The Finnish Parliament approved on Monday 21 December 2020 an appropriation of 1 000 000 euros for libraries to develop means to strengthen democracy and better social dialogue. Currently, the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra is running a project where six libraries are piloting ways to further libraries role as stronger platforms for democracy work and societal dialogue both online and in their physical premises. The Sitra’s project runs until the summer 2021, and the newly approved appropriation is directed to support libraries democracy work after the pilot project has finished.
In the current pilot project, six libraries are testing different methods to promote democracy, participation, and social dialogue. The participating libraries are Oulu, Turku, Pietarsaari, Imatra, Inari, and Mäntyharju public libraries. The participants come from all over the country and represent different sized municipalities.
The project covers democracy work on all levels from local to regional and national, as well as to EU level. Having a wide range in the sizes and geographical locations of the participating municipalities, the pilot project enables to test ways to promote dialogue and democracy in small communities as well as extending the scope to bigger cities and to international level. Also different segments of the population are taken into account in the different projects.
Promoting democracy, social dialogue, and active citizenship is in the core of public libraries' work, and it is written as an objective of the current Public Libraries Act. The newly budgeted 1 000 000 euros will enable libraries to implement models developed in the Sitra’s pilot project as well as to further develop their own democracy work.