Espoo is the second largest city of Finland, with a population of approximately 240,000. It is part of the Helsinki Metropolitan Area. Espoo is the headquarters of Nokia. There are 14 libraries in Espoo; 3 of these libraries are in shopping centres, with a 4th coming 2009 and a 5th in 2010. There are also 2 mobile libraries.
Leppävaara District Library in Sello is the Main Library of the Espoo municipality. It is the busiest library in Helsinki.
Sello is the second largest shopping centre in Scandinavia, and was completed in 2005. There are over 160 shops and covers a total area 97,000 square metres, with 2,500 customer parking spaces. The library is situated adjacent to the shopping centre and pays market rent. The developers encourage libraries in malls, recognising their “civilising impact.”
Size sqm 5,846 square metres
Population 24,000 (Leppävaara)
Visits 825,000 visits (3,000 – 4,000 per day)
Circulation 1.3 million loans (4,000 per day)
Collection 180,000 books, total collection 225,000
Date opened Opened 11th of August 2003
Budget: 3,5 million euros
Rent: 1,5 million € per year
Library service provision is free in Finland.
An interesting offer is to “borrow a librarian” for 45 minutes You can book online to have a librarian help you with your information request.
There are over 100 pcs for customers as well as a computer classroom with 10 pcs. 20 pcs have Microsoft Office, photoshop and other software loaded. There is a meeting room that accommodates 50 people. A reading room with 40 desks provides a quiet area for people who wish to read or study. There are 12 self check units and 2 sorting machines. Espoo was a pioneer in self service in Finland. 2 soundproof music rooms house 2 pianos - 1 of which is a grand piano. These rooms are very popular – with over 650 bookings a year.
The aim of the library is to be a Cultural Department store – the Stockman (large upmarket Swedish department store) of libraries, with everything under the one roof. It is a place where everything happens.
Books and writing
There are a number of partnerships, especially with publishers and bookshops. The library hosts fantasy and creative writing groups for young people. It has also hosted NaNoWrimo, which is an online web 2.0 application that allows different people to write a novel in a month.
There are many multicultural programs held by the library. Regular bilingual storytimes are held in Swedish, Chines and Hindi. Many children are left in the library after school and homework help programs are being developed for them. The library organises multicultural mother and child groups for immigrant women, with storytelling and conversation. The main groups are Russian, Estonian, Vietnamese and Albanian.
Marketing and Promotion
The library goes to the shopping mall to promote itself, to read stories and play music.
One example of a promotional event was the Cuba evening, in partnership with the Friendship Association of Cuba. Finland has a close relationship with a number of countries including Cuba. The aim was to change the perception of what libraries do, and staff performed as the Salsa Sisters. The library also has a lot of promotional material on Youtube.
In partnership with a software company the library runs WelhoNet school for seniors with basic computer, internet and Web 2.0 classes.
Librarians visit the schools and also run games evenings outside normal opening hours for young people (eg Saturday evening) featuring for example World of Warcraft. There is a games room set up with 2 screens, however this is now closed during school hours as it was more popular than going to school.
The music studio has professional equipment including 2 keyboards, and Logic professional mixing software. It is booked constantly and workshops are booked out 6 months in advance.
Musical evenings are held regularly and studio workshops are conducted to show people how to use the professional software and hardware that is available in the music studio for mixing and editing. Hip hop and rap artists are invited and there is a music teacher on staff.
The biggest point of difference from Australian libraries is the size of the building. It is more than twice the size of Victoria’s largest public library. The rental cost of 1.5 million Euro a year (around $3 million Australian) illustrates the importance that the city places on its public library. It is a busy and attractive space, with very good facilities and a quality fitout. The emphasis on music and culture is also a point of difference with the provision of a fully equipped studio and 2 pianos, one a Steinway Grand. I wish!!