The Friends’ Library is a place where people can share relaxing book adventures.
When visiting foreign bookstores, many Finns often whinge: why don’t we have bookstores like these in Finland? You could read on the couch with a mug of hot coffee, meet friends over a glass of wine and share book recommendations, take your time, see exhibitions, maybe come in late at night. You could pick up an interesting book and explore the huge bookstore, sitting down where you please to read the book from cover to cover.
Then, it hits you. In Finland, we have libraries! Public, free libraries, full of books and titles. And, as we have the Central Library service, we won’t miss the European book oases. We can get comfy with piles of books, meet friends, perhaps even over a glass of wine, and enjoy welcoming couches and the endless time. All this without any envy towards foreigners!
Group of friends meeting by the easy chairs
Often, the library is seen as a place where people go alone, read material in solitude, study, work or borrow high-quality titles to be enjoyed at home. A book is often read alone, for your eyes only, at a moment of your choosing. However, the library does not have to be a place for loners. Entire groups can enjoy books and the library setting together.
Imagine a library where you could enjoy time out together with a group of friends, sitting in the easy chairs, spending time in a cafe, even in a wine bar, or on a summer book terrace. You could spend the entire night at the library: chatting away, checking out an exhibition together, eating delicacies and enjoying the wide, open and moody space. Perhaps someone from your group spent the first half of the day working at the library, the other playing with her kids at a playground and the third catching up on his magazine reading list. When the sunset starts to paint the library with lovely rose red colours through the windows, you would still have time to pick up the latest best seller novels to be read at home.
Love at first sight – at the library!
Liisa, 31 and Joël, 36, met in a bookstore in Paris. The shop was Liisa’s favourite getaway from the hectic city life while she was studying in Paris. She often spent hours and hours at the shop, reading and browsing interesting art books and magazines. Joël, a French art student, noticed the blonde Finn who visited his favourite shop often. One time Joël mustered the courage to approach the girl. The couple met later as well, and the third meeting was a date at the bookstore. Later, they went out on dates elsewhere as well, but the couple – now married after five years of dating and currently living in Finland – still visit the same bookstore when they go to Paris, just to pay homage to their first meeting.
The same love story could happen at the local library! Perhaps this will also become your story!
Would you go out on a date at the library?
This is how Finns answer the question:
“Yes, I really could. The kind of library with plenty of lights and beautiful colours. A place that would have a café area for sitting and enjoying a cup of tea in addition to the normal book sections; spaces where you could enjoy reading, peaceful moments and happy people. I really could go on a date with friends there.”
Mirkka, 33, Tampere
“I could go, especially if the library was partly outdoors and partly indoors. The library might have small more private areas and larger public areas. The library could feature rooms where you could, for example, listen to audiobooks together with a few friends or rooms where you could watch movies together.”
Krista, 35, Helsinki
“Yes. The library would have divans for reading, set by a beautiful view to the nature through huge windows. You could rest on the divans together with friends or that special someone, read comics and eat lunch, and maybe listen to the library music collection with two-person headphones.”
Satu, 40, Helsinki
“I would love to go on a romantic date in some really big and old library that just smells of old books. The shelves would be tall, with books stacking up to the ceiling. The library would be a maze with lots of tall pillars and stone staircases. The date could take place somewhere in the middle of the book shelves: you could cuddle in peace and no one would notice since the library is so big.”
Jonna, 34, Raisio
“The library would have a separate space for playing games together with a group of friends or your girlfriend. The library would be an interesting place where you could adventure together, always discovering something new. Kind of a wonderland for adults.”
Jouni, 23, Turku
“If I would go on a date at the library, I would head for the music department. I would go to a place where you would not have to be quiet as a mouse, as it is in libraries in general. I have actually wondered whether the foreign books section would be a good place to find a potential international date…”
Piia, 35, Helsinki
“Yes I could! The library would be a huge, labyrinth of a building set on an island in the middle of a turquoise lake. No one would know why or when the library was originally built or why it had so many tall towers or murky underground levels. During summer, you would row a small boat to reach the island and attach the boat to a wooden dock. The library would be surrounded by a small pathway through broad-leaved trees. There would be benches along the path where you could eat, for example. During winter, you would walk or skate on ice to reach the island. A cup of hot mulled wine or hot chocolate could be enjoyed in a café near the library entrance. There would be plenty of soft oases where you could rest while discovering new enchanting books or where you could enchant your date over a glass of wine. The various library levels, floors and dimensions would offer magical literature and candle-lit small hidden corners that attract the adventurer.”
Leo 30, Helsinki