Session E: Libraries in the Digital Age
Arja-Riitta Haarala: The Role of Libraries in Information Management in Finnish University Setting
Tampere University of Technology is the second largest university of technology Finland. It was founded as a branch of Helsinki University of Technology in 1965 but received its independence in 1972. It has grown rapidly from about 2000 students in 1970, and now has around 8000 students mostly studying engineering and other sciences. The strengths of the University are IT and materials research. The University has always had good relations with industry and other external bodies, resulting in extensive commissioned research.
The Library of the University is older because activities by the city of Tampere. A library for science and technology was founded in 1958, and was later donated to the University of Technology. The Computing Centre of the University was transformed in August 1996, with its activities being distributed between the Library, Administration of the University, and the Data Network Institute. Student computing, maintenance, operations and help desk functions were transferred to the Library. The main aim was to develop IT services as a service organisation.
The Library has practised strategic planning for some 15 years, as well as other methods of development. There has also been extensive data gathering for management and national statistical purposes, with special attention given to the training needs of staff. A number of user and use studies have been carried out.
The lack of training was a significant finding in a Study on the Arrival of Automation in Libraries (1984). A project entitled Innovative Strategies at Tampere University of Technology Library was carried out by information science students as a part of their curriculum in 1996, and its findings still have validity. Strategies, the role of explorer, and the role of intermediary have been the basis and inspiration for developing library and information services.
The second major signpost for the future was an Information Technology Vision (1991). A vision was drawn up for customers, collections and services. It was also necessary to look at the near future. These five year plans were concerned with the library system, equipment, and computer software, as well as the development of the organisation and staff. The training of staff was regarded as a key element and a measure of importance, and four stages for IT skills and competencies were defined. As a result, in the VTLS library system project over 10% of all resources was used for formal training.
Two Compass client/server bench mark studies have been carried out, in 1995 and 1997. Both the library and the computing services emerged very well, proving to be better than average. However, some improvements were suggested -- among others, the clarification of the role of IT staff, the expansion of help desk functions, and the development of IT services offered to institutes of the University.
Strategic partnership has been regarded as important when developing information strategies. In 1998 a information strategy "Käymme yhdessä ain´" (We walking together forever) was developed together with the Library, Administrative Services and academic units. A new unit to look after infrastructure services was established, and it is called IT unit. The Library looks after learning environment and is responsible for IT helpdesk, PC classrooms and student printing as well as software shop. More traditional duties include database and publishing services. One example is the Researcher´s Portfolio which integrates databases: TUT Experts, TUT Bibliography, TUT Scientific Expertise and TUT Telephone Directory. TUT Bibliography is used for the evaluation of research activities of university institutes.
The Library includes a fairly large collection of digital information material, some 3300 e-journals, 80 databases and dictionaries among others. These have been acquired together with FinELib and Nordic technical library consortium as well as own purchases. Library actively takes part in new engagements like wireless internet and smartcard projects.
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