Visitors rushed back to libraries in Helsinki

The visitor numbers of the City of Helsinki’s libraries increased dramatically in 2023. Borrowing volumes also grew, in addition to which the number of new library cards issued increased from the previous year to a total of approximately 40,000. The year 2024 has also kicked off with a bang, with the newly opened Kalasatama Library recording over 12,000 visits during its first week.
A man and a child choose children's books in the Myllypuro library's children's area.
The renovated Myllypuro Library increased its number of visitors a lot in 2023. Photo: Suvi-Tuuli Kankaanpää

It seems like the pre-COVID library boom is rearing its head again, as libraries in Helsinki recorded 24% more visitors in 2023 than in 2022. The total number of library visits recorded in 2023 was 8.1 million.

“The numbers of visitors increased especially at Myllypuro Library, which was renovated and expanded in 2022, and other libraries in East Helsinki, whose visitor numbers increased by a total of 31% compared to the previous year. Central Library Oodi also increased its number of visitors by 36%. It is a pleasure to see that people have returned to using library services instead of holing up in their homes following the pandemic,” says Helsinki’s Acting Director of Library Services Saara Ihamäki

Borrowing volumes increased by two per cent in Helsinki in 2023, with library visitors recording a total of 5.1 million loans during the year. Of particular note regarding loans are the increases in the borrowing of non-Finnish and non-Swedish materials and especially children’s collections. Libraries monitor population trends and borrowing figures closely, as a result of which procurement funds have been allocated specifically for the procurement of foreign language and children's and youth literature. Now the results of this work are starting to be reflected in borrowing statistics as well. 

The number of library cards issued by libraries in Helsinki increased by 6% compared to 2023, with the total number of library cards issued being over 40,000. Last year, a total of 246,970 people used library cards at Helsinki’s libraries. 

Opening of Kalasatama Library a great start to 2024 

For Helsinki City Library, 2024 got off to a festive start with the opening of Kalasatama Library on Monday 15 January. This marks the first time that the number of libraries in Helsinki has increased in the 21st century, with Kalasatama Library being the city’s 38th library. The new library has been enthusiastically received by the public, recording 12,056 visitors during its first week. 

“This is shaping out to be a great year for library services in Helsinki. In March 2024, the hugely popular Central Library Oodi is set to record its tenth millionth visitor. The attractiveness of the inner city will also be increased by Rikhardinkatu Library, the renovation plan for which is currently being prepared. April will also see the opening of the Finnish nationwide e-library. These developments will serve to further solidify Helsinki’s status as the capital of reading and literacy," Saara Ihamäki promises.