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Finland Launches World's First National Electronic Library

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Photo: Finland Launches World's First National Electronic Library: Source: Unsplash
Photo: Finland Launches World's First National Electronic Library: Source: Unsplash

The National Library of Finland has unveiled a reader platform that allows residents to access electronic versions of books and magazines available in its collection. It is implemented as a separate application for smartphones and tablets and can be considered the world's first national electronic library, reports The Mayor.

Through the application, Finns can borrow electronic books, audiobooks, and digital magazines available in Finnish, Swedish, and English languages. Citizens of the country can access the digital library services for free. Upon initial registration, users are required to provide their place of residence, since access to the library is funded by local municipalities. Currently, the majority of municipalities, where 85% of the country's population resides, have joined the program — the service costs them 0.7 euros per resident. The initial funding for the program was provided by the Finnish parliament.

"The Finnish model is based on separating the platform from the reading materials. This means that materials can be chosen more freely since they are not tied to the restrictions of a specific platform. And we also control the development of applications," explains Annastiina Louhisalmi, head of the electronic library services department.

As this is a new platform, project managers do not yet know how it will evolve in the future. However, users of the application can already leave their feedback on the service and contribute to its further development.

Recall that The Gaze reported that Europol arrested four citizens of Georgia who stole over 170 rare antique books worth about 2.5 million euros from libraries across Europe. The group of criminals substituted historical editions with modern copies. Most often, these were first editions of Russian and Russian-language writers.

"In 2022 and 2023, the criminal group managed to steal rare books from national and historical libraries in the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Switzerland," according to Europol's statement.

The criminals posed as scholars to gain access to rare editions and produce "high-quality forgeries." They also "relied on a more brute-force approach" by simply tracking collections in national libraries and later breaking in and stealing books.



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