Aiming for satisfied and happy customers
The director of the university’s library, Ari Muhonen, is pleased to say that his new job at the University of Eastern Finland since this summer is the right place for him at this stage of life.
“Even though I’m not thinking about my retirement years yet, it’s still clear to me that this will be the last job in my career. This job offers just the right amount of challenges, new targets of interests and diversity. In addition, I already have networks and contacts in Joensuu, so it feels like moving to my hometown.”
Typically, Muhonen has changed jobs every 7–10 years or so.
“At that point, I have usually felt like I have given all I can to that job and it is time to learn something new. The thing that is especially pulling me to eastern Finland is health sciences, as this is the first university environment in which I will have the opportunity to explore that field.”
And it doesn’t hurt that Muhonen’s wife’s family is from Joensuu and, in his own words, “we have been in Joensuu for all the parties and gatherings for the last 35 years.”
Muhonen’s last position before Joensuu was at the University of Jyväskylä Open Science Centre. Before that, he worked as director at the University of Helsinki Viikki Campus Library and as chief librarian at the Helsinki University of Technology and Aalto University.
More than the customer asks
“The mission has remained the same throughout the history of libraries: to acquire and classify materials and lend them to customers. Such provision of access to knowledge has been practiced for centuries, and it is still our main duty,” says Muhonen.
But now that we carry “libraries” in our pockets everywhere we go, and the flood of information is overwhelming, the library has a key role to play as a funnel through which information passes.
“The key is to help the customer break through all the noise and find the correct, relevant information for them.
The university library is regularly praised by researchers and students. In Muhonen’s view, this is yet another sign of the key role of libraries.
“At best, we can give the customer more than they asked for or knew was available. A trained librarian knows how to guide and ask the right questions, and open access means that the customers can be easily led to the sources of knowledge as well.
Muhonen says that, for him, the best thing about libraries has been, and still is, customer service.
“My first job in a library was in customer service. And it is still the best feeling when a customer comes to our library to get one book and then leaves with a happy feeling and ten books.”
Two experts get the best result
Muhonen says that he is particularly glad that he got to spend the first month in his new position working with the former director of the library, Jarmo Saarti, before he retired.
“Jarmo and I have a very similar vision of how the library should serve the university and society, and of the future development goals. In that sense, I can continue much on the same path as Jarmo.”
By this, Muhonen refers to the university’s many expert communities in which things get done by working together towards a common goal.
“The promotion of open science has been a priority for about a decade now, and I find that libraries play a key role in this. Researchers should be allowed to focus on their research and rely on others to pursue the matter further after the research is completed.
It is the library’s duty to provide open access to research, but it will need the help of IT services, communications and research services to do so.
“When each of us focus on our own area of expertise, it will benefit the university as a whole. That is the power of co-operation.”