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More than 2,000 Helsinki residents involved in creating ideas for the library of the future


We asked city residents what kind of a library they would like to see in the future. The public online discussion on ideas to make the library your favourite place in Helsinki, which was open from 24 September to 12 October, attracted more than 1,600 participants. In addition, more than 700 city residents posted their ideas on the Central Library’s Tree of Dreams during the summer. The suggestions received were highly varied. Even at the pinnacle of digital development, the library should not lose it noble traditions. Instead of just spending time at the library, you must be able to do things yourself. The library should be both busy – with people attracting more people – and have an almost churchlike atmosphere of peace and quiet.

The library of the future combines a wide variety of spatial functions, such as workspaces, multimedia and studio rooms, peaceful areas and areas for interaction and events. The library of the future is a place for doing and participating. According to the results of the public discussion, the library’s greatest development challenges seem to be the creation and flexible variation of different atmospheres. A report on the results of the public discussion, produced by our partner Fountain Park, is available here.

What do the ideas tell us? Guidelines and opinions provided by city residents 

Room for peace and quiet as well as places for meeting and making sounds
Examples of requests:

  • A lovely place for quiet reflection and inspiring events.
  • Activities for all ages! Anything that is easy to become involved in and that would bring the library closer to all sorts of citizens.
  • The Pavilion comparison hits the mark. A place where anyone can come without any greater purpose.
  • A place of respite from the daily bustle. In these busy and noisy times, we need places of relative peace and quiet.
  • I would like the Central Library to provide room for quiet work, such as writing and reading.

A diverse selection with all kinds of material
Examples of requests:

  • Extensive selections in both electronic and printed form.
  • While new releases are interesting, I would also like the library to have classics that are no longer available commercially.
  • You have information that I can’t reach myself or hear through my own channels. For example, I love being an object where music is concerned. How luxurious it is to receive tips on fresh and interesting stuff.
  • The whole library should be laid out like a bookshop, consisting of various sections. The sections should be clearly indicated visually, enabling all visitors to find the material that interests them.

Educational events and experiences, room for all kinds of feelings
Examples of requests:

  • The library could have open space for various performances, activities and workshops, just like the Pavilion.
  • The library could be a place for citizens’ events and spontaneous activities.
  • I would like to see a library with various atmospheres. A library that lives on its users’ terms and offers surprises.
  • Events where you can meet other customers. Theme months. Meetings with philosophers. Writers mentoring future writers. Environmental information. A media room where you can follow topical issues on the radio and internet, for example. An info wall encouraging city residents to be active.

A pioneer in information and communication technologies, services and equipment
Examples of requests:

  • A fountain of knowledge that focuses on literature-related information distribution and digital material.
  • An open, DIY-spirited centre of communal information and know-how.
  • Workspaces and multimedia rooms. Access to diverse IT equipment.
  • A place to learn about equipment and software. This could be implemented with commercial operators but as impartially as possible, not making it a sales outlet.

Emphasising the educational role, bringing literature to the fore
Examples of requests:

  • A public space that clearly differs from commercial premises.
  • I would like to see the emphasis placed on content, quality, quantity and professional skills.
  • The basic ethical task of the library must not be forgotten. I would like the Central Library to fulfil the basic task of libraries: granting people access to information and culture regardless of their financial standing.
  • The library must promote literature and reading among people of all ages in every way

Meeting the needs and timetables of all user groups reachable and accessible
Examples of requests:

  • A place where you can find new ideas and approaches to any situations in life.
  • Also excellent for people requiring mobility and disability aids, made accessible in the “design for all” spirit, equipped with sufficient technology.
  • A safe environment for different people.
  • There is life in the city around the clock – it would be great if the library could be open from 7 am to 9 pm.
  • Quick visits by busy people – I would like the main floor of the library to have an easily accessible return point, info desk and, say, a paperback section for those wishing to pop in quickly.
  • A good central library is open to everyone, reflecting the diversity of people in terms of culture, interests and family forms alike.

Read more!

All participants entered a draw to win a Helsinki Menu dinner at Restaurant Nokka and a visit to the Railway Station clock tower, with cinema tickets for ten participants as additional prizes. The winners will be contacted personally.

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