How are you? I'm pleased to know your city library because your library has a lot of wonderful qualities to be an excellent library. First of all, I'm not a…


Hi, How are you? I'm pleased to know your city library because your library has a lot of wonderful qualities to be an excellent library.

First of all, I'm not a native English speaker as you notice.

I'm a student who is doing some homework about your library is gonna give a presentation in front of my class mates. I'm in charge of gathering some information, so I have looked into the library homepage. And Let me ask you something. I need to gather some information, but I don't have much time and am not able to read all articles on the website because of my poor English.

I would like to know that you have a main library in Helsinki.

I figured out that you have many other city libraries, but I can't understand about Helsinki Central Library Architectural Competition.
Don't you have a central library in Helsinki. I thought your library already has had a building to provide customers a service. Am I right about that?

Can you tell me how's going with the competition?

Also, I can't understand the sentence that the home library for the 559 000 residents of Helsinki and the Central Library of our country's public libraries.

Does it mean you have one library? The library exists as the library supports two role like Home library and Central Library?

Please tell me that, I'm so confused but there is no one can tell me the information.

Thank you.


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I am glad to hear that you are interested in Helsinki City Library.

First of all, I wonder which page you were looking at to find the information you mentioned. Perhaps it was the home page of Helsinki City Library ( ) .

This may sound a little complicated, but I will try to help you understand the points you mentioned.

Helsinki City Library consists of the Main Library and 38 branch libraries. The Main library is situated in Pasila district about three kilometres from the city centre. It has the largest collections and also houses the administrative departments of whole Helsinki City Library. The branch libraries are situated in different areas all around the city. In addition to these, Helsinki City Library also has a mobile library (two library buses) and institutional libraries in some hospitals, old people’s homes etc. Here is a list of the libraries:

Helsinki City Library is said to be the “home library” of the residents of Helsinki simply because according to the Finnish Library Act every municipality in Finland has to provide information and library services to its own inhabitants, and Helsinki City Library is the library that provides these services for the inhabitants of Helsinki. So, Helsinki City Library is our “own” library. On the other hand, everybody has open access into every public library in Finland, and therefore we have many clients who live somewhere else and still use our services. Everybody is welcome to do that!

Helsinki City Library is also the Central Library of all public libraries in Finland. At the moment there are 336 municipalities in Finland, and according to the Library Act they all have to provide library services to their inhabitants. This means that there are roughly 336 public libraries in Finland, and Helsinki City Library is their central library. The central library has special duties. Being the central library means that Helsinki City Library coordinates cooperation between all public libraries in Finland and also between public and scientific libraries. It also organizes interlibrary loan services between public libraries in Finland and libraries abroad. It is also the central library’s duty to keep up a multilingual library. Therefore, Helsinki City Library has collections in about 70 languages. It also lends collections in foreign languages to other libraries in Finland.

So, yes, in a way you have understood correctly. Helsinki City Library has (at least) two roles: it serves the residents of Helsinki as their own library, and it is the central library of all public li-braries in Finland and serves them.

Now, as for the architectural competition. In English, the name of the competition may sound a little misleading and that is way you are confused. It is called the architectural competition of the Helsinki Central Library, but this does not refer to Helsinki City Library’s role as the central library of Finland. Instead, it means that a new library building is being planned in the centre of Helsinki City. Therefore it is called the Helsinki Central Library. The competition is going well. Originally there were hundreds of proposals sent to the jury. At the moment we have six best left. You can see their pictures here:…

One of these will be chosen to be built, and then hopefully we shall have a fine new library building downtown in 2017.

I hope all this helps you to understand how Helsinki City Library works. If you did not understand something or if you have further questions, please feel free to send a new question! I wish you luck in your homework!

Best regards,
Pauli Hatsala, librarian / Helsinki City Library, main library

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