As a part of the implementation of the Finnish government’s programme, the Ministry of Education and Culture grants a sum of one million euros for municipalities to purchase new mobile libraries. Nine municipalities will receive the grant to support their acquisition of a new mobile library. Altogether 23 municipalities applied for the grant within the application period. The municipalities receiving the grant are Haapajärvi, Ilmajoki, Kurikka, Nurmes, Salla, Sievi, Suomussalmi, Tammela and Tornio.
The criteria for receiving the subsidy include the significance of mobile library services in the operational area, and the age of the current mobile library. Also, the development plans for mobile library services and for new service models, as well as plans for municipal cooperation were taken into account in the deliberation.
In the ministry’s press release, the Minister of Science and Culture, Annika Saarikko, emphasised the importance of mobile libraries in promoting reading and culture in Finland where geographical distances in the countryside are long. Also, Minister Saarikko highlights the social importance of mobile library services.
Mobile libraries have an important role as providers of access to library services in sparsely populated areas and in new growing areas, as they can provide library services beyond the reach of the traditional library network. With mobile libraries, municipalities can fight digital exclusion and bring digital guidance to areas where there are no permanent library buildings.
The Ministry of Finance’s 2018 report on basic services concluded that relatively speaking the biggest change in the accessibility of library services had happen in the field of mobile libraries. The number of mobile libraries has fallen steadily in the recent years. According to the latest statistics, in 2019 there were 135 mobile libraries in Finland.