The Finnish National Bibliography Fennica


Approximately 1M MARC records or 40M RDF triples.


Fennica in produced in MARC 21 format in accordance with the RDA stardard.



The Fennica database is a data repository of Finnish publication output. The database is produced by the National Library of Finland and founded on the 2008 the Act on Collecting and Preserving Cultural Materials (Laki kulttuuriaineistojen tallettamisesta ja säilyttämisestä 1433/2007). The act obligates the National Library to collect and preserve legal deposit copies of all publications and recordings distributed in Finland as specified by the act. The preservation of online material is selective and depositors are only obliged to submit copies upon a specific request made by the National Library.

Contents of the Fennica database:

  • Finnish monographs since 1488
  • serials and periodicals since 1771
  • maps since the 1540s
  • audiovisual material
  • online material since circa 2008
  • a variety of digitised older material
  • group-level description of the Ephemera collection
  • group-level description of thematic website harvests since 2008
  • prepublication data from publishers

General selection criteria

The criteria of selecting material into the National Bibliography have changed over time and the principles have not always been documented. The primary focus has always been on material published in Finland. In addition to this, the National Bibliography also contains a variety of literature published abroad in Finnish, by Finns or about Finland. This “expatriate” material has been included in the collection ever since the first national bibliography, Finnish literature 1544–1877.

Currently the selection criteria are founded on statistical specifications of UNESCO and international IFLA recommendations from the 1970s. These guidelines exclude ephemera publications, which contain a small number of pages and are often intended for immediate use only. The oldest section of the bibliography contains a significant number of publication types which are no longer included.


The ephemera collection is only catalogued as item groups except for approx. 8.000 digitised items with mostly mechanically generated descriptive metadata. A complete listing (in Finnish) of the included and excluded publication types has been maintained since 1990. Some previously included publication types have later been moved to the ephemera collection, for example annual reports, compendia of rules, brief exhibition catalogues and handouts.

Finnish sound recordings and sheet music are catalogued in the national discography Viola.

Items missing

Approximately 20.000 titles published in Swedish from the 1810-1977 collection are missing from the database. These are only available in the Fennica card catalogue.

Since 2008 unrevised reprints are not included in the national collection and thus are not catalogued individually.

The database contains some titles missing from the national collection. Records of missing monograps contain the phrase puuttuu kansalliskokoelmasta (missing from the national collection). Missing issues of periodicals are recorded up to 2014, but since then there is no record of items missing nor tracking whether the title is still being published.

Accrual status

The national bibliography receives prepublication data from publishers. The cataloguing data of printed monographs by over a hundred largest commercial publishing houses is complete within one to two days from the day of publishing. With non-commercial publications the duration depends on the schedule of legal deposit deliveries.

The cataloguing process of electronic publications is under revision between 2017 and 2020. New practices will allow commercial publishing houses to submit their cataloguing data of electronic materials simultaneously with the deposited publications. This means that the records of printed and electronic publications are available in the database simultaneously. Furthermore, as the received data is of higher quality than the current prepublication data, the publications will be ready for use immediately.

Repository formation

The first bibliography of books published in Finland was Förteckning öfver i tryck utgifna skrifter på finska = Luettelo suomeksi präntätyistä kirjoista compiled by  F. W. Pipping in Helsinki between 1856 and 1857. The Finnish Literature Society published an alphabetical and systematic catalogue Suomalainen kirjallisuus of new Finnish publications annually since 1878. From 1944 to 1994 the same catalogue was being published by the Helsinki University Library. The first bibliography of Swedish literature in Finland Katalog öfver den svenska litteraturen i Finland covers years 1886 to 1938. From 1939 onwards the national bibliography has included literature in all languages.

Collection catalogues of the national collection from 1827 to 1976 were manually transferred to the Fennica database at the conversion centre of Kotka in 1998.

Special characteristics of the national bibliography

The national bibliography aims at a high level on consistency between records. The different cataloguing practices during its long history are still visible in the national bibliography as various historical layers. All contents of Fennica cannot be completely uniform as the cataloguing rules have changed over time.

The prefaces and forewords of the catalogues of Finnish literature have been digitized and published by the National Library whenever the cataloguing practices have changed. These are available in Doria at (the collection will be completed in 2018).

Table of changed practices and coverage



cataloguing of monographs in Finnish



cataloguing of maps (since 1974 only the majority is catalogued)


cataloguing of periodicals and serials (since 2014 no issue-level cataloguing)


cataloguing of expatriate materials



cataloguing of municipal reports and annual reports of agricultural societies


cataloguing of publications in all languages excluding Swedish


cataloguing of publications in Swedish


transliteration of Cyrillic letters


birth and death dates of Finnish authors, also added retrospectively


introduction of ISBN identifiers


introduction of ISSN identifiers for periodicals, also added retrospectively


cataloguing is computerised


audiovisual materials: cataloguing of records, C-cassettes, slides, transparencies and microfiches begins


cataloguing of thematic harvests in the web archive


cataloguing of electronic materials


cataloguing of computer games


Cataloguing according to the RDA standard: all creators of a collaborative work are entered with the first becoming the authorized access point (previously in collaborative works of three or more creators the authorized access point was the title and only three first creators were entered), content, media and carrier types are entered, publishing, print and copyright years are entered, functions between the expression and agent are entered more extensively than before. Cataloguing complies with the metadata thesauri.

Personal and corporate names

Personal and corporate names are used in the national bibliography in their authorized name form. The selection of name forms in the earliest national bibliography Suomen kansallisbibliografia 1488-1700 was based primarily on printed sources, bibliographies and registers. Information regarding people’s careers and birth and death dates also checked from various registers. Unpublished sources are used only in special cases. The selected name form must be historically plausible and not be at risk of being mistaken for another person and it. A priority for the National Bibliography is that each person has one complete authorized name form with a reference to possible variant forms used elsewhere.

Example of different names and name variations of one person

Lassila, Maiju, 1868-1918 (= authorised name form used in the bibliography)
Lasila, Majo, 1866-1918 (= see reference to authorised name form)
Лассила, Майю, 1866-1918 (=see reference to authorised name form)
Rantamala, Irmari, 1866-1918 (= other authorised name form for the same person with a see also reference) 

See also: Rantamala, Ilmari, 18166-1918
See also: Untola, Algot, 1866-1918
See also: Vatanen, J. I.,1866-1918

Transliteration of personal and corporate names

Monograph and music materials follow the SFS 4900 : 1998-08-17 standard for Cyrillic languages.
Corporate names in monograph materials employ the ISO 9 standard and in music materials the SFS 4900 : 1998-08-17 standard
In other languages the form of name found in the resource is preferred. If the name is not available on the resource, the following standards are applied:
SFS 5755 :  1993-03-15 Arabic language transliteration
SFS 5807 : 2008-02-11 Greek language transliteration and transcription (for Modern Greek)
SFS 5824 : 1998-03-30  Transliteration of Hebrew alphabet
ISO :1995 (E) standard for Fenno-Ugric languages

Chinese, Korean and Japanese are transliterated on a case-by-case basis.

Birth dates of living persons cannot be made available due to data protection issues.

Subject access

Non-fiction literature has been indexed using the General Finnish Thesaurus YSA since 1987. In 2019 YSA was replaced by the General Finnish Ontology YSO. UDK classification has been issued since 1972 and Finnish Public Libraries Classification PLC since 1988. Older material has been indexed retrospectively in various projects. Currently up to 25 per cent of literature published before 1900 include a UDK classification. The total number on non-fiction literature amounts to 620.000 titles, 51 per cent of which includes indexing terms.

The Finnish Public Libraries Classification and form tags have been issued to narrative fiction since 2017 (also retrospectively). Otherwise fiction is not indexed.

Digitised materials are issued with UDK classification and/or indexing whenever necessary.

  • No labels