Model Programme for Public Libraries

Kultur styrrelsen



Case: Library 10 in Helsinki


Library 10 is an exciting example of how the performative space can be designed and used in a library context. The library has been set up in the old post office close to the main railway station in Helsinki City. It is a profile library with a main emphasis on music, IT and novelties. Library 10 is renowned for its unique atmosphere and its many events and activities. The limited 800 m2 are distributed so that about 20 % are allocated to materials and 80 % to people. In addition to a collection of music and travel and computer literature that can be borrowed, this is a place where users can create, show and publish their own cultural products. This cocktail has clearly been a success, as Library 10 has approx. 50,000 visitors per month.

From reading room to production and event place

Library 10 has accepted the consequence of the changing use of the library, where users now search for materials on the Internet. The foyer is therefore laid out for pick-up of ordered books, self-service book return, and a reading corner that opens every day at 8 am for the benefit of users who only come to borrow and return materials. The rest of the library opens at 10 am for users who want to do more than that. Many bring along their own PCs to work at one of the 40 mobile workstations, alone or with others. The library lends headsets, scanners, DVD players etc. to those who need these.

The library also provides help and equipment for people to publish books, and it has audio and video studios for rehearsing, recording and editing sound and images. Here, performers can borrow an instrument, use a soundproof rehearsal room, record and edit demos, and when the talent is strong enough, they can play live on the stage. They can also edit their images and videos using professional equipment and transmit them via social media such as YouTube and others. Finally, librarians are available as personal coaches who can develop, on request, a personally adapted listening programme that can introduce a user to a new music genre. (See text box.)

Library 10 has become the city centre's most popular event place. In collaboration with schools, artists and organisations, the library offers a number of events during the week, and at the 10 Club on Sundays, people can lounge about to music selected by a DJ, or they can participate more actively in panel discussions. All concerts, discussions and other events are recorded, preserved and made available on the library's website.

Flexible and user-based design

Library 10 has invested (like Meeting Point) in wireless technology and a flexible interior design based on a constantly ongoing user involvement process. The library's many computer stations, desks, terminals and other IT-related equipment are all equipped with wheels. Electrical outlets and data ports have been placed in the ceiling so that the space can be altered at any time in relation to new needs. As the bookcases are on wheels, the stage area can be expanded from a small exhibition area into a small concert hall in no time. The stage has professional sound and light equipment so that it is possible to transmit live from the library.

At Library 10, naturally, there is also room for vinyl. Photo: Signal Architects

Users and staff

Library 10 is located at the heart of Helsinki between the railway station and Mannerheimintie, the city's most important thoroughfare, and with its 50,000 visitors per month, it is the most visited library in Helsinki. However, the library's user profile is quite different to the other branches': 60 % are men, and 60 % are younger than 30. Only half of the visitors come to borrow, the rest read newspapers and journals, surf on the Internet or use the many facilities for their own culture production. Finally, quite a few come to participate in events and see exhibitions produced by the library's own users.

The library has a staff of 28 of whom the majority are qualified librarians who have continually specialised in audio and video editing and in the use of sound and light equipment. Other competences include presentation of events and concerts. New staff are trained in both media and library science. The library places great emphasis on maintaining a basic ‘library-like’ quality within all functions.

Library 10's ‘Lunch break disco’, where people can drop by, eat a sandwich and dance a little. Photo: Miikka Uunila, Library 10

18. Sep 2017 at. 13:56

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