Nordic Economic and Business Libraries - Functions Revisited 10 Years Later

By Ruokonen, Kyllikki | Special Libraries, Winter 1990 | Go to article overview

Nordic Economic and Business Libraries - Functions Revisited 10 Years Later


Ruokonen, Kyllikki, Special Libraries


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.

Background Statistics

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.[3]

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

library (65,000);

* 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. …

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