Central Library Oodi is turning five years old. Photo: Kuvatoimisto Kuvio

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Oodi Central Library, Helsinki’s celebrated public library, is set to commemorate its fifth anniversary on December 5th, 2023. Since its opening on the eve of Finnish Independence Day in 2018, Oodi has not only become the city’s most frequented library but also a major cultural and literary hub, attracting nearly 10 million visitors to date.

Gifted to the nation on the 100th anniversary of Finland’s independence, Oodi's grand opening saw an overwhelming attendance of 55,000 visitors.

This enthusiasm has only grown, with the library gaining international acclaim, including a feature on the cover of The New York Times. Oodi reached its first million visitors in less than four months and is on track to welcome its ten-millionth visitor in early 2024.

Oodi has redefined the role of a library in urban space. Designed collaboratively with input from city residents, it has become a symbol of inclusivity and public engagement. This year, visitor numbers are expected to match the pre-COVID record set in 2019, underscoring Oodi's significance in Helsinki's social and cultural landscape.

Director Anna-Maria Soininvaara highlights the library's foundational values of equality and freedom of expression. “At Oodi, everyone from businessmen to families, students, and the homeless find a welcoming space. We are dedicated to providing services that cater to the diverse needs of our visitors," she says.

As a literary house, Oodi has recorded over 478,000 loans this year, contributing significantly to Helsinki City Library's overall lending. The library has hosted more than 170 literature-related events, attended by over 9,000 people. Oodi also initiated the Oodi Book Fest and awarded the inaugural Oodi poet of the year in 2023.

Oodi’s success stems from its dynamic approach to service development, piloting projects that are often adopted by other libraries nationwide. The staff, working in self-managed teams, focus on agile service development and customer engagement. Partnerships with cultural, literary, and non-governmental organizations are key to Oodi’s operations.

The library’s fifth anniversary will be celebrated with a diverse program starting from 14:00 on December 5th. The festivities include performances by the schlager orchestra Vallilan Tango, clown shows for children, an open day at the Urban Workshop, and literary discussions featuring notable figures such as Helsinki Mayor Juhana Vartiainen and author Philip Teir.

Oodi’s blend of cultural offerings, innovative services, and community-focused approach makes it much more than a library – it’s a vibrant meeting place and a testament to the evolving role of libraries in modern cities.

HT

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