Helsinki’s libraries experiencing a visitor and borrowing boom

Helsinki City Library has recorded a higher number of both library visits and loans compared to last year. While the growth has been fuelled primarily by Central Library Oodi, the attractiveness of local libraries has been noted all over Helsinki.

In 2019, Helsinki’s public libraries have recorded 46% more visits than during the same period last year. By the end of September, Helsinki City Library’s locations had been visited a total of 6.8 million times.

The main reason for the increase in visits is the popularity of Central Library Oodi, which opened in December 2018: Oodi is by far the most popular library with nearly 2.5 million visits. However, the library boom has been felt in other parts of Helsinki as well. The next most popular libraries this year have been Kallio Library (324,775 visits) and Itäkeskus Library (307,413 visits).

Laajasalo and Maunula recorded the highest increases

Among the libraries that have experienced a notable increase in visits are Laajasalo and Maunula, which recently moved to new facilities. Laajasalo Library has recorded a 37% increase in the number of visits compared to last year, while Maunula Library has recorded an increase of 13%.

– Oodi’s first year of operation has made libraries more visible than ever in Helsinki and throughout Finland, states City of Helsinki’s Director of Library Services Katri Vänttinen.

– It has been great to see how much people love their local libraries, use their services and discuss the tasks of libraries in a critical manner. Oodi, too, has established itself as many people’s local library, and its usage rates are by far the highest in regard to both visits and loans. I hope that people across Helsinki will continue to actively contribute to the development of library services by giving us feedback and participating in events held at libraries, for example.

37,000 new library cards and 3.9 million loans

In addition to the number of visits, the number of loans and the number of new library cards issued have also increased. By the end of September, Helsinki City Library had issued 37,095 new library cards, of which over 15,000 were made at Oodi. The number of new library cards issued has grown by 54% compared to the same period last year.

The number of loans has grown by 6% compared to last year, with library visitors recording a total of 3.9 million loans.

Monday is the busiest day at libraries

In Helsinki, the most popular day to visit the library is Monday. Based on the number of visits, it is the busiest day at all other public libraries except Oodi, where the most popular days are Saturday and Thursday.

At Oodi, the number of visits recorded exceeded 2.7 million in October. The combined number of visits recorded by Helsinki’s libraries is expected to exceed 9 million this year, with Oodi’s share expected to be over 3 million.

Helsinki City Library’s service network includes 37 public libraries, 2 mobile libraries and the services of the Home and Service Library for those who cannot reach a library by their own means.

Library visits recorded at the locations of Helsinki City Library (January–September)

2018: 4,687,058 visits

2019: 6,821,525 visits

change 2018/2019: +46%

Top 3 libraries in January–September 2019

Oodi 2,466,338 visits

Kallio 324,775 visits

Itäkeskus 307,413 visits

New library cards

2018: 24,053 new library cards

2019: 37,095 new library cards (of which 15,621 were issued at Oodi)

change 2018/2019: +54%

First loans (not counting renewals)

2018: 3,707,591 loans

2019: 3,944,193 loans

change 2018/2019: +6%

Photo: Maarit Hohteri