Were I to describe the new action plan of the University Libraries’ Network with few words, they would be cooperation, open science, change in materials, and futures thinking. FUN Finnish University Libraries’ Network held its first meeting of the year 2023 at the beginning of February, when a new action plan, prepared by the new chairman and a fresh working committee in the beginning of the year, was on the agenda. The plan sparked lively and favourable discussion at the meeting.
The action plan of the University Libraries’ Network is built on four key points: 1. promotion of open science 2. influencing in changes regarding materials 3. further development of cooperation with stakeholders, and 4. utilisation of internal cooperation for future solutions.
In addition to other services offered in libraries, the promotion of open science has been a new part of the mission of university libraries for years, and as such has been quickly addressed within the framework of FUN. The latest aspect of the action plan is the promotion of the Rights Retention strategy on a network-level in FUN’s member organisations. This requires cooperation with Unifi and university management. The work is currently at its starting stage. Similarly, many of the open science policies that have been drawn up over the past few years will be integrated into the organisations’ permanent practices during the action plan period. FUN sees a collaborative field of work here, as many of the concrete actions are taken in the university libraries themselves.
The digitalisation of materials continues to escalate along with their increasing diversity. In the current economic situation, university libraries aim to influence the pricing of materials with hopes of reducing the costs, for example, through the FinELib consortium. The low level of competition among large commercial publishers does not bode well for reducing costs. It remains to be seen how open science solutions and the resulting use of open materials will affect the general price development regarding materials. Vision of the future is currently still hazy. The number of open materials used in university-level teaching and research is still small, although there are differences between disciplines.
The Digivisio 2030 programme is currently being advanced in Finland, and university libraries are included in the work through a set of issues related to the licensing of materials. Groundwork regarding the matter has already been done in 2022, when FUN made a report on the challenges posed by the Digivision 2030 programme (see the blog post by the previous chairman, Ari Muhonen). It is essential that FUN actively participates in the discussion with the Ministry of Education and Culture, UNIFI, as well as the Digivisio programme’s steering group, in addition to advancing the development in its own organisations.
Strong stakeholder engagement will become increasingly important in the 2023–2024 period. FUN must use its networking activities to engage with its partners and ensure that the network’s visibility continues to increase. As part of strengthening the stakeholder cooperation, FUN’s communication strategy and action plan are utilised by actively communicating about cooperative activities.
The fourth key point is built on the work done for the benefit of universities. The post-pandemic period has changed the way people operate, and taking this into account, good practices regarding the development of facilities and services are shared mutually. This aims to respond to the ever-changing needs by learning from each other’s work, while also respecting the differences between organisations.
FUN actively monitors the implementation of new technologies into library work and as a network utilises the experiments of its member organizations. Among these, worth highlighting is the rapid development of artificial intelligence and the challenges it poses to the information management teaching organised by libraries. Learning and the methods of learning are also changing. Sustainable development (in Finnish) has played an important role in university activities, and libraries are also involved in this work.
FUN’s strategy period of 2021–2024 (in Finnish) will end next year, and the preparation of a new strategy will begin at the end of 2023 in the form of a joint workshop on futures thinking. The new strategy for 2025 onwards will reach its final form in 2024.
University libraries play an important role for the results and activities of universities. The mission of libraries continues to change and develop as new duties and technologies emerge. It is our wish to proactively support this work in our organisations.
Chairman of FUN
Library Director of the University of the Arts Helsinki