Last year the average resident of Finland visited a public library about 10 times, making 18 loans. In the 2010 national library customer survey, over 70% of the 13,000 respondents said libraries had improved their quality of life somewhat or considerably.
According to the statistics, the Finns are avid readers and library users: in 2011 the total annual lending was almost 100 million items (18 per capita), the annual number of library visits was 53 million (10 per capita) and the internet services of the libraries were used 57 million times a year.
There is a public library in every municipality (320), and most of them also have branch libraries (486) and bookmobiles (154). The total material stock was 40 million items. Libraries acquired 2.2 million new items, an increase of 2.5 percent. Nationally, libraries' average cost per resident was 58 euros.
Library services available
Compared to the rest of Europe, Finland is sparsely populated (with only 17.6 people per square kilometre), but in terms of area (390,920 km2, of which 303,909 km2 is land) it is a relatively large country, which poses challenges to the accessibility of library services.
Finland has many municipalities whose residents are far away from libraries. The number of such municipalities is relatively the largest in Lapland and Eastern Finland. While residents in Southern Finland live a walking distance from a library, in Lapland the nearest library may be dozens of kilometres away.
Exhibition on Central Library architectural competition
The City of Helsinki is holding an open international architectural competition titled ‘The Heart of the Metropolis’ for the new Central Library. The first phase of the competition ends on 16 April. The competition entries will be exhibited at the Jätkäsaari Bunker between 10 and 16 May. The exhibition will be open on weekdays between 11 am and 7 pm and on weekends between 12 noon and 6 pm. Visitors will have the opportunity to comment on the competition entries.