Finland's Helsinki is now home to a new, multi-faceted public library, Oodi – set to open in early December, coinciding with the country’s Independence Day celebrations.
Oodi was commissioned as part of Finland’s 100th anniversary of independence from Russia and was designed by Finnish firm ALA Architects, which won an international architecture competition to design Helsinki’s new central library in 2013 with their entry “Käännös”. Located in the heart of Helsinki, the 16,000 square meter library building consists almost entirely of public spaces and offers a wide selection of services. It serves as the new central point for the city’s impressive public library network.
Books+Publishing reports that while Oodi is intended to serve as a traditional library for 100,000 books, it is also meant to promote digital culture. The €98 million project is arranged over three levels, with the top floor dedicated to traditional library functions through an adaptable space with glass walls, a wide balcony, and stunning city views. The middle floor is dedicated to “learning by doing” with audiovisual recording studios, and an ‘urban workshop’ containing 3D printers and sewing machines. As for the ground floor, it serves as an extension to a public plaza complete with a multipurpose hall for exhibitions, cafes, and a cinema.
Helsinki deputy mayor Nasima Razmyar told the Guardian earlier this year that this is the perfect gift to the people as it "symbolizes the significance of learning and education, which have been fundamental factors for Finland’s development and success."
In 2016, the UN named Finland the world’s most literate nation, and Finns are among the world’s most enthusiastic users of public libraries, according to the Guardian. It is also one of the few countries in the world to have a Library Act, which includes legal provisions which dictate that libraries must remain free to use and that every library must have a certain number of qualified staff depending on the size of the population it serves. The country’s 5.5 million inhabitants borrow 68 million books per year; Oodi is expected to welcome around 2.5 million visitors every year.
The grand opening of Oodi will be held on December 5th, the eve of Finnish Independence Day, with festivities to continue on December 6th with events designed especially for families with children. For more information about Oodi and for book lovers out there, visit their website.