FUN has returned from summer holidays. The work started in mid-August when FUN organized an RRS webinar where experts could exchange ideas about the current Rights Retention Strategy (RRS). FUN’s working committee met on August 22nd, when it was decided, among other things, to establish a working group for the preparation of FUN’s Rights Retention strategy. Other topical issues from the beginning of autumn are the upcoming FUN’s meeting on September 11th and commenting on the proposed funding model for domestic open science journals. Also, sustainable development and FinELib are on top of the list.
FUN wishes you a great start for the new academic year!
Over the spring week of 8.-11.5., I had the pleasure of being accepted into FUN Finnish University Libraries’ Network’s staff visit program, with the University of Eastern Finland’s Joensuu campus as my destination. I had been mulling over the idea of getting to know another university library’s practices and facilities for a while now, especially from the perspective of library collections. My superior approved the request, and the head of services Marja Maijala welcomed me to UEF right away, the very next day after I had contacted her. The management at UEF Library had processed my request swiftly.
Susanna Parikka and Toni Raja-Hanhela, the library director and the head of services at Lapland University Consortium Library respectively, instructed me to memorise any good practices to be adapted into our own library. While the libraries have much in common, the UEF Library serves a greater quantity of customers that the LUC library, which also translates to resource differences.
Regarding collection services, it was interesting to familiarise with the organisation of acquisition. Learning how acquisitions made through different intermediaries (Gobi and Delbanco) and how open access materials were taken into Alma was also intriguing. UEF Library has acquired many such collections/services that have also been requested from us. In addition to learning about the electronic legal deposit copies in the main library, I was also taken to see the separate legal deposit collection in Joensuu.
I was also introduced with the library’s customer service, communications, and the organisation. The new customer and staff facilities had their share of neat solutions, for example, the service point for digital services (Oppari and Servicedesk) that is integrated into the library facilities. The signs in the library are modern and clear, e.g., there is facility map that displays areas by their sound level, a monitor that shows available computer desks, and tapes on the floor that guide customers to the service desks of the library, Oppari, and Servicedesk respectively.
My warm thanks to the Joensuu staff for their kind welcome. Special thanks got to the head of services Riitta Porkka, who was kind enough to grant me her own and her subordinates’ work time for the introduction of collection services, as well as to all those who managed to spare a moment to tell me about their jobs and the library activities. This was all made possible thank to the library director Ari Muhonen and the FUN network. Finally, enormous thanks to Marja Maijala (my friend all the way from when we were studying), who planned a program for the visit, introduced me to the staff, invited me in and took me to the movies, in addition to looking out for me in general.
Outi Vaattovaara Information Specialist Lapland University Consortium Library
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.
Tommi Harju Chairman of FUN Library Director of the University of the Arts Helsinki
The seemingly fast-paced development of artificial intelligence software has been a topic of much discussion in both mainstream media as well as the internal channels of individual institutes. Linked below is an interesting and thorough insight into the workings of the ChatGPT chatbot from the perspective of library information specialists, written by Maarit Putous and Kirsi Salmi from the University of Eastern Finland Library. (The main text is in Finnish, but an English summary can be found below.)
The purpose of the Digivisio 2030 project is to create an ecosystem of learning that is based on digital services, one that would be available to all learners regardless of their previous background. The project will create a platform that allows learners to complete their studies continuously and across higher education boundaries.
The success of this project will open new opportunities for continuous learning through open education offering. Higher education students can choose courses from other higher education institutions and include them in their own study modules.
Open learning significantly increases the volume of studying. University libraries are concerned about the equal distribution of learning materials to all learners regardless of time and place.
Typically, around a third of higher education course literature consists of e-books, which enable studying anywhere at any time, and thus are in themselves suitable material for remote learning. However, printed material is not suitable for this kind of studying, because the students’ local libraries are not often equipped with sufficient amounts of course materials.
The use of licensed electronic material requires that the materials are only available to the persons covered by specific agreements. Digivisio entails the idea that learners can take individual courses either from a higher education institute’s course offering or from the Open University. In this case, it should be ensured that the individual learner can access to the learning material required for that one course, but also that they will not have access to all the other material licensed by the higher education institution. The technical aspects of this are very difficult to implement.
One option is to obtain national licences for electronic materials. However, the expenses of such licensing make the acquisition practically impossible.
The solution can be found in open access electronic materials, which are available to everyone, regardless of time and place. They are also suitable for mass courses since the number of users is not limited in any way.
The problem with open educational resources is their production, storage, and findability. Many teachers are required to find new learning materials to replace the printed and licensed materials currently in use and to adapt their teaching around these new materials. It is possible that teachers will see this as a restriction on their freedom to choose their own teaching methods.. However, this could also be considered a part of the revolution brought by digital pedagogy.
The issues of storage and implementation regarding open educational resources must also be resolved. Many higher education institutions have their own publication archives, in which open educational resources can also be stored. There are also national (e.g. the Library of Open Educational Resources, aoe.fi) and international solutions.
The problem with the placement of educational resources into publication archives may be their quality, as archives do not usually feature a quality control of any kind. Teachers must then examine for themselves whether the material introduced to them is suitable for educational purposes.
Open educational resources offer a variety of opportunities for open education. However, their widespread use requires a change in the mental landscape of teachers, which is a time-consuming process. As part of the revolution of digital pedagogy, this could become possible.
Ari Muhonen Chairman of FUN Library Director University of Eastern Finland Library
The Ministry of Education and Culture, FUN Finnish University Libraries’ Network, the Helsinki University Library, the Academy of Finland, and CSC – IT Center for Science will organize a seminar on bibliometrics on 12 April 2022.
The themes of the event this year are knowledge ecosystems and responsible evaluation. The seminar is intended for all people working with e.g. bibliometrics, research evaluation, and research administration.
Parts of the seminar will be in English and parts in Finnish.
The seminar is held at Minerva Plaza in Helsinki and will be streamed online.
FUN’s anniversary year culminated in a 25th year seminar held in Jyväskylä on the theme of FUN visibility. The opportunity to meet people face to face was highly anticipated. Due to the COVID-19, the maximum number of people in the seminar room was limited to 90 people, and due to the COVID-19, the number of participants was less than half of that.
The 25th year celebration, which took place in exceptional circumstances, was held with coffee, meetings, and interesting speeches. Keijo Hämäläinen, Chairman of the Rectors’ Council of Finnish Universities UNIFI and Rector of the University of Jyväskylä, stated the importance of collective university networks. These networks have great added value to the university’s operations. Universities have sprung up around libraries to produce new knowledge and pass it on to new generations. Among the challenges for the future, he highlighted, among other things, the government’s goal of raising 50 percent of the age group to a university degree. How does the library respond to a challenge that, in addition to a vastly growing number of students, is made up of an increasingly diverse group of students, from different languages and cultures?
Atte Jääskeläinen, Director General of Ministry of Education and Culture, pointed out that it is worth moving towards responsible researcher evaluation, where the content is evaluated instead of the channel. As well as towards faster publishing, using publishing platforms and the scientific community’s own responsible channels. Finnish research is not competitive without transparency. The plight of domestic scientific publishing should also be resolved and any ideas in this regard are welcome.
The meritorious speech of Library Director emerita Päivi Kytömäki pointed out how in its history SYN/FUN has often been on the crest of a wave in highlighting and promoting issues that are important for higher education and research. Examples are FinELib, teaching information literacy, evaluating publications and open publishing. A summary of FUN’s 25-year history, compiled by Päivi Kytömäki, was displayed on the screen in the seminar hall’s lobby.
Aleksi Sandroos, Vice President of National Union of University Students in Finland, shed light on the student’s perspective on the future of university libraries. He believes that university libraries will always be needed in the future, although they can be much more than mere physical space. The university library of the future enables work regardless of time and place, is fast and free of charge, and considers different people and their way of working by offering a wide range of services. Young people want to relocate to their study locations, where university libraries are comfortable, bright, relaxed, enabling people to work together, and are equipped with cafés. Customizable facilities and efficient use of them promote development.
Mauri Pekkarinen, a busy MEP, shared his views of the future of science in Europe via Teams from Brussels. Science is a driver and enabler of many of the EU’s current efforts. The EU has set several goals in various contexts to increase funding for the science and RDI sector, but these have not yet come true, and Europe is increasingly lagging behind the US, Japan, and China. Science should be independent and self-governing, but exploiting its results is a fierce race between states.
The EU is now opening various bottlenecks for particularly innovative projects and applications, and the old 3 percent target is being re-committed. The internal market for research, the prioritization of RDI investment, access to top-level infrastructure for researchers and their mobility will be improved. Open sciences essential and has a wider impact on the construction of civilization.
The researcher’s perspective concluded the presentations. Petri Karonen, professor of Finnish history, considered the future of historical research. In historical research, everything is related to everything. An interesting aspect emerged from digitalization and digitization: is research really focused on the right things? Databases and bibliometrics are also not just right and good – research is hampered by, for example, double and triple records, emphasis, and unethical use of information. Digitization also increases the manipulation and misuse of information, making source criticism skills even more important. The differentiation of publishing platforms continues, and open access publishing will become the norm. Social impact must not be forgotten either. Publishing in Finnish and Swedish must be drastically be increased! And above and beyond everything are the resources. What resources will be used to reform everything open?
At the end of the seminar, led by FUN’s chairman Ari Muhonen, the glasses were raised, and the food and good company were enjoyed by the landscape windows in the Harju ridge landscape softened by the slowly falling snow.
Susanna Parikka Library Director University of Lapland
The Finnish University Libraries’ Network FUN celebrates its quarter of a century by going straight to the issue, its strategy, and opening its three themes in three webinars – COVID-19 will show if we can get to the seminar in the autumn.
In the second webinar of the series on May 20th FUN Experiment the theme was addressed from three different perspectives. The perspective of an active chamber musician and an AI researcher, the scientific history perspective of a top Open access developer, and the perspective of a Citizen Science pioneer.
Experiments and the importance of communication combined the performances.
The Netherlands, Denmark and Finland are all at the forefront as library countries.
Cynthia Liem spoke about the ongoing Future Library Lab project, coordinated by Delft University of Technology and the National Library of the Netherlands. They experiment and throw themselves into new things, organizing encounters between customers, librarians, researchers and new technology, Future Libraries Lab.
The needs of the customers were also considered – the artificial intelligence researcher is also a trained active pianist and from this perspective, the presentation of the information needs was interesting. According to Cynthia Liem, researchers usually use the library only if they cannot find what they are looking for. This could be helped by both increasing discussion with researchers and increasing library marketing. In general, libraries should tell more about research services so that researchers can be involved. In particular, the library could help researchers by making the researcher’s work more visible and accessible than the researcher themselves can ever do, said Cynthia Liem. Libraries could try to organize open discussion moments for researchers – they could talk about their own work and the library could talk about their own work for the benefit of researchers.
The power of different performances is to open new angles of entry into one’s own thinking. The Future Libraries Lab project also considers e.g. how AI could help open materials and how libraries can continue their search for the future. The goal is to bring out different perspectives so that everyone can get out of their own bubble. In a way, this was also highlighted by Janne-Tuomas Seppänen’s performance, which was a story-time journey into the decisive moments in the history of scientific communication – the development of development can depend on a small coincidence. Academic libraries would need to be well informed about what is going on in their own university research and what is coming.
The communication with others and the experimental mindset came up also in a presentation by Thomas Kaarsted, a Deputy Library Director, University Library of Southern Denmark, who shed extensively light on citizen science. He has specialized in it and has also promoted it for years. The decisive factor in the promotion of citizen science at the University of Southern Denmark in Odense, too, had been making various light experiments and finding a connection with the faculties.
We celebrate the 25th anniversary of FUN Finnish University Libraries’ Network during this exceptional period in the form of webinars. The topic of the first webinar was FUN Impact in accordance with one aspect of FUN’s strategy.
Lynn Silipigni Connaway, OCLC’s Director of Library Trends and User Research, demonstrated the topic in her presentation “Where are we Going and What do we do Next? Demonstrating Value and Impact of Academic Libraries in Uncertain Times”. The subject is very topical. Over the past year, many libraries have had to rethink their operations and demonstrate their impact and effectiveness in the midst of a pandemic. Libraries have been closed for some time, and are still not in normal form of operation.
Silipigni Connaway’s presentation based on her research Academic Library Impact: Improving Practice and Essential Areas to Research (2017). In addition to a literature review, the extensive study included interviews with university management, such as provosts. The areas related to the effectiveness of libraries were service, learning support, collaboration and communication.
An important manifestation of the impact of the library was the increase in critical skills in the world of fake news, which at the time of publication of this study (2017) was only raising its head and expanding to wild proportions in the United States. Impact, according to Silipigni Connaway, must also be produced by visualizing achievements and various metrics. Adding data as part of the data collected by the university is very important, and I dare say that in many Finnish universities this is something we already do quite well.
In assessing impact, a picture speaks more than a thousand words, as the phrase says. The impact of the library can also be improved by cooperating in many directions from within the library. By expanding to work closely with your own university administration, researchers, teachers, and students, and increasingly cooperating outside of the university, we can achieve a fundamentality of action. The involvement of different groups in the planning of library operations and facilities is also becoming increasingly important, as university’s facilities are condensed and renovated. In many ways, it is conceivable that the impact and significance of the library in the future will serve as a partner in achieving the university’s strategic goals.
Tommi Harju Library Director University of the Arts Helsinki
Ari Muhonen, the director of Jyväskylä University’s Open Science Centre, has been elected as FUN’s next chair for the term 2021-2022.
Earlier in his career, Ari has worked as the director of University of Helsinki’s Viikki Campus Library, as well as the head librarian at Aalto University and Helsinki University of Technology. Ari is also an experienced author. Ari previously served as the chair of FUN’s predecessor, Council for Finnish University Libraries, for the term 2005-2006.