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The New Central Library Has Been Named Oodi


Helsinki City Library held an open competition in October 2016 on the name of the Central Library under construction in the Töölönlahti area of Helsinki. The competition received 2,600 proposals, and 1,600 of them were different names. The winning proposal selected by the jury is “Oodi”.

The name was selected from among the proposals by the jury in two meetings. The jury was chaired by Helsinki Deputy Mayor Ritva Viljanen. Ms Viljanen comments that the name was selected with careful consideration of the many requirements for the name.

“The name should be easy to remember, short, and easy to pronounce and to use in a sentence,” she says. “The name should also be easy to explain to the international audience and work in many languages. The name should support the symbolism of the Finland 100 centenary. It is also a merit to the name that the word is beautiful. Because it is a name of a library, it should be linked with literature and thereby with the library institution. However, we did not want to name the library dealing with all of Finland, literature and culture to one person only, although good arguments were presented for library names dedicated to various authors. On these bases, were selected ‘Oodi’ as the name of the Central Library.”

Oodi is the Finnish word for Ode.

The jury’s decision was unanimous. The proposal Oodi was presented by Mirja Lounameri. She will be recognized with a special invitation to the library opening ceremony in December 2018.

Timeless name for building promoting democracy and learning

Oodi (ode) is a lyric poem marked by exaltation, and it can be written in irregular metre. The word has a long history: as early as in ancient Egypt and Greece, odes were sung in praise of a person, who could be a king or someone celebrating an anniversary.

“The name looks back, but it is part of our modern language and well reflects the nature and task of the library to open in the Töölönlahti area in 2018: Oodi will be a centre for people and reading, a place for democracy and learning, and a gift for the 100-year-old Republic of Finland and for the Finns,” Ms Viljanen points out. The name is also seen to symbolize the high quality of the Finnish library institution and architecture.

The name of the Central Library can be officially written in two ways (in three languages – Finnish, Swedish and English):

  1. Helsingin keskustakirjasto Oodi – Helsingfors centrumbibliotek Oodi – Helsinki Central Library Oodi
  1. Kirjasto Oodi, Helsinki – Biblioteket Oodi, Helsingfors – Library Oodi, Helsinki


Members of the jury:

Ritva Viljanen, Chair, Deputy Mayor, Helsinki
Tuula Haavisto, City Library Director, Helsinki
Claes Andersson, author
Riina Katajavuori, author
Johanna Lehtonen, Place Name Planner, Helsinki City Planning Department
Titta Lilja, student, member of Ruuti core group
Pirjo Lipasti, Lead Planner, Central Library Project, Helsinki City Library
Arto Sivonen, marketing designer, marketing communications agency Måndag
Hannu Sulin, Director, Department of Art and Cultural Policy, Ministry of Education and Culture
Sari Lehikoinen, Jury Secretary, Communications Manager, Helsinki City Library

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