A recent article published by The Guardian describes how Finland is aggressively investing in it’s urban libraries. At a time when most cities are struggling to keep their library doors open, Helsinki is planning to open their new central library, Oodi this December.
The article explains the love Finns have for their libraries: in 2016, the UN named Finland the world’s most literate nation. This isn’t surprising, given they are among the world’s most enthusiastic users of public libraries – the country’s 5.5m million people borrow close to 68 million books per year. These high levels of usage are likely due in part to the significant investment Finland makes in their libraries, approximately £50.50 per inhabitant – that’s approximately $86 per citizen in Canadian dollars.
Libraries in Finland continue to be relevant and are described as “the visible face of the Finnish belief in education, equality and good citizenship”. Their libraries are not designed as places to house books; they are central to the social fabric of the community. As described by one of the new library’s architects, “[Oodi] has been designed to give citizens and visitors a free space to actively do what they want to do – not just be a consumer or a flâneur”.
- Read further about Oodi at HELMET, the Helsinki library web site.
- See the interview with Peter Alsbjer on Scandinavian libraries and what they’re doing differently on Pritch.