Helsinki City Library

Helsinki City Library
Helsingin kaupunginkirjasto
Helsingfors stadsbibliotek
Pasila library.JPG
Pasila Library, the main library in the Helsinki City Library system
TypePublic library
Established7 October 1860 (1860-10-07)
Coordinates60°12′2.99″N 24°56′8.88″E / 60.2008306°N 24.9358000°E / 60.2008306; 24.9358000 (Pasilan kirjasto, Helsinki)
(Pasila Library)
Branches37 + 2 bookmobiles
Size1.81 million (1.57 million books)[1]
Access and use
Circulation7.28 million (2020)[1]
Other information
Budget39,362,374 (2020)[1]
DirectorKatri Vänttinen (2017 – )
References: "Suomen yleisten kirjastojen tilastot" [Finnish Public Library Statistics] (in Finnish). 2020. Retrieved 2 October 2021.

Helsinki City Library (Finnish: Helsingin Kaupunginkirjasto, until 1910 Helsinki People's Library) is the largest public library in Finland. Owned by the City of Helsinki, the library has 37 branches and a collection of about 1.56 million books.[1] The City Library is part of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area Libraries network.


Helsinki People's Library (1860–1876)[edit]

On 7 October 1860, the Helsinki People's Library (Finnish: Helsingin kansankirjasto) opened at Hallituskatu 11, the current location of the University of Helsinki's Porthania building. Funding for the library was raised by the Helsinki Women's Association with the goal of educating Helsinki's residents and provide them with constructive leisure activities. The effort was led by teacher Helene Simelius, author Zacharias Topelius, and Bishop Frans Ludvig Schauman [sv].[2]

In its first year of operation, the library held about 400 to 500 books (primarily in Swedish) and circulated about 1,700 loans. Borrowing books was free, which allowed the library to enjoy many patrons, but at the same time it caused financial problems. The library had to move from one rented location to another every couple of years, and the volunteer librarians also changed frequently. Due to its lack of funding, the library began charging patrons in 1867, and in 1871 it began to receive an annual subsidy from the City of Helsinki. Thanks to the city's support, the library's finances stabilized, and it could hire a professional staff.

Five years later, the library's board offered to transfer the library to the city. On 28 March 1876, the City Council of Helsinki formally agreed to take over operation of the library. As the library already operated with city funding, there were no major changes in operations. At the time of the transfer to the city, the People's Library's annual circulation was about 15,000 loans and its collections included more than 2,000 books.

From People's Library to City Library (1876–1945)[edit]

Rikhardinkatu Library

With the city now in control of the library, it began planning for a dedicated building. In 1877, Helsingin Anniskeluyhtiö (Helsinki Liquor Co.), which held a monopoly on alcohol sales in the city on the condition it devoted its profits to benefiting city workers, donated 61,405.29 Finnish markka (368,659.34 in 2020)[3] for the library to secure its own building. A plot of land was acquired on the corner of Rikhardinkatu and Korkeavuorenkatu in the Kaartinkaupunki district, and architect Theodor Höijer was contracted to design the building. The library moved to its new home in autumn 1882.[4]

With the Rikhardinkatu Library complete, the city began developing branch libraries. In 1898–1899, branch libraries were established in Töölö and Punavuori, and the private Sörnäinen People's Library was taken over by the city. Additional branches opened in Vallila in 1908 and Käpylä in 1926. Most of these branches operated from rented locations, except for the Kallio Library, which received a Karl Hård af Segerstad-building in 1912.

In 1910, the library adopted a new charter as the "Helsinki City Library." As the People's Library, the focus was on the needs of working populace, but the City Library was required to serve all residents regardless of social class.

At the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, the library's annual circulation volume exceeded 200,000 loans. In 1912, there was a shift to free borrowing and the circulation rate quickly rose to 500,000. In 1930, the library achieved 1 million loans for the first time. To handle the library's growing collection and activity, the Rikhardinkatu Library was expanded in 1922, and through the 1930s the city sought to build a new main library; however, the outbreak of World War II in 1939 mooted those efforts.

Growing with Helsinki (1945–)[edit]

After World War II, the establishment of the Grand Regional Association of Helsinki [fi] brought a great expansion to the City Library. It absorbed the libraries of the former municipalities of Haaga, Huopalahti, Oulunkylä, and Kulosaari, along with libraries in the Helsinki Rural District. In total a dozen additional libraries were added to City Library's five branches and one main location. In 1953, it opened a music library and in 1966 it began operating a bookmobile. In 1986, the library finally completed construction of a new main library in Eastern Pasila. In 2019, the Helsinki City Library registered more than 9 million visitors to its branches.[4]

In 1981, the Helsinki City Library began serving as the national central library for Finnish public libraries, and in 2018 it gained responsibility for overseeing development of libraries nationwide under the 2016 Public Libraries Act.[5]

About the City Library[edit]

As of 2020, the Helsinki Library has 36 branches and one main location. It also operates two bookmobiles and four "patient libraries" (potilaskirjasto) in medical facilities.[1]

Special collections[edit]

The most significant collection in the Helsinki City Library is the Helsinki Collection of material related to the growth of the city. The Kallio Library has a Detective Library donated by the Finnish Whodunnit Society [fi]. The Rikhardinkatu Library has a British Collection of English-language literature and an artist's book collection. Branch libraries also contain material about their local area.


Library branch name Address Coordinates Image Web link
Arabianranta Library Hämeentie 135 A, 00560 Helsinki 60°12′32″N 24°58′36″E / 60.2089°N 24.9767°E / 60.2089; 24.9767 (Arabianrannan kirjasto, Helsinki) Arabianrannan kirjasto 05.jpg Arabianrannan kirjasto
Etelä-Haaga Library Isonnevantie 16 B, 00320 Helsinki 60°12′50″N 24°53′30″E / 60.21392°N 24.89174°E / 60.21392; 24.89174 (Etelä-Haagan kirjasto, Helsinki) Helsinki-EtelaHaagan kirjasto-m.jpg Etelä-Haagan kirjasto
Helsinki Central Library Oodi Töölönlahdenkatu 4, 00100 Helsinki 60°10′25″N 24°56′17″E / 60.17363°N 24.93808°E / 60.17363; 24.93808 (kirjasto, Helsinki) Helsinki Central Library Oodi, 2019 (01).jpg Helsingin keskustakirjasto Oodi
Herttoniemi Library Linnanrakentajantie 2, 00880 Helsinki 60°11′43″N 25°02′01″E / 60.19515°N 25.03352°E / 60.19515; 25.03352 (Herttoniemen kirjasto, Helsinki) Herttoniemen kirjasto
Itäkeskus Library Turunlinnantie 1, 00900 Helsinki 60°12′43″N 25°04′48″E / 60.2120°N 25.0801°E / 60.2120; 25.0801 (Itäkeskuksen kirjasto, Helsinki) Itäkeskuksen kirjasto.jpg Itäkeskuksen kirjasto
Jakomäki Library Jakomäenpolku 3, 00770 Helsinki 60°15′38″N 25°04′35″E / 60.26051°N 25.07629°E / 60.26051; 25.07629 (Jakomäen kirjasto, Helsinki) Jakomäki library.jpg Jakomäen kirjasto
Jätkäsaari Library and Information Center Tyynenmerenkatu 1, 00220 Helsinki 60°09′36″N 24°55′15″E / 60.15993°N 24.92087°E / 60.15993; 24.92087 (Jätkäsaaren kirjasto, Helsinki) Jätkäsaaren kirjasto ja infokeskus - Tyynenmerenkatu 1, 00220 Helsinki - 2.jpg Jätkäsaaren kirjasto ja infokeskus Archived 1 August 2018 at the Wayback Machine
Kallio Library Viides linja 11, 00530 Helsinki 60°11′01″N 24°57′13″E / 60.18361°N 24.95362°E / 60.18361; 24.95362 (Kallion kirjasto, Helsinki) Kallion kirjasto.jpg Kallion kirjasto
Kannelmäki Library Klaneettitie 5, 00420 Helsinki 60°14′20″N 24°52′34″E / 60.23876°N 24.87609°E / 60.23876; 24.87609 (kirjasto, Helsinki) Helsinki-Kanneltalo2m.jpg Kannelmäen kirjasto
Käpylä Library Väinölänkatu 5, 00610 Helsinki 60°12′39″N 24°56′50″E / 60.21083°N 24.94712°E / 60.21083; 24.94712 (Käpylän kirjasto, Helsinki) Käpylä Library - Väinölänkatu 5 - Käpylä - Helsinki - 1.jpg Käpylän kirjasto
Kontula Library Ostostie 4, 00940 Helsinki 60°14′16″N 25°05′07″E / 60.23767°N 25.08528°E / 60.23767; 25.08528 (Kontulan kirjasto, Helsinki) Kontulan kirjasto, Helsinki.JPG Kontulan kirjasto
Laajasalo Library Yliskylän puistokatu 4, 00840 Helsinki 60°10′45″N 25°03′06″E / 60.17928°N 25.05162°E / 60.17928; 25.05162 (Laajasalon kirjasto, Helsinki) Laajasalo-new-library-ext.jpg Laajasalon kirjasto
Lauttasaari Library Pajalahdentie 10a, 00200 Helsinki 60°09′31″N 24°53′00″E / 60.15857°N 24.88337°E / 60.15857; 24.88337 (Lauttasaaren kirjasto, Helsinki) Lauttasaaren kirjasto - Pajalahdentie 10a, 00200 Helsinki - 1.jpg Lauttasaaren kirjasto
Malmi Library Ala-Malmin tori 1, 00700 Helsinki 60°15′01″N 25°00′53″E / 60.2504°N 25.0148°E / 60.2504; 25.0148 (Malmin kirjasto, Helsinki) Entrance of Malmi library.jpg Malmin kirjasto
Malminkartano Library Puustellintie 6, 00410 Helsinki 60°14′47″N 24°51′37″E / 60.24641°N 24.86033°E / 60.24641; 24.86033 (Malminkartanon kirjasto, Helsinki) Malminkartanon kirjasto - Puustellintie 6 (Puustellinaukio) - Helsinki - 1.jpg Malminkartanon kirjasto
Maunula Library Metsäpurontie 4, 00630 Helsinki 60°13′53″N 24°56′00″E / 60.23129°N 24.93324°E / 60.23129; 24.93324 (Maunulan kirjasto, Helsinki) Maunula Library - Metsäpurontie 4, Helsinki - 3.jpg Maunulan kirjasto
Munkkiniemi Library Riihitie 22, 00330 Helsinki 60°11′49″N 24°52′33″E / 60.19685°N 24.87577°E / 60.19685; 24.87577 (Munkkiniemen kirjasto, Helsinki) Munkkiniemen kirjasto - Kirsti ja Egil Nordin 1989 - Riihitie 22, Helsinki - 1.jpg Munkkiniemen kirjasto
Myllypuro Media Library Kiviparintie 2, 00920 Helsinki 60°13′27″N 25°04′24″E / 60.22414°N 25.07322°E / 60.22414; 25.07322 (Myllypuron mediakirjasto, Helsinki) Myllypuron mediakirjasto.jpg Myllypuron mediakirjasto Archived 8 June 2021 at the Wayback Machine
Oulunkylä Library Kylänvanhimmantie 27, 00640 Helsinki 60°13′41″N 24°57′46″E / 60.22807°N 24.96266°E / 60.22807; 24.96266 (Oulunkylän kirjasto, Helsinki) Oulunkylä Library - Kylänvanhimmantie 27 - Oulunkylä - Helsinki - 2.jpg Oulunkylän kirjasto
Paloheinä Library Paloheinäntie 22, 00670 Helsinki 60°14′57″N 24°56′29″E / 60.24930°N 24.94136°E / 60.24930; 24.94136 (Paloheinän kirjasto, Helsinki) Paloheinän terveysasema ja kirjasto 3.jpg Paloheinän kirjasto
Pasila Library (main) Kellosilta 9, 00520 Helsinki 60°12′03″N 24°56′09″E / 60.20083°N 24.93580°E / 60.20083; 24.93580 (Pasilan kirjasto, Helsinki) Pasila library.JPG Pasilan kirjasto
Pikku Huopalahti Children's Library Tilkankatu 19, 00300 Helsinki 60°12′07″N 24°53′43″E / 60.2019°N 24.8952°E / 60.2019; 24.8952 (Pikku Huopalahden lastenkirjasto, Helsinki) Pikku Huopalahden lastenkirjasto - Tilkankatu 19, Helsinki - 1.jpg Pikku Huopalahden lastenkirjasto
Pitäjänmäki Library Jousipolku 1, 00370 Helsinki 60°13′34″N 24°51′38″E / 60.22614°N 24.86050°E / 60.22614; 24.86050 (Pitäjänmäen kirjasto, Helsinki) Pitäjänmäen kirjasto - Jousipolku 1, Helsinki - 1.jpg Pitäjänmäen kirjasto
Pohjois-Haaga Library Kaupintie 4, 00440 Helsinki 60°13′57″N 24°53′15″E / 60.23249°N 24.88739°E / 60.23249; 24.88739 (Pohjois-Haagan kirjasto, Helsinki) Pohjois-Haagan kirjasto - Kaupintie 4, Helsinki - 3.jpg Pohjois-Haagan kirjasto
Puistola Library Nurkkatie 2, 00760 Helsinki 60°16′16″N 25°03′32″E / 60.27121°N 25.05882°E / 60.27121; 25.05882 (Puistolan kirjasto, Helsinki) Puistola library.jpg Puistolan kirjasto
Pukinmäki Library Kenttäkuja 12, 00720 Helsinki 60°15′00″N 24°59′28″E / 60.2499°N 24.9912°E / 60.2499; 24.9912 (Pukinmäen kirjasto, Helsinki) Pukinmäki Library (1).jpg Pukinmäen kirjasto
Rikhardinkatu Library Rikhardinkatu 3, 00130 Helsinki 60°09′58″N 24°56′47″E / 60.16623°N 24.94639°E / 60.16623; 24.94639 (Rikhardinkadun kirjasto, Helsinki) Rikhardinkadun kirjasto (2).jpg Rikhardinkadun kirjasto
Roihuvuori Library Roihuvuorentie 2, 00820 Helsinki 60°11′41″N 25°03′10″E / 60.19460°N 25.05275°E / 60.19460; 25.05275 (Roihuvuoren kirjasto, Helsinki) Roihuvuori library.jpg Roihuvuoren kirjasto
Sakarinmäki Children's Library Knutersintie 924, 00890 Helsinki 60°15′42″N 25°12′41″E / 60.2618°N 25.2113°E / 60.2618; 25.2113 (Sakarinmäen lastenkirjasto, Helsinki) Sakarinmäen lastenkirjasto
Skidi and Stoori Bookmobiles Rautatieläisenkatu 8, 00520 Helsinki Mobile library for children in Helsinki C IMG 7112.JPG Helsinki Bookmobile
Skidi and Stoori Timetables
Suomenlinna Library Suomenlinna C 31, 00190 Helsinki 60°08′48″N 24°59′12″E / 60.14666°N 24.98673°E / 60.14666; 24.98673 (Suomenlinnan kirjasto, Helsinki) Library (5089743900).jpg Suomenlinnan kirjasto
Suutarila Library Seulastentie 11, 00740 Helsinki 60°16′32″N 24°59′51″E / 60.2755°N 24.9975°E / 60.2755; 24.9975 (Suutarilan kirjasto, Helsinki) Suutarila Library - Seulastentie 11, Siltamäki - Helsinki - 1 - orig.jpg Suutarilan kirjasto
Tapanila Library Hiidenkiventie 21, 00730 Helsinki 60°15′56″N 25°01′08″E / 60.26556°N 25.01884°E / 60.26556; 25.01884 (Tapanilan kirjasto, Helsinki) Tapanila Library - Hiidenkiventie 21 - Helsinki - 1 - orig.jpg Tapanilan kirjasto
Tapulikaupunki Library Ajurinaukio 5, 00750 Helsinki 60°16′28″N 25°02′02″E / 60.27437°N 25.03378°E / 60.27437; 25.03378 (Tapulikaupungin kirjasto, Helsinki) Tapulikaupunki library b.jpg Tapulikaupungin kirjasto
Töölö Library Topeliuksenkatu 6, 00250 Helsinki 60°11′00″N 24°55′03″E / 60.18336°N 24.91747°E / 60.18336; 24.91747 (Töölön kirjasto, Helsinki) Toolonkirjasto2008.JPG Töölön kirjasto
Vallila Library Päijänteentie 5, 00550 Helsinki 60°11′32″N 24°57′45″E / 60.19218°N 24.96239°E / 60.19218; 24.96239 (Vallilan kirjasto, Helsinki) Leiviskä.valilla.png Vallilan kirjasto
Viikki Library Viikinkaari 11 B, 00790 Helsinki 60°13′40″N 25°00′46″E / 60.22767°N 25.01272°E / 60.22767; 25.01272 (Viikin kirjasto, Helsinki) Viikin kirjasto
Vuosaari Library Mosaiikkitori 2, 00980 Helsinki 60°12′31″N 25°08′36″E / 60.20873°N 25.14340°E / 60.20873; 25.14340 (Vuosaaren kirjasto, Helsinki) Café in Vuotalo.jpg Vuosaaren kirjasto

Closed branches[edit]

Library name Year closed Address Coordinates Image
Library 10 2018 Elielinaukio 2G, 00100 Helsinki 60°10′18″N 24°56′17″E / 60.17166°N 24.93815°E / 60.17166; 24.93815 (Kirjasto 10, Helsinki) Filunki Kirjasto 10.jpg
Kirjakaapeli 2005 Lasipalatsi, Mannerheimintie 22–24, 00100 Helsinki 60°10′13″N 24°56′13″E / 60.17035°N 24.93699°E / 60.17035; 24.93699 (Kirjakaapeli, Helsinki)
Kulosaari Library 2009 Kyösti Kallion tie 1, 00570 Helsinki 60°11′08″N 25°00′33″E / 60.18569°N 25.00913°E / 60.18569; 25.00913 (Kulosaaren kirjasto, Helsinki)
Punavuori Library 2004 Bulevardi 42, 00120 Helsinki 60°09′44″N 24°55′55″E / 60.16236°N 24.93195°E / 60.16236; 24.93195 (Punavuoren kirjasto, Helsinki)
Ruoholahti Children's Library 2015 Santakatu 6, 00180 Helsinki 60°09′45″N 24°55′10″E / 60.16259°N 24.91934°E / 60.16259; 24.91934 (Ruoholahden lastenkirjasto, Helsinki)


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Suomen yleisten kirjastojen tilastot" [Finnish Public Library Statistics] (in Finnish). 2020. Retrieved 2 October 2021.
  2. ^ Hirn, Sven (1998). Kansankirjastosta kaupunginkirjastoksi: Helsingin kaupunginkirjasto 1860–1940 [From the People's Library to the City Library. Helsinki City Library 1860–1940] (in Finnish). Helsinki: Helsingin Kaupunginkirjasto. ISBN 951-718-177-9. OCLC 56835899.
  3. ^ "Value of money converter". Statistics Finland. Retrieved 2 October 2021.
  4. ^ a b "160-year-old Helsinki City Library keeps up with its time, reaches residents with versatile services". Oodi. 10 May 2020. Retrieved 2 October 2021.
  5. ^ "Opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriön asetus yleisistä kirjastoista" [Decree of the Ministry of Education and Culture on public libraries]. Decree No. 660/2017 of 2 October 2017 (in Finnish).

Further reading[edit]