Library legislation

Library decree

The library act is specified by Decree (406/2013) defining the tasks of the Public Central Library and regional libraries and its amendment specifies the qualifications of public library personnel.

Library Act 904/1998
(As amended up to 1709/2009)

Chapter 1. Objectives 

Section 1
This Act provides for the library and information services of municipal public libraries and the promotion of these services both nationally and regionally.

Section 2
1. The objective of the library and information services provided by public libraries shall be to promote equal opportunities for citizens to pursue personal cultivation, literary and cultural interests, continuous development of knowledge, personal skills and civic skills, internationalization, and lifelong learning.
2. Library activities shall also aim at promoting the development of virtual and interactive network services and their educational and cultural contents.

Chapter 2. Provision of library and information services

Section 3
1. The local authority shall be responsible for arranging the library and information services referred to in this Act.
2. The local authority may provide the library and information services independently, or partly or totally in collaboration with other local authorities, or in any other way. The local authority shall be responsible for the conformity of the services with this Act.
3. Library users shall have access to library and information personnel, and to continually renewing library material and equipment.
4. In a bilingual municipality, the needs of both language groups shall be taken into consideration on equal grounds.
5. In the municipalities of the Saami home area, the needs of both the Saami and the Finnish speaking population groups shall be taken into consideration on equal grounds.

Chapter 3. The library and information service network

Section 4
1. A public library shall operate in cooperation with other public libraries, with research libraries and with libraries in educational establishments as part of the national and international network of library and information services.
2. The libraries acting as the central library for public libraries and as provincial libraries complement the services of public libraries.
3. The central library for public libraries is a public library in a municipality designated by the competent Ministry with the consent of the local authority. Its operating area shall be the whole country.
4. A provincial library is a public library in a municipality designated by the competent Ministry with the consent of the local authority. The operating area shall be determined by the competent Ministry.
5. Provisions on the tasks of the central library and the provincial library shall be enacted by Decree. The competent Ministry may, after consulting the local authority, cancel the designation as central library or as pro- vincial library.

Chapter 4. Free library services

Section 5
1. The use of the library's own collections within the library and borrowing from the collections shall be free of charge.
2. Inter-library loans issued by the central library and by the provincial libraries to public libraries shall be free of charge.
3. For other library transactions the local authority may charge a fee amounting to the prime cost of the transaction at the most.
4. For a specific reason, the fee which would otherwise be fixed to amount to the prime cost may exceed this.

Chapter 5. Evaluation

Section 6
1. The local authority shall evaluate the library and information service it provides.
2. The purpose of the evaluation is to improve access to library and information services and to promote their development. The evaluation shall monitor the provision of the library and information services and the quality and cost-effectiveness of the services.
3. The decision on a national evaluation and on national participation in an international evaluation shall be made by the Ministry of Education, which shall be responsible for carrying out the evaluation together with the centres for economic development, transport and the environment. The local authority shall contribute to the evaluation referred to in this subsection. (Amendment 1449/2009)
4. Salient findings of the evaluation shall be made public.

Chapter 6. State administration of library and information services

Section 7
(Amendment 1449/2009)
The Ministry of Education shall be the national administrative authority for library and information services. The centre for economic development, transport and the environment shall be the administering regional state authority. Further provisions concerning the tasks of the centres for economic development, transport and the environment shall be enacted by Government Decree.

Chapter 7. Miscellaneous provisions

Section 8
1. The library system shall have a sufficient number of qualified personnel trained in library and information services and other staff.
2. Provisions on the qualification requirements for library staff shall be enacted by Decree.
3. For a specific reason, the competent Ministry may grant exemption from the formal qualification requirements.

Section 9 (Amendment 1709/2009)
1. The local authority shall receive government transfers towards the operating costs of the library as provided in the Act on government transfers towards local basic services (1704/2009).
2. The local authority shall receive discretionary government grants for operating the central library for public libraries and a provincial library and for the establishment and renovation of a library as provided in the Act on the Financing of Education and Culture (1705/2009). An establishment project may also be the acquisition of a mobile library unit.
3. Discretionary government subsidy may also be granted to a local authority or service provider for performing a special task assigned to it.

Section 10
1. The library may issue library rules containing regulations on the use of the library and the rights and duties of the library user.
2. A fee commensurate with the infringement, which is set by the local authority, shall be charged for the breach of the library rules.

Section 11
Further provisions on the application of this Act shall be issued by Decree.

Chapter 8. Entry into force

Section 12
1. This Act shall come into force on the 1st of January 1999.