Customers have gradually begun to return to Helsinki’s libraries. People still go to libraries less often than before the pandemic, but borrow more at a time. Library staff are reminding people that they can once again spend time in the libraries and that all the services are available. Events are also taking place as they were before coronavirus.
In October, visits to the library were 32% less than in the record year of 2019 preceding the pandemic, but the number of loans was only 3% less than that year.
In September, visits were still 38% less and loans 11% less than in pre-Covid times, so the difference seems to be narrowing as each month passes.
During the autumn, loans of children’s materials have almost returned to the level they were at before the pandemic.
New materials borrowed during the pandemic
Library staff are hoping that people will again visit the libraries for voyages of discovery. During the pandemic, borrowing focused on popular books.
“Because the libraries had only limited services until the summer, people mainly came to pick up material they had booked in advance. They borrowed new works that had been widely discussed in public. Now that library services have returned to normal, it would be great if customers returned to make surprising discoveries between the shelves again," says Aino Ketonen, Service Manager of the Helsinki City Library's shared library network.
Hanging out in libraries is back
The traditional author events, storytelling, language cafés, lectures and reading circles are once again being held in libraries, as well as digital instruction and games evenings.
Currently, a series of concerts by the popular City Orchestra is also being held in the library, bringing chamber music to libraries all over Helsinki.
Work-, meetings-, and exhibition rooms as well as games studios can again be booked free of charge.
Movers borrowing drills and wheelbarrows
At the library, you can borrow tools, musical instruments, a cargo bike or skates - even season tickets for sporting events. The diversity of the selection surprises many.
You can’t get everything, but the selection is being regularly updated and, for example, more of the popular wheelbarrows and battery-powered drills are on the way.
You can also try out different kinds of devices such as a sewing machine, virtual glasses and a 3D printer. In one library, you can digitise VHS cassettes, in another you can play the piano and in a third you can book a complete recording studio.
“Libraries are part of many people’s everyday lives. According to surveys, restrictions on libraries are seen as difficult. I welcome all customers, old and new, to check out what's on offer in their own library now that life is returning to the city," says Katri Vänttinen, Director of Helsinki Library Services.
In the coming weeks, Helsinki City Library’s ‘Rakas kirjasto’ (dear library) campaign will highlight the diverse services available from libraries.