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Finnish libraries adapt to life under quarantine

Libraries are finding new and innovative ways in which to offer their services to citizens

  • 28. maaliskuuta 2020 10.00
  • Author Anton Stoyanov
Medium books 1617327 1280

After Finland went on lockdown due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, many services and businesses have been forced to rethink how to operate. Libraries are no exception.

With more and more people self-isolating or under quarantine, they face one key issue – boredom. Without access to many of the traditional methods of passing the time, citizens are looking for alternatives – and that’s where libraries come in.

Adapting and overcoming the present challenges

Authorities responsible for libraries across Finland quickly realized that many more people would need a good book in these times when they are forced to stay at home. That is why they rapidly moved to restructure and redesign the services they have on offer.

The most important step libraries took was to expand their own digital services – by digitalizing more books or by sharing book lists and recommendations via different social media platforms like Instagram – like the Turku city library.

For those who still want a specific book that is unavailable digitally, libraries are offering enhanced protection measures for their visitors. For example, libraries in the cities of Salla and Kuhmo are employing a novel “book in a bag” approach – employees pack previously requested books in a bag and agree a time and place for pick up by the interested party.

Meanwhile, the interest in libraries’ online services has spiked over the past week. For example, the number of online book reservations in Helsinki’s libraries increased by more than a thousand in just a few days.

Yet while these individual approaches are proving to be somewhat effective, municipalities are lobbying for a nation-wide approach that would bring together all local libraries in a single structure that is able to accommodate the needs of all Finnish citizens who are on the lookout for a good book to pass the time.

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