Oodi Helsinki Central Library, Finland
"It showed the people of Helsinki and Finland, media and decision makers alike, the important role libraries play in society"
Laura Norris, Service Manager, Oodi Helsinki Central Library
What have you gained from winning the Public Library of the Year 2019?
It was a fantastic recognition that made Oodi’s staff feel really proud and excited, as we had worked hard and put our hearts fully into the project of providing the best library experience for our customers.
Having been awarded such a prize, it also made the residents of Helsinki, including the City’s Mayor and other decision makers, increasingly proud of their new library.
What kinds of recognition and awareness did your library get from winning the award?
Helsinki Central Library Oodi has been extremely popular in its opening year with around 9 000 daily visits. Even before the award, we received a lot of international and domestic media attention, which only increased after winning the Public Library of the Year 2019 award. Never have libraries been so talked about in Finnish media. It showed the people of Helsinki and Finland, media and decision makers alike, the important role libraries play in society. Oodi’s staff has been invited to participate in various conferences and to tell the story of developing Oodi. Our aim has been to inspire others in their journey of user driven services and empowering the new way of working. This is how we make things happen in Oodi.
How did you spend the prize money?
We organized a big public event for the residents of Helsinki on the Citizen’s Square outside Oodi and invited the whole city to join. The Mayor of Helsinki gave a speech about the importance of libraries, and the lineup for the celebration party included top Finnish bands and artists.
Would you recommend other libraries to apply – and if so why?
Yes, definitely! Applying for the award forced us to bring clarity to our work and purpose. It also made our achievements visible to ourselves. This fostered a better self-understanding and stronger self-esteem. And then of course, the chance of winning the award! It is great for the city and residents to have a library that is acknowledged in this way. It gives us a great opening line when welcoming visitors: “Welcome to Oodi, the best public library of the year!”