Information Centre Vellamo in the town of Kotka offers archive and library services for students, researchers and a wide range of visitors interested in either maritime-related topics or local history. In Finland, the Information Centre is a unique example of collaboration, where higher education libraries and museums have joined hands.
Information Centre as part of the Maritime Centre Vellamo
Information Centre Vellamo is a joint organisation of four parties offering library and museum archive services under one roof. The four different contributors are the University of Helsinki, Palmenia Centre for Continuing Education Kotka Unit, the Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences, the Provincial Museum of Kymenlaakso, and the Maritime Museum of Finland. The Information Centre is located in an architecturally unique building and tourist attraction in Kotka, “Maritime Centre Vellamo”. The same complex also houses the Maritime Museum of Finland and the Museum of Kymenlaakso. Since its opening in 2008, Information Centre has become a well-known and popular learning environment where visitors can discover printed and digital resources as well as the archive materials of the two museums. The concept of cooperation between museums and libraries is ground-breaking in Finland.
Books, e-resources and archive materials
The Information Centre’s customers are students with all types of academic degrees, researchers of various fields, teachers and other academic staff. The centre also helps the general public in finding material suited to their interests and hobbies.
The printed collections comprise the former Maritime library collections of Kymenlaakso University of Applied Sciences, which were transferred to the Information Centre Vellamo, the Maritime Museum’s library, which is part of the National Board of Antiquities’ extensive library collection and the Museum of Kymenlaakso reference library. The collection includes some 20,000 volumes and 3,500 magazine volumes. The key topics include seafaring, maritime materials, shipbuilding, archipelagos, Kymenlaakso local history, museology and aquatic conservation. Kotka is a traditional seafaring town and there are a lot of ship crews and marine professionals living in the region. Therefore, working and retired seamen are especially happy to visit the Information Centre and borrow books on ships or maritime history. In case the customers do not find anything relevant from the printed collection, they are able to access a comprehensive selection of academic online resources that are licensed to organisations sharing the ownership of the Information Centre Vellamo.
In addition to library materials, an equally significant part of the Information Centre’s resources consist of archive materials. The core topics include Finnish commercial fleet, history of seafaring and maritime administration as well as Kymenlaakso region. The collection comprises documents, images, maps, charts, drawings/blueprints of boats and ships. In order to examine the documents in private, customers are able to book a research room for free.
Principle of one-desk-service
The one-desk service principle is at the heart of the Information Centre’s operations. Customer receive help at just one desk whether they need to find something from the two museum archives, the library’s printed collections or the online resources. A good example of one-desk service is a situation in which a student needs information on traditional wooden boat building for his thesis. The staff of the Information Centre will guide the student towards different types of resources such as image archives of the maritime museum, technical drawings in the provincial museum’s collections, printed books available in library collections as well as academic online resources (see illustration).
The museums and the scientific library located in the same building make it possible to combine library and museum archive services. The most important requirement for a well-functioning one-desk service provided collaboratively by different parties is to forget the organisational boundaries and put the customer first. Positive feedback given to the Information Centre proves that cooperation between library and museum professionals provides great results for information seekers.
Information Specialist Pekka Malvela,
Keeper Sari Mäenpää