University of Helsinki
(translation Ilkka Pellikka)
The presentations have been chosen to present the multiplicity of the ongoing change in the universities but especially in their libraries. Keywords for this change are - among others - learning to learn, student-centred teaching, integration, information society, Virtual University, IT-technology, digital learning resources, networking and globalization. The presentations will be given by persons representing best practices of each sector.
In Britain the government has generously supported the developing of both digital learning resources and services, as well as the construction of modern, learning-supportive university and library locations. Britain can provide experiential knowhow to the kind of planning Finland is currently involved with. The University of Bath is included in the ranks of the high-quality universities, and there the library has for several years combined large scale IT-services with more traditional library services. The national developing center for electronic library is also located there.
In USA, teaching networks and plans for Virtual Universities have expanded rapidly. This has notably affected especially the teaching and library services of the top-ranking universities. One of them is the University of California at Berkeley, which has a cooperation agreement with University of Helsinki for the last few years. In addition to having very extensive and high standard collections (yearly budget for acquisitions about 90 million FIM ), the University has a Teaching Library providing services for students. As a guest, I had the privilege of observing the changes in the library during 1992 and 1999. (report:
Finnish universities have committed to develop network learning and to participate in the creation of a Virtual University. The motivation for this are the current changes in society and in the styles of knowledge work. A university student must gain competence in functioning in the society of the future, in using and evaluating information and knowledge published in different formats, so that she or he can produce new knowledge and services.
University of Vaasa is a young university, which is currently building a new, centralized library. It is noteworthy that the construction is guided by a vision of a Learning Resource Center, and that the library is intended to serve several educational establishments. University Of Kuopio is developing a learning environment and services for teachers and students in an effective way.
University of Helsinki is Finland's oldest and largest university, only four years younger than Harvard (1640). There are 9 faculties with about 32 000 students, plus 20 000 students in the Open University and several high-qualified libraries. A special feature is the old and extensive Undergraduate library belonging to Helsinki University (founded 1858, active for over 100 years as the Students' Union's library, having holdings of 400 000 items, of which 90 000 items are textbooks).
Contrary to many other countries, university education in Finland is free of charge. The state also supports the study material services for students. About 8-10 % of the acquisition funds have been used for student's textbooks. This means that the students use the library services from their very first university year. The quality of library services also have their effect on the study results.
During the 1990s, Helsinki university has made very great adjustments affecting teaching and research as well as the libraries. The university has currently in its use mostly very modern facilities, and also ones that have been completely renovated respecting their architectural worth in the historic center of the city. The quantity and accessibility of IT-services for students depends on the faculty; some provide excellent services, while others have more modest ones for the time being. The University aims to provide more centralized library and IT-services for each of the four campuses. The developing is still going on concerning the five faculties located in the historical center (theology, law, humanistic sciences, pedagogy, and social sciences).
These seminars are a continuity of the joint project of five university libraries (Universities of Helsinki, Jyväskylä, Vaasa, Swedish School of Economics and Business Administration, Helsinki University of Technology) Learning Resources in the Internet, financed by the Ministry of Education 1998-1999.