A recently unveiled search engine for accessing the collections of Finland's archives, libraries and museums was built on open source, announces the country's National Library. "The advantage of open source is that it enables organisations to work together to develop a system without limits, contracts or procedures." The engine itself is also made publicly available.
The service will be taken in production tomorrow.
The new solution, called Finna, is a discovery portal, not just a search engine, explains Aki Lassila, Head of Development at Finland's National Library Services, who describes the system as "an information source for search engines."
Finna offers content from reliable sources, displays them in a meaningful format and organises the results depending on the search tool selection. The results can include links to background material that are not accessible electronically outside of Finna, he says. "That is a main difference with Internet search-engines, that usually only display links to web-based sources."
Open source beats procurement
The National Library decided to switch to using open source tools because of the disappointing outcome of a public tender in 2011, chief developer Ere Maijala says in the announcement. "Even the best among the offered solutions did not meet the requirements."
Early last year, the National Library began development of the new search engine portal. Early demonstrations of the functionality helped win the support of management, Maijala says. "Their mood rose with that of the developers."
The Finna search service's first official test took place in December 2012. That beta version connected the data sets of seven organisations. The production version will be released next week, Maijala says. It already connects dozens of archives, libraries and museums and brings together most of their online services.
According to Maijala, Finna can be useful for others. They can use not only the search engine portal, but also benefit from other work contributed to it by the National Library, for example its work on search software that can distinguish Finnish inflected forms.