In Finland the guiding principle in public libraries is to offer free access to cultural and information sources for all irrespective of their place of residence and financial standing. The use of library collections at the library and borrowing are free of charge.
Library and information services promote:
- equal access to education and culture
- reading and art appreciation
- constant development of knowledge
- skills and citizenship skills
- lifelong learning
The Ministry of Education and Culture outlines library policy
According to the Government Programme (2011):
"The library system plays a central role in the maintenance and development of Finnish literacy and the advancement of reading as a hobby. The Government supports the development of library activity, and fosters cooperation between schools and libraries.
Libraries will be developed to meet the challenges of the information society.
The opening up of the libraries', museums' and public arts institutions' digitised material for free public access will be promoted."
The Ministry's work in the library field is governed by aims set in the Government Programme, and in:
- Finnish Public Library Policy 2015. National strategic areas of focus, which defines the direction and objectives of the activities in Finnish public libraries. It provides a foundation for proposing regulations and government financing. The purpose of the program is to update previous library programs and strategies set forth by the Ministry of Education and Culture to correspond with upcoming changes in the operations environment.
- The quality recommendation for public libraries (2011) is a tool for the self-evaluation of public libraries. It helps the Ministry of Education and Culture to support and encourage libraries to develop their operations, taking into account the rights of library users.