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Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland

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News, 12/5/2018

Helsinki invests in its people with a library that reinvents the genre

Photo: Hernan Patiño

Everyone knows Finnish people love outdoor sports and hiking in the forest. They also enjoy hard-hitting games such as ice hockey. But do you know how much they like libraries?

Finland takes libraries seriously, as the magnificent new Helsinki Central Library Oodi demonstrates (the name means “ode” in Finnish). It’s a 98-million-euro investment in the people of Helsinki. Organisers strategically picked December 5, 2018 for the grand opening, tying it to December 6, Finland’s Independence Day.

Finnish people love their books. The Finns are ranked as some of the most literate people in the world, as well as some of the most prolific users of libraries. On average, every resident of Finland borrows 16 items from a library each year.

“Libraries have historically been important to Finns,” says Katri Vänttinen, the City of Helsinki’s director of library services. “Beginning in the 1800s, every village had a school and a library, and that created equal access to literacy and basic education.”

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Updated 12/5/2018

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