I recently wrote about Helsinki and put my case forward for it being the city with the best looking libraries, though I am completely bias as I have only seen a handful of libraries outside of Helsinki, I stand by this.
There were two libraries missing from that list though mentioned. The first was Oodi, the new addition to Helsinki that I am eagerly waiting to visit, the second was missing intentionally.
The National Library of Finland
The National Library of Finland is one of the finest buildings that Helsinki has, from the inside at least. From the outside the building is underwhelming and you would have little reason to believe that the inside would be any better. For me this is why I enjoy it so much. It is overlooked, underappreciated and visited mainly for academic purposes, which some may argue is the only reason needed to visit a Library.
The library was designed by architect C.L Engel, who designed a large majority of the buildings surrounding Senate Square where the library is situated, including Helsinki Cathedral.
Hidden away in the centre of the building is a large open atrium with a glass domed roof, on each level of course more books.
The National Library is a legal deposit library, which means it has an obligation to keep a copy of any printed material, as well as audiovisual materials produced in Finland or distributed in Finland.
A large percentage of the collection is kept in an underground bunker drilled 18 meters down into solid rock known as Kirjaluola in Finnish or Bookcave.
The rooms are large and lined with books, tall detailed pillars support the upper levels and painted ceilings. It’s these features and details that make the National Library of Finland such a magnificent building.
For another building in Helsinki with a fantastic interior see Yrjönkatu Swimming Hall.
I was finally able to visit Oodi, Helsinki’s new central library, once it opened.