Bookworms: Helsinki libraries welcome a visitor boom

The new Oodi library has boosted visit & lending figures, but libraries in other parts of the capital are also seeing a surge in interest.

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Detail of books on a shelf at Oodi Central Library / Credit: News Now Finland

For the past two decades libraries around the world have been struggling to stay relevant for their communities, as the internet put books at peoples’ fingertips.

Finland bucks the trend, where libraries diversified into community hubs, and Helsink in particular has been leading the way.

New figures show that libraries in the capital city have been experiencing an unexpected visitor boom.

During 2019, from January until the end of September, Helsinki’s libraries recorded 46% more visits than during the same period the previous year.

In total, libraries had been visited over 6.8 million visits through to the end of September.

While the growth has been mainly fueled by the new Oodi Central Library which opened in December 2018, local libraries have also had their share of increased visitors.

Laajasalo Library recorded a 37% increase in the number of visits compared to the previous year; while Maunula Library saw a 13% rise in visitors.

The number of loans and new library cards also rose this year.

By the end of September, Helsinki libraries had issued 37,000 new library cards – a growth of 54% compared to 2018.

The number of loans also rise by 6% in the past year, with library visitors checking out 3.9 million items from Helsinki libraries.

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