The new Oodi library in the center of Helsinki was warmly welcomed by book lovers, but the library also has features that attract tourists to tour the elegant building.
Oodi library in the capital of Finland was opened in December 2018. It has been a huge success since then. Stylish Nordic architecture and central location are the key reasons for the library’s success, but there is one more important factor that draws residents and tourists into the library: in addition to books, it has been designed for a variety of activities.
The library is located in a central area that was recovered from railway maintenance organization a few years ago. The large area next to the main railway station was occupied by railway tracks and large halls where trains were repaired and maintained. The main railway station stayed, but the maintenance center had to go. Now, Kiasma Art Museum, Music Center and modern offices stand next to the Oodi Library.
Navigation in the library’s open spaces is easy. The ground floor features a restaurant, cafe, hot dog kiosk, movie theater, information desk, and a selfie camera. The second floor is a large activity center, including music studios, video game rooms, meeting rooms, laptop desks, 3D printers, sewing machines, and tablets that can freely be used inside the library. Only in the third floor books are available, neatly set in white bookshelves. Nooks with comfortable chairs are available for book readers.
On the third floor, step outside onto a terrace. Open view to the Parliament House and Finlandia House (designed by Alvar Aalto) is wonderful.
Travel agents and tour guides have quickly discovered Oodi as a fascinating destination. Multiple small guided groups explored the building when I visited the library. Elegant, open and functional architecture, and a new mission (for a library) to provide facilities for activities clearly drew visitors’ attention.
When I visited the library in July, the vast majority of Finns are supposed to be on holiday somewhere in the countryside or in Central and Southern Europe, but practically all workspaces were occupied by people staring at their laptop screens. The most quiet section in the building was the large area in the third floor where bookshelves are standing.
Oodi is the largest public library in Finland, but its new functions are reflected in the book selection that is not the largest in the country. The selection covers about 100,000 books, magazines, newpapers and other media. The metropolitan area library network Helmet has also an extensive selection of ebooks.
The library is open Monday-Friday between 8am–10pm, and on Saturday and Sunday 10am–8pm. Library web pages provide all the details if you want to book a workspace or 3D printer, or whatever else you wish to do in there.
ALA Architects designed the Oodi Library.
All the key sights, places and events in Helsinki are introduced in the travel guide The Best of Helsinki, also featuring off-the-beaten-path recommendations from locals.