Finna’s user survey 2023 results

Feedback was collected in 2023 with the help of a Finna search service survey.

The Finna search services’ user survey was held in January-February 2023 in all Finna views, including Arsca. The survey was used to map the profile and different needs of the users of Finna search services. A total of 36,327 responses were received. Most of the responses were from public libraries (27,329 responses). The number of respondents has risen from the previous survey held in 2021. The results of the survey for all Finna organisations can be found in the survey report (only in finnish).

Feedback on the University of the Arts Helsinki’s Finna search service Arsca was also plentiful. Responses to Arsca raised a wide range of issues from the usability of Arsca to library materials. In this article, we will respond to some of these feedbacks.

Feedback on Arsca’s functions

Frequent feedback was about logging into Arsca via email, which was perceived as difficult and time-consuming. Instead of e-mail login, you can create a Finna ID, which allows you to log in to Arsca with a self-selected username and password instead of a link sent to the e-mail.

Another issue in the feedback concerning logging into Arsca was that the previous search in Arsca disappears when you log in and you have to do it again. This phenomenon does not occur with all users or login methods. If this happens to you, you can check to see if your search is still in Arsca’s search history. From the Arscan “Search Actions” menu, you can view your search history for the current session and search again easily. The search history also stores the filters used in searches. However, the search history does not help if the login on your device has started a new session.

Some respondents wanted a search function that could be used to narrow the search result down to a particular key or register. Unfortunately, in most cases, the key is not added to the data in the library database, and it is almost impossible to do the work retrospectively.

The register can be used to help find vocal music by adding the word korkea (high), keskiääni (middle voice) or matala (low) to the search. Note, that to get the best result you must use finnish terms for the registers. However, it is worth remembering that the register is added in the data only if it is mentioned in the sheet music, so using the register as a search term may exclude from the search results sheet music for songs that are in the correct register, but in which the register is not mentioned.

Several respondents to the survey found it difficult that Arsca does not recognize exceptions to a few letters in search words. This is especially difficult for Russian names, which may have different spellings.

Since the survey was carried out, there has been a significant improvement in this regard. In the autumn of 2024, Arscan data was enriched with various writing formats for authors’ names. These are not visible to users, but searches hit them. Now, for example, searches with the words Khatschaturian or Chacaturjan find most of Aram Hachaturjan’s works. This is not entirely complete either (searching for Hatsaturjan gets 299 hits and Khatschaturian gets 256), so it is still advisable to search for one record where the composer’s name appears and do a new search using the Finnish name format found in the record, in this case Hatšaturjan. You can find more tips on searching classical music in Arsca’s instructions.

Feedback on library materials

Through the user survey, we also received a lot of feedback related to the library’s collections.

Many respondents wished for more works by representatives of minorities (e.g. female composers and representatives of indigenous peoples) in the library’s collections, as well as the possibility to influence the library’s material acquisitions.

We aim to acquire material made by different population groups in our collections as far as possible. We are also happy to accept acquisition requests from our customers. Wishes can be sent to the library by e-mail or using the form found in Arsca. However, the acquisition of materials always takes into account the need for materials and their suitability for the library’s collections.

The University of the Arts Library primarily serves University of the Arts students, teachers and researchers. That is why our printed and electronic materials focus on the arts. The University of the Arts Helsinki is also a fairly small university, which is reflected in the extent of our e-resources collections when compared to, for example, the collections of the University of Helsinki Library.

Finna’s usability and search capabilities are constantly being developed. In this work, the user survey responses are of great help and we thank everyone who responded to the survey for their feedback.