Helsinki City Library users will get to have their say on planning the upcoming Central Library.

As far as we know, there haven’t been previously a lot of PB projects in Finland. The Finnish innovation fund, Sitra took the initiative and organized a small-scale PB project (3) as part of their New Democracy Forum in April 2012.

Between August 2011 and April 2012 Sitra sought for new means of democracy with 30 guest participants from different fields of expertise. During the process, Participatory Budgeting appeared so interesting, that Sitra decided to use the new method for deciding on ca. 100 000 euros budgeted for new democracy initiatives. In the end, 16 projects competed for funding. Forum participants, the spokespeople of the projects and a few members of Sitra staff got all equal share of one vote per person to vote for a list of 10 preferable candidates for funding. All votes counted, decision was that Avoin ministeriö (Open Ministry) (5), Sosiaalinen hub (Social Hub) and our Participatory Budgeting propositions got elected.

Behind the PB proposal were companies Emobit Oy , Avanto insight Oy and the Helsinki City Library. The plan started with gathering information about PB and setting up,, which is now running the early first version. We hope that we can provide everybody with useful info and even welcome everybody interested to contribute.

Avanto is responsible for PB process planning and execution. Emobit is Sitra contractual partner leading the project and provides OpenSpending technical expertise. Planning is rather open, as we publish all the documents freshly at the site, where it’s possible for anybody to drop a comment. Focus is on developing the new Central Library, that is currently waiting for the results of architectonic competition by November 2012. Nevertheless, the project employs already project planner and participation planner with whom we decide on the final execution plan. At the moment, general plan includes 2-3 live sessions in different libraries, open participation for anybody interested and both possibility to leave own budget proposal and using feedback from the Dream! survey from early 2012. In addition, we’ll be using Open Spending platform in order to visualize open expenditure data from city of Helsinki. Details for the plan are to be fixed by around mid September.

World Library and Information Congress took just place in Helsinki and the project was promoted there as you can see in the slideshare presentation below (*). We hope to get a lot of people involved in creating a library that really is for the people, and also attention to the PB topic itself.

Raimo Muurinen
Manager, Avanto insight
Open data and open democracy enthusiast