Nordic Economic and Business Libraries--Functions Revisited 10 Years Later
* Nordic libraries in general have been a remarkable stronghold for development in international librarianship. They have been able to offer a high level of service and developed specialized systems despite being small in comparison to libraries in many larger countries. Scandinavians are eager and active library users and libraries have been able to implement the newest technological inventions for their services. Is this the situation today and what kind of changes have taken place among Nordic economic libraries? An answer is sought by comparing the results of three surveys made during the last ten years.
The first survey of the resources and services of economic and business libraries in Nordic countries--Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden--was made in 1976, the second in 1982.[1,2] In 1987 the same study was made again to update the material and to find out what changes had occurred; e.g., how automation had affected library functions.
Sixty-eight libraries participated in the most recent (1987) survey (corresponding number for 1982 and 1976 in parentheses): 11 from Denmark (11,8); 18 from Finland (12,11); 20 from Sweden (8,11); and 17 from Norway (11,12). Iceland was also represented in the last survey with two libraries.
Questionnaires based on ISO Standard 2141, "Directories of Libraries, Information and Documentation Centers," were sent to 155 libraries owning special collections of business and economics.
The libraries chosen to receive a questionnaire were selected on the basis of information found in general guides like Guide to the Research and Special Libraries of Finland, Dansk Bibliotek Sforer, Ekonomiske Bibliotek i Norge, and Swedish Special Libraries and Documentation Centers.
For the purposes of the survey, a library was defined as an organized collection of printed and other materials staffed by enough people to provide at least 15 hours a week of collection maintenance and assistance to users. From the original survey in 1976, 23 participants were still the same in the latest round.
Only half of the answering organizations were actually selected. Although most have large collections of economics and business materials in their general collections, university libraries were excluded unless they had separate economic or business departmental libraries. Questionnaires were also sent to schools of economics, research institutes, central governmental bureaus, banks, and private companies. Libraries serving only employees of their parent organizations were, for the most part, omitted. The 1987 survey followed the same selection principles used in 1976 and in 1982, when only 42 libraries participated. The 1987 survey showed the libraries contained:
* 5,147,000 monographs (a 90 percent
increase since 1976), with an average
number of 75,700 monographs per
* 58,190 periodicals (a 47 percent
increase since 1976), with an average
number of 850 per library (950); and
* 893 newspapers, with an average of 14
titles per library.
Newspapers seem to be fairly rare material in the economic libraries. In the first survey the Scandinavian Institute of African Studies in Uppsala, Sweden, was a remarkable exception with a collection of 1,000 items. The other libraries had few material--between 14-36 titles. In the 1987 survey, Uppsala Center was not included and the average had not increased at all.
Telephone service is provided by all participants, telex in 44 percent (previously 24 percent), and telefax--which did not exist previously--in 34 percent of the libraries. The average opening time for the whole service is now 41.8 hrs/week; 10 years ago it was 38.2 hrs/week.
Participating libraries acquired most of their material in the subject areas of marketing, statistics, economics, data processing, finance, accounting, banking, and management. There still seems to be few special collections, none at all in 60 percent of the libraries--10 years ago the percentage was 62. Some special collections worth mention are the Archives of the Danish Labour Movement, parliament documents, EC documents, official publications, central banks; publications, depository collections of the UN, GATT, WHO, the International Court of Justice, or the Council of Europe. Smaller collections such as company annual reports, unpublished masters these, and American dissertations, as well as working papers of various universities, were also listed.
A considerable increase (90 percent) in the acquisition of microforms had taken place since the first survey. One quarter of the libraries had 25,000 microforms in 1976. In 1987, the number of items was 32 percent. Most of the material seems to be fiches, only 10 percent are reels. Fiche and reel collections are very strong in Finland. Another area where resources have increased considerably is audiovisual materials--records, tapes, videos, language cassettes, etc. The previous surveys indicated none of the libraries owned audiovisual materials; in 1987 the surveyed libraries, especially in Norway, indicated having more than 81,200.
The most common service offered by participating libraries were ready reference services (92 percent), interlibrary loans (95 percent), and manual literature searches (82 percent). These services existed 10 years ago much to the same extent. The next group of services consisted of more complex reference questions (73 percent) and guides (64 percent). Then came orientation programs (50 percent)--typical in a university environment--circulation of material (47 percent), routing of periodicals (31 percent), and preparing bibliographies (47 percent).
Less frequently offered services included clipping of newspaper articles, still done by nine participants; abstracting, done by four; user education, done by three; and translations, still done by one library. The small amount of libraries giving user education is surprising because it is a common service in university libraries. The figure may reflect the fact that many special libraries participated in the survey. The number of libraries not publishing their own publications decreased from 11 to seven. Eleven libraries have internal publications for their customers. Lists of acquisitions (31 libraries) and periodicals (14 libraries) are still the most common types of publications produced.
Automated operations is an areas where the most increase and development have taken place. Only seven Scandinavian economic libraries utilized them in 1976. Eleven years ago automation was used for cataloging experimentation, making union catalogs of periodicals, a database for periodical articles, routing of periodicals, and updating of a thesaurus. American databases were seldom used, although automated SDI (Selective Dissemination of Information) service had started at the Royal Technical University Library in Stockholm. The library acquired some databases on magnetic tapes and offered SDI services to all Scandinavian libraries.
By 1987, the situation had changed. Automated SDI services increased from two to nine libraries, a lot of growth percentagewise, but little in actual numbers. SDI service is probably less used by today's customers because online databases are easily available. Manually given SDI service seems to have lost its usability with a decline from 17 to eight libraries. The explanation is undoubtedly the same--customers use directly online information searches when necessary. Today's automated operations include computerization of library routines like acquisition (BILD in the Helsinki School of Economics), cataloging (Libris in Sweden, also the largest Nordic database), routing of periodicals, lending (Bibsys in Norway), and producing lists and bibliographies.
Information retrieval, word processing, and bibliographic database production are also common. Today there are some 350 Nordic databases online, and their number is increasing--100 new ones were established 1987 (while only 25 ceased to exist). Reference databases are still the largest group (176), while the factual databases number 1,217, and the trend seems to be to increase factual and full-text databases. According to Scannet Today, (14) Sweden produces the most databases (121) in the Nordic community, followed by Finland (96), Norway (85), and Denmark (75).
Use of both national and international online systems is quite usual, as indicated by 45 libraries. Practically all American and European databases are available directly in Nordic countries. The variety of systems mentioned, 50, ranged from big international vendors like ESA (European Space Agency), Dialog, SDC, Questel, Pergamon-Infoline, to smaller Scandinavian systems such as HELECON, Affarsdata, Aramis, or SOL. Altogether there are now some 120 hosts for all 350 Nordic databases. Among the 14 different programming languages mentioned, Pascal, Fortran, Cobol, and Assembler are referred to most often.
Available hardware seems to be even more varied, 30 different configurations were mentioned, quite a lot of them PCs. The same versatility prevailed with software, 40 different ones were listed. These facts indicate the lack of standardization in the area. In countries where there are now plans for common national library systems, such as Sweden and Finland, the lack of consistency will hopefully clear up during the next five years.
In Sweden, Gothenburg, and Lund, some large universities implemented the use of the same library system, American Virginia Tech Library System (VTLS), in 1987. In 1988, 20 Finnish university, special, and research libraries selected the VTLS, a venture financed by the Ministry of Education. The first unit was installed at the University of Lappland, in Rovaniemi, and other university and special libraries followed at a pace of five institutions per year. As these libraries form the backbone for all the scientific research materials in the country, a special online network similar to OCLC or RLIN is being planned.
Questions about participating in networking got very few answers in the 1976 survey. Now, there are 68 libraries in 24 different networking projects either on an international, Scandinavian, or national level.
On the Scandinavian level, the Nordic Union Catalog of Periodicals (NOSP) is one of the most common networking projects--60 percent of the surveyed librarians participated. NOSP contains some 100,000 titles, 600 participants, and 210,000 locations. Information gathered is distributed on online databases as well as microfiche, and is also available to non-participants.
LIST STAT is the newest joint project among Nordic libraries creating a database of their subject area. Others worth mention are NCOM (mass communications), BDI (libraries, documentation, and information), and PEPSY (Psychology, Educations, and Training).
Other examples of popular networking projects, although on the national level, are FINCUS-S (Union Catalog of Foreign Serials in the Research Libraries in Finland) with some 32,000 titles and 240 participants. Swedish Libris is the larges Nordic database, and is a union catalog of acquisitions of materials as well as a common cataloging source for participating libraries.
According to the 1987 survey, average number of staff was eight persons per library, including both part-time and full-time employees--meaning a decrease of two persons per library in 10 years. The number of professionals in 1987 was approximately 6.3 persons per unit, that number was previously 7.8. In general, staff sizes have decreased. It is difficult to say if the decrease is caused by actual diminishing of human resources or because the new libraries in the 1987 survey are smaller than the ones in the first two survey. Altogether, libraries participating in 1987 had 57 personnel, of whom 426 are full-time.
The Scandinavian government is very conscious about the equality of the sexes when filling governmental jobs. A recent study clearly indicated women within Nordic countries are advancing to director's posts. The number of female directors has increased from 21 in 1976 to 26 and again to 40 in 1987, an increase of 90.5 percent!
The Role of the Libraries of the Schools of Economics
The libraries in economics schools in all Nordic countries are an important part of the resources available in their subject areas (slightly less than one-third or 27 percent of the 5.1 million books on Nordic economics are in their possession). Schools of economics libraries own 27 percent of economics periodicals, 18 percent of the microforms, 19 percent of the newspapers, and employ 31 percent of the Nordic economics librarians.
There is one independent school of economics in Sweden, two in Denmark and Norway, and three in Finland. In Finland, however, the so-called national central library system has been operating since 1977. Certain libraries like that of the Helsinki School of Economics (HSE), have been given the responsibility of taking care of the central functions and services in their fields for the whole country. The responsibility means not only acquiring as wide a variety of materials as possible, but also disseminating information and documentation to the general public.
Currently, Finland has national central libraries in the fields of economics and business, medicine, statistics, humanistics, technical areas, forestry, agriculture, pedagogy, physical education, sociology, and social studies. Participants are all university libraries serving not only their own professors and students, but also other public, special, or research libraries. Sweden is planning a similar system, still uncompleted. Norway and Denmark have also some "unofficial" central libraries.
Cooperation among Nordic libraries in the fields of economics and business has existed for decades. In the 1950s, Helsinki and Stockholm libraries were exchanging foreign journal subscriptions; the schools of economics in Helsinki, Stockholm, and Bergen coordinated an exchange of reference cards about periodical articles. These small beginnings began today's extensive cooperation.
Since 1972, library directors of the schools of economics have met annually to discuss mutual projects and establish prerequisites for practical cooperation. All cooperation requires some commonly accepted standards, interest in sharing resources and services, and planning a policy acceptable for all participants.
In traditional forms the cooperation existed in projects like Lisbet, a current listing of contents of international economic and business periodicals edited by the Norwegian School of Economics. List Econ is an irregular union list of economic periodicals in 70 Scandinavian libraries. The lastest edition came out in Spring 1983, and following information has been included in NOSP databases only. A special series of Information Handbooks From Libraries of the Nordic Schools of Economics was started; the series included sections on personnel administration, transportation, automatic data processing, and export markets. A Survey of Grey Literature in the fields of economics, business, and energy in Scandinavian libraries was published in the beginning of the 1980s.
Economic and Business Databases
Cooperation today stresses more computer-based projects like SCANP, Scandinavian Periodicals In Index in Economic and Business, where the original participants were libraries in Aarhus, Bergen, and Helsinki. Selection principles for inclusion of material, common cataloging rules, a common thesaurus, and the division of work were problems that were solved before the project actually started. The material became publicly available in Scandinavia in 1978 both in printed and online form.
Today SCANP is well established, and the number of references in the database as of April 1989 is 27,500. Half of the references are in Swedish, 12 percent are in English. The search languages are both English and Finnish. Journal articles as well as monographs are part of a university series included in this database, material which is difficult to get and seldom well known outside the institution. Indexers for the project have biennial meetings to discuss the thesaurus and other common problems. There are now five participants as both libraries of Stockholm and Copenhagen schools of economics have joined the project. Material has been collected in the past four years annually in various formats--punched tapes, punched cards, magnetic tapes, and diskettes. The fairly sophisticated retrieval language is developed by the library of the Helsinki School of Economics (HSE).
The Nordic SCANNET network was in existence until Fall 1983. This physical, subsidized system made the use of databases fairly economical and easy for the different customers in all Scandinavian countries. Today, the national Post and Telegraph Companies (PTTs) in each country provide similar networks for national and international usage. Online users can also use the SCANP database through DIANE EURONET and American TYMET.
Another economic and business database, BILD (Bibliographic Index of Library Documents), has been in existence since 1980. As base material, it has the acquisitions of HSE, but it is a cooperative network on the national level. Some other Finnish economic libraries have been partners in the project since the beginning of 1983. They use the same indexing system for their material--an adaptation of the UDC, Universal or English keywords connected with UDC, a national cataloging system based on AACR2, and a retrieval language common with all HELECON databases.
BILD is an inhouse network system with modules of acquisition, cataloging, budget control, retrieval of references, and lending material. Input is either primary--done for the first time for the database--or secondary, when somebody else has already done the input--and the others only use the information available for their own acquisitions or cataloging. The intention has been to create a union catalog of economic and business literature for some Finnish and Scandinavian libraries. Some experimental tapes for materials of the Stockholm and Aarhus schools of economics have been put into the BILD database.
The databases SCANP and BILD, the International Bibliography of the Social Sciences, Economics, and Sociology (IBS), SCIMP--European Index of Management Periodicals, and THES--These of Economics and Business in Finland, are all cooperative projects where database production is done at HSE under the general name of HELECON databases. FINP, Finnish Periodicals Index in Economics and Business, and KAUPPIS are the only single source produced databases in the system. All of these are bibliographic databases, SCIMP with some abstracts. The newest KAUPPIS--a database of commercial newspapers--was added to HELECON in 1988 and has full-text searching possibilities. Overall, Helsinki has 29 cooperative partners in various European countries contributing to the enlargement and updating of HELECON databases.
HSE's library, one of the first economic libraries in Scandinavia, got its own computer in 1984. Consequently, it has excellent technical resources. HSE also has a long history--more than 20 years--of using ADP in library functions. The first national union catalog of economic and business periodicals was produced with the help of a computer in 1966. The present hardware is Hewlett Packard 3000/68, a medium-sized computer with a main memory of 7 MB, a disc space of 1.6 GB, and a maximum number of simultaneous users around 80.
Cooperation evidently stresses the importance of indexing. While all the schools of economics do use the UDC classification, the system gives possibilities for personal interpretations so the UDC system is the same only in principle.
Therefore, a project organized by Aarhus is creating a common UDC-based classification in combination with fixed keywords. The result is a compromise which unfortunately is not yet in common use.
At the moment there are several thesauri: SCANP/SCIMP, BILD/FINP/THES, and IBS. SCANP/SCIMP thesaurus has English keywords and the usual thesaurus structure with broader, narrower, and related terms. BILD/FINP/THES thesaurus has Finnish and English keywords connected with fixed UDC classification numbers. IBS thesaurus  is an abbreviated and updated version of the OECD Macrothesaurus applied to the IBS database which is in experimental use at HSE for Scandinavia. The first two thesauri are "living ones" continually updated by suggestions from the participants.
User education is another area where the schools of economics have cooperated. There have been several training sessions organized by the different libraries about, for example, the databases. At HSE, regular courses are given on how to use HELECON databases for students as well as paying customers. Nordinfo has partly financed the functions described. Set up by the Nordic Council of Ministers, Nordinfo promotes Nordic cooperation among the research library system and scientific information and documentation. Nordinfo has provided preliminary funding for all the projects mentioned except LISBET. A large amount of the financing, however, is continually provided by the organizations participating in the projects.
The primary goal, service to their universities as well as the business community in general, is the same for all the schools of economic's libraries. Similarity in economic conditions, common cultural heritage, history, and a partly common language have undoubtedly made the cooperation easier than in the 70s when cooperation over national borders was not so common.
The role of national material published in the area of economics and business has been less important for research and study partly because it is small in comparison to the whole of the national material--in Finland only 10 percent annually. The percentage shows that materials from other countries are used to a great extent, and interlibrary loans are a big activity. Recent studies show that the use of foreign--whether Scandinavian or international--online services is especially large in Finnish business and company libraries while the national databanks are more used in university libraries. Consequently, the Scandinavian libraries are especially interested in international cooperation in its various forms.
Development in libraries investigated is encouraging. Technical equipment and systems used are well-advanced, but unfortunately not standardized. This situation will continue to improve--at least in Finland--in the next five years as the government-sponsored system VLTS is used by main university, research, and special libraries. Collections, services, variety of materials offered, and cooperation through networks have grown. Online use of national and foreign databases has become possible and quite popular leaving SDI services far behind. Nordic database creation has also come into existence since the first survey.
Perhaps a typical feature in their production has been cooperation, a Scandinavian phenomenon used in other areas of life as well. Now there are some 350 Nordic databases and their use in an everyday function in major special libraries. The only surprising factor is the slight decrease of personnel/library staff, even if libraries offer larger amounts of services than earlier.
Ruokonen, K. "Survey of Economic and Business Libraries in Scandinavia," UNESCO Bulletin for Libraries 5 pp. 277-285 (1977). Ruokonen, K. Directory of Economic Libraries in Scandinavia. Helsinki, 1976. 105p. Ruokonen, K. and B. Rinne. Economic and Business Libraries in Scandinavia. Helsinki, 1982. 92p. Lisbet. Lopende Innholdsfortegelse i Bedriftssokonomiske Tidskrift. Bergen: Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration. Econ List 1982. List of Periodicals in the Fields of Economics, Trade, Economic Geography and International Statistics in Nordic Libraries. Red. av Inger Weidling: Stockholm, 1983. 89p. Bergdahl, B. Grey Material--a Scandinavian View. Stockholm: 1983. 11p. SCANP. Scandinavian Periodicals Index in Economics and Business. Helsinki School of Economics in Cooperation with Aarhus School of Business Administration Library, Copenhagen School of Economics and Business Administration Library, Stockholm School of Economics Library: 1978. Ruokonen, K. BILD, Integrated Online System for Economic and Business Libraries. TIDSKRIFT FOR DOKUMENTATION 1981. p. 62-67. SCANP/SCIMP Search Aid Thesaurus 7 Helsinki: 1987. 213p. BILD/FINP/THES Thesaurus. Helsinki: 1987. 198p. IBS Thesaurus. Helsinki: 1982. 223p. Lehti, M. and P. Eskola. Suorakayttoisten tiedonhakujarjestelmien kaytto Suomessa 1985. Espoo 1987. 76p.
Kyllikki Ruokonen is director, Information Resources, at the Helsinki School of Economics Library.…