Responsible and sustainable services

The challenges of the global situation and the infiltration of AI technologies into all industries and people's everyday lives are changing the way we do things, also in the academic library.

In the public discourse of 2023, particular recurring topics included challenges arising from global conditions and the infiltration of artificial intelligence in all sectors and people’s everyday lives. Helsinki University Library also saw a great deal of discussion on artificial intelligence, safety and security, as well as preparedness for various risks. Challenges in the operating environment affected the library operations in a number of ways, and we anticipated potential power outages as well as the effects of rising facility and data costs on our operations.

Artificial intelligence is seen primarily as a tool at the library. It reshapes working methods and offers new solutions for the development of the library’s internal operations. The advancement of AI solutions has also affected the library’s service provision in many ways. We have introduced new information retrieval applications utilising artificial intelligence, recognising our responsibilities in providing training in AI literacy. While the AI transition is technology-driven, it forces us to consider, in increasing depth, questions of ethics and ways in which artificial intelligence can be used responsibly in studying and research, specifically as an aid, and not as a substitute for critical thinking.


The highlights of 2023 at the library included all events and encounters with customers and partners. The library actively collaborated in the University community, striving to promote the most efficient use of the University’s shared resources. The collections of the Aleksanteri Institute library were transferred to those of the Main Library in Kaisa House. Other services that support studying, such as a centre for guidance, advice and counselling, and special examination facilities, were set up in the workspaces released from the library. In the autumn, preparations were also made for the renovation of Learning Centre Aleksandria. The work will begin in May 2024, and after its completion Aleksandria will host new facilities for diverse study needs.

In a joint project with the IT Centre and Research Services, a long-term preservation solution for research data was designed to supplement the University’s research data services as a whole. Principles for safer spaces at the library were drawn up together with students.

Collaboration was also carried out with national and international partners in the library sector, most actively in the development of open science services. In recent years, the costs of open access publishing have constituted a key challenge to libraries, but in 2023 we were able, for the first time, to secure even price reductions for journal package agreements negotiated with large international publishers.

When faced with the hype surrounding artificial intelligence and preparations for future challenges, it is worthwhile reminding ourselves of the basics that promote education and wellbeing, and establish order and calmness, in the middle of a complex operating environment. The library’s strengths include its easily recognisable, established and reliable services, which provide continuity and security in a constantly changing world. The library has an important role in creating a more sustainable and responsible world with the help of research-based knowledge.

In 2023, the library was again able to offer a wide range of services to support studying, research and the University community. I wish to thank the skilled and committed staff of the library for their excellent work and enthusiastic attitude.

Minna Niemi-Grundström
University Librarian