The International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions IFLA nominated library Oodi as the ‘Public Library of the Year’. The City of Helsinki is extremely proud for the achievement and recognises the participatory design process as one of the major reasons for the success.

- Oodi was designed together with customers for a long period of time. We received more than 2,000 ideas from customers to serve as the basis of the architectural competition. ALA Architects designed an amazing and unique building that takes all the elements most desired by customers into account. The customers immediately made Oodi their own, which is our greatest success. The Public Library of the Year award tells us that the world has also taken notice of this, says Anna-Maria Soininvaara, Director of Library Oodi.

The annually presented Public Library of the Year award is presented to a public library that is either newly built or set up in premises not previously used for library purposes.

This year, a total of 16 libraries from all over the world applied to be considered for this award. The prize was granted in the 85th World Library and Information Congress of IFLA in Athens, Greece. The conference took place from August 24 to August 30, 2019.

Oodi is a public space in the heart of Helsinki

Helsinki Central Library Oodi is a living meeting place at ‘Kansalaistori square’ - the square of citizens - right at the heart of Helsinki. It is also the flagship of Finnish public libraries.

The Library Oodi opened in December 2018 and had a great success in terms of the amount of visitors. After six months from opening, Oodi has already had over two million visitors.

Oodi offers wide range of library services: a collection of 100,000 books, newspapers and magazines and family library services. The new digital and workshop services include for example 3D-printers, laser cutters and label printers as well as music studios and film editing equipment. There is also a cinema, information service of the city of Helsinki and EU, as well as rooms dedicated for studying and working. 

Oodi complements the cultural and media hub formed by Helsinki Music Centre, Finlandia Hall, Sanoma editorial house and the Museum of Contemporary Art Kiasma. Oodi is a non-commercial, urban public space that is open to all, right opposite the Parliament Building.

The project for building the central library was part of the celebrations of 100 years of independence in Finland.

Helsinki has an excellent network of libraries

Helsinki City Library has 37 branch libraries all over the city. Residents are also served by two library buses, which tour the parts of Helsinki with no library branch of their own. Helsinki City Library also maintains 10 institutional libraries and a home service for those who cannot reach a library by their own means.

The Helsinki city libraries form part of the Helmet network - the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Libraries - which also consists of the neighbouring city libraries of Espoo, Vantaa and Kauniainen. Helmet libraries’ customers can use all the services of all Helmet libraries.

The libraries offer also wide digital services of electronic library that has 24/7 services. The Helmet e-library is one of the largest e-libraries in the Nordic countries. Library patrons have access to thousands of electronic books, journals and magazines as well as music, databases and online courses free of charge.

Finland is the most literate country in the world

The Finnish library system has strongly supported the education system providing access to information and literature. Finland has been among the top ten countries of the worldwide OECD study ‘Program for International Student Assessment’ (PISA) many times. In the study year 2016, Finland was also the most literate country in the world.

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Helsinki Central Library Oodi
Helmet network