In 2017, a survey was completed on the use of geographic information by libraries, archives and museums (the LAM sector) as well as their related needs. The survey was conducted on behalf of the Information Architecture Group of the National Digital Library (NDL) project. The survey provided an overall estimate of how the LAM sector uses geographic locations and names for descriptive purposes, and the survey’s purpose was to clarify the role that the sector plays in the national geographic information ecosystem as well as to provide suggestions for future measures.
Geographic information is used in the information systems employed by libraries, archives and museums primarily for descriptive purposes. On the other hand, in matters related to, for example, cultural environments, many museums utilise geographic information technologies for a wider range of purposes. The quality and extensiveness of the geographic information used for descriptive purposes is emphasised in systems that do not use geographic information technology. The central issue is that the geographic glossaries used by these systems are often system specific and differ from one another. On the other hand, the glossaries that could be shared may not meet the required quality standards.
The aforementioned NDL survey proposed that the sector adopt a shared geographic information ontology, i.e., that geographic name information be produced for a joint information resource. To reach this goal, the survey included proposals for measures, part of whose implementation was begun in 2018. One of the suggested measures was to inspect the possibility of linking the Institute for the Languages of Finland’s geographic name materials with the General Finnish Ontology YSO’s geographic ontology, i.e., YSO places. The YSO Places service has been noted to represent the best starting point for the creation of a common geographic information service.
The measures that have been launched aim to establish a shared geographic information resource. The other measures proposed in the NDL’s survey – such as the ontologisation of historical geographic information, the utilisation of geographic information and the inclusion of foreign locations in descriptive data – are to be implemented at a later date.