Recent decisions from the Finnish government have cleared the way for Helsinki’s libraries to once again start lending out books and other materials. The Helsinki City Library network will resume its loan services at eleven locations on 8 May, with other municipal libraries following suit the next week.
Starting on 8 May, the public will be able to loan and reserve items for pick-up at libraries in the Helsinki districts of Etelä-Haaga, Kallio, Laajasalo, Malmi, Paloheinä, Pasila, Roihuvuori, Töölö, Vallila, Viikki, and the Helsinki Central Library Oodi. Other library branches in the city will start these services incrementally, beginning on 11 May.
Libraries in Helsinki have already started accepting returns via return chutes or temporary return facilities. Current loans will only start to come due starting in early June, so there is no rush to return loaned material. It will be possible to start reserving new items for pick-up via the online Helmet service as of 11 May. See www.helmet.fi/en for more details.
For the rest of the month of May, library customers will be asked to quickly take care of their transactions and make use of loan and return automats instead of interacting with library staff. All library spaces that are not necessary for loan services will remain closed, meaning that customer computer stations, magazine reading rooms and other such areas will be off-limits and no events will be hosted. Only basic services will be available: loans, returns and reserved item pick-ups, until restrictions on the use of public spaces are lifted on 1 June. The second floor of Oodi, for example, will remain closed in May.
Helsinki library opening hours will also be reduced in May, and on Saturday, 9 May, only the Oodi branch will be open to the public. Check the opening hours of your local library at helmet.fi/en-US/Libraries_and_services before you leave your home for a visit.
The Helsinki Central Library Oodi will be open in May from 8 am to 8 pm on weekdays and 10 am to 6 pm on Saturdays. People who are considered members of risk groups are encouraged to visit Oodi and the library in Töölö on weekdays from 8 am to 10 am.
“It came as a big surprise to the libraries to hear that the government had decided to authorize the immediate start-up of our operations. We were prepared to resume services on 14 May at the earliest. Nevertheless, we are more than happy to rise to the challenge and open sooner. I’m very proud of the flexibility and creativity Helsinki library employees have shown in making it possible to open loan services at close to a eleven branches by Friday, 8 May. Next week we’ll see more personnel returning to their work from reassignments elsewhere in the city, and loans will resume at numerous libraries, with the entire Helmet network at our disposal,” says Katri Vänttinen, the City of Helsinki’s library services director.
Special precautions will be made to ensure the safety of customers and staff and safety instructions will be posted at each of the library branches. To prevent the spread of the coronavirus, customers will be asked to observe proper hand hygiene and keep a safe distance from others during their visits. Do not visit the libraries if you are ill.