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Finland's flagship library so popular it's running out of books

As many as 5,000 books per day were checked out of Helsinki's Oodi library last month.

Tyhjiä hyllyjä Oodin kirjastossa Helsingissä.
Nearly-empty bookshelves at Helsinki's Library Oodi. Image: Markku Pelkonen / Yle
Yle News

Workers at Oodi, the country's newest and very popular library in downtown Helsinki, have been unable to keep most of their books on the shelves because so many people are borrowing them.

Around 66,000 books were borrowed from Oodi in December, but the library hadn't even officially opened until 5 December. Only about half of the borrowed items had been returned by the end of the month.

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Exterior of Library Oodi, (file). Image: Antti Kolppo / Yle

Now, roughly a month later, the library's bookshelves are largely bare, particularly in the children's literature section.

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Tyhjiä hyllyjä Oodin kirjastossa Helsingissä.
Nearly-empty bookshelves at Library Oodi. Image: Markku Pelkonen / Yle

Like other libraries in Helsinki, Oodi is part of the capital region Helmet network, which includes libraries across the neighbouring cities of Espoo, Kauniainen and Vantaa.

Jarko Jokinen, who's in charge of logistics at Helmet's centre in Helsinki's Pasila district, confirmed that Oodi is very popular.

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Virkailija käsittelee palautettuja kirjoja hihnalla Helsingin kaupunginkirjaston logistiikkayksikössä Pasilassa.
Worker processes books at Helmet library logistics centre in Helsinki. Image: Markku Pelkonen / Yle

He said that before Oodi opened, the centre processed about 15,000 borrowed books, CDs or other media from libraries across the region each day.

Library patron Matti Paso said he visits Oodi quite a bit.

"I live nearby; this is my reading corner. I come here many times a week," he said.

The lack of available literature on the shelves likely won't curb visitor numbers, however.

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Helsingin keskuskirjasto Oodi
File photo. Image: Henrietta Hassinen / Yle

Unlike more traditional libraries, Oodi offers much more than the opportunity to borrow books.

The sprawling facility in the city centre features things like 3D printing gear and sewing machines for creators, rehearsal rooms for musicians, a small cinema and spaces that can be reserved for a variety of uses. There's also a café as well as the possibility to try out VR technology.

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