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Fancy a karaoke day at the library? Go to Tikkurila

An experiment by regional administrative authorities to find alternative uses for libraries has given rise to a highly popular karaoke booth at the Tikkurila library in Vantaa. Launched in March, the project provides wannabe crooners with a soundproofed booth to indulge their karaoke yearnings.

Lähikuvassa karaokelaitteen näytöllä kotiviini-kappaleen sanoja.
Anna Hanskin Kotiviini-kappale pitää pintansa karaokelaulujen kestosuosikkina. Image: Kia-Frega Prepula / Yle

What if you didn’t need the backdrop of a dim smoky bar or a wild weekend cruise to Stockholm to get in the mood for karaoke? What if you could belt out the best – or the worst – of broken heart ballads on a weekday and without being under the influence?

Turns out you can – at least at the Tikkurila library in Vantaa.

The library offers a space for karaoke-lovers to indulge their musical inclinations without the smoke, background noise, critical audience – or the booze. The karaoke experiment is part of a regional administrative agency development project to create new library services.

Service manager Villa Karinen said that officials hope the karaoke room will advance library patrons’ musical interests and lower the threshold to pick up the microphone.

"Traditionally, users could borrow records from music sections. We now see them as places where people can do things and learn something new," Karinen said.

Members of the public can use their library cards to reserve up to two hours in the sound-proofed karaoke booth. The room has a user-friendly karaoke machine with a catalogue of 3,300 songs.

"Anyone at all can sing karaoke. It’s part of the deal that you don’t have to be the best vocalist in the world. Everyone can perform with the voice they have and there’s no need to fear criticism here," Karinen pointed out.

Karaoke course instantly oversubscribed

The reservation list for the karaoke den features the full spectrum of locals: children, entire families, adults with performance phobia and even silver foxes from a nearby elder care facility.

Karinen said that the exclusive space attracts people who don’t care for the bar scene, but still want to belt out a few.

"Many people have seen that singing can also be fun without alcohol," he remarked.

Helsinki resident Anniina Rantanen found her way to the library’s karaoke room last spring when she participated in an adult education course titled 'Be brave- sing karaoke_'_. She’s since booked the space a few times during the summer to let loose.

"I get so nervous. Fortunately you can practice the songs in peace here and you can sing while you’re sober," she said.

The course itself was an overwhelming success, so much so that organisers have planned another for the autumn.

"The course dealt with the basics of singing and provided tips on how to use the mic and looked at ways to conquer stage fright," library official Karinen explained.

Rantanen, who has also done her fair share of barroom karaoke, said the library offers the peaceful environment needed to rehearse songs and to lower the threshold to perform in front of a live audience.

"My favourites are '80s ballads and other basic pieces. There’s a relatively wide selection of songs here," she added.

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