Mari Aaltonen, Senior Information Specialist, Library at Aalto University, Finland

What is the biggest challenge you have faced in your career so far?

“Taking responsibility of a library’s e-resources with just 8 hours of instruction was quite a challenge and it did take a couple of years before I felt I really had it all under control.”

What do you think will be your biggest challenges over the next five years?

“The library’s e-collection has to be re-evaluated as the prices keep on rising more than the library budget. We no longer can keep all the old subscriptions and update the collection with new titles. This might require some radical decisions and new directions for the collection.”

What does the library of the future look like?

“The library will be a learning hub with many different types of spaces for different sorts of use. The collections will mostly be in electronic form and the space used for creating a good learning experience.”

How are social media and the growth of online communications changing the way you interact with your colleagues and library patrons?

“Information is being spread more through blogs and social media (Facebook, Yammer, Twitter, etc.) instead of earlier e-mailing lists and notices on the web pages.”

How can librarians encourage students to visit the library?

“By providing the study environments they need: silent spaces, group work spaces, social spaces…”

What piece of advice would you pass on to new colleagues just starting their librarianship?

“Keep an open mind and expect change. Learn how things are being done now but try to find better ways, especially on how to adapt to the changing environment.”

In your opinion, what is the best thing about being a librarian?

“Using your knowledge and skills to help users with their information needs and solving the problems that do arise from the constant change.”

What was the last book you read and what do you recommend reading?

“The last book was the fascinating Atlas of Legendary Lands by Judyth McLeod. I recommend reading whatever strikes your fancy, but do try Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Shakespeare, Iain Banks and John Milton. Then make up your own mind!”

What’s the one place you’ve always wanted to visit?

“Ancient Alexandria.”

If you could have any three guests to dinner who would they be?

“Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams and Herodotus. But this changes day to day (depending on what I’m reading) as there are and have been so many fascinating people on this planet!”