Tour of the New Helsinki City Library

Saturday, February 10, 1996 - 10:30 - 11:30 PM:

On Saturday, February 9, 1996, Hannu Taskinen, Principal Librarian for Public Libraries in Finland, took Mr. Napoli on a tour of the Helsinki City Main Library, the first public library in the world to put up its own World-Wide Web Server and Home Page. Below is a series of photos of this relatively new (opened to the public on December 22, 1986) major metropolitan library building. Most of these photos come from the library's own public relations brochures; others were taken by Mr. Napoli, using his libary's digital camera.

The new Helsinki City Main Library, a large, international public library, serving not only the over 500,000 people of Helsinki, but all of Finland and much of that part of the world with its extensive interlibrary loan activities, opened its doors to the public on December 22, 1986 - a Christmas present, you might say, to its citizens and a project which had been planned as early as the 1930's when the old Main Library, built in 1882, began to become too small for its growing collection and services.
Helsinki City Library
Photo courtesy of Helsinki City Library
To see MORE PHOTOS, click on picture above.

Mr. Taskinen started his tour with the lower level, coming through a large, rolling, metal gate where he and Mr. Napoli drove into the Library's subterranian Bookmobile and staff garage. They procede through the library's large, compact shelving areas and then went directly to the fourth floor and his Administrative Offices. From there, after depositing Mr. Napoli's computer in Mr. Taskinen's large modern office, the two of them then walked through each of the the library's public areas, starting on the fourth floor with its bright and airy skylights, and then proceded down to the third floor, where the main entrance is located, and its beautiful fountain/atrium and its large u-shaped wood circulation desk.


Helsinki City Library patrons working on the fourth floor above the large central atrium

Photo courtesy of Helsinki City Library

View from the fourth floor down through the central atrium of the Helsinki City Main Library

Helsinki's New City Library -7
Photo courtesy of Helsinki City Library
Mr. Napoli was impressed with the size of the building, its open and inviting atmosphere and use of natural light, the variety of its materials (a popular materials library to the core!), and the large number of people visiting the building early on a Saturday morning. The number of periodical titles in many different languages was also very impressive.

Helsinki's New City Library-4

Helsinki City Main Library
Music Department

Photo courtesy of Helsinki City Library

Some of the other items which caught Mr. napoli's eye as innovative was the conveyor belt built into the top of the circulation/return desk that moved returned materials quietly and efficiently to the back room where they were immediately sorted and placed on book carts for re-shelving in various areas of the collection. The libary also had the most attractive, functional stack lighting throughout the building that Mr. Napoli had ever seen in a public library.

Helsinki City Main Library
Music Service Desk

Helsinki's New Mail Library Circ Desk
Photo by Don Napoli with SJCPL's Digital Camera
Helsinki New City Library-5

Circulation Desk,
with Adult Department in background

Photo courtesy of Helsinki City Library
After this tour, Mr. Napoli worked on his e-mail in Mr. Taskinen's office, using the library's Internet connection. They then both left the library for lunch in downtown Helsinki and a short tour of the city. .

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Created 3/8/96; Last Modified 3/22/96