In Finland, libraries are the second-highest rated public service. The first, is drinking water. Municipalities MUST have a library, and so the country boasts 853 public libraries in total. The newest is Oodi, built on the most prestigious piece of land in the country—directly across from the Finnish Parliament.
Do all of these things sound strange? In North America, where library services are being cut left and right, and many libraries are closing their doors all together, the idea of libraries being not only essential services, but revered, sounds downright perfect! At least to this librarian.
Oodi has been 20 years in the making, built to celebrate the country’s 100th anniversary, and made to be not only a gorgeous design, but full of the practical and wistful alike. But here is where it gets really fascinating—only one floor of the building is dedicated to books!
We are well aware that libraries aren’t simply for books anymore. They’ve long been places of exploration, of creativity, of social meeting spaces, and digital resources. But Oodi takes this to the next level. There is a restaurant, a cinema, and a meeting space. They house “skills labs”, where people can go to learn new things, like using 3D printers or musical instruments. And eventually, a space with a kitchen and large public room might be the destination of birthday parties or other celebrations. And don’t worry, you’ll still find librarians. They wander the floors, helping people access all of the amazing things within the walls, making sure no one leaves without a satisfying experience.