07/10 11:51 Kristiina Hormia-Poutanen and Paula Mikkonen 168 the development of cooperative mechanisms and communications. The next assessment of the National Library of Finland will take place in 2010. Steering mechanism and strategy of the FinELib Consortium Today(2009),FinELibisaconsortiumconsistingof108members.AllFinnishuniversities, polytechnics and public libraries, as well as 39 research institutes and special libraries, belong to it [the FinELib Consortium]. The FinELib Consortium acquires international and domestic electronic journal and book packages, reference works and databases to support research, teaching and learning, and promotes their availability and use through a national search interface (Nelli portal). The FinELib Service Unit negotiates licence agreements centrally on behalf of its member organizations. The FinELib Service Unit is part of the range of services provided to libraries by the National Library of Finland. The main principles guiding the management of the consortium have been defined in the Memorandum of Understanding. The responsibilities of the National Library as the service provider and the consortium’s member organizations as the customers have been defined in service agreements which cover the licensing of e-resources and the maintenance of the national information retrieval portal Nelli. After the initial goals of FinELib were achieved, a strategy extending to the year 2015 was formulated (FinELib Strategy 2007–2015). FinELib has five strategic aims: meeting the service needs of customers, ensuring the availability of information, applying innovative technologies, fostering recognition and utilizing high-level expertise. The strategies specified in the second strategic term already underway have significantly boosted the effectiveness of the Consortium’s operational planning, direction and reporting. The concrete yearly actions based on long-term strategic aims are defined in the annual Action Plans (FinELib Action Plan, 2009) approved by the Steering Committee and the Consortium. Past Consortium actions are regularly reported in the annual overview report (FinELib Annual Report, 2008). Libraries in Finland are used to working within their own library sector, and funding is also allocated to each sector separately. FinELib is one of the first programmes where different types of organizations are working closely to exploit the synergetic benefits. Because the FinELib Consortium consists of different...


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