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Oodi chosen as best new public library of the year

Oodi is a textbook case for the future of libraries.Tuomas Uusheimo

A global competition has announced that Helsinki Central Library Oodi is the 2019 Public Library of the Year.

The award was presented by the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA) in Athens, Greece, on Tuesday.

A total of 16 libraries competed for the top award, which is given to the best public library that is newly built or has been set up in new premises. The jury noted that Oodi “bridges concepts of equality, participation, citizenship and sustainability” and “will lead the way for central libraries throughout the globe”.

The judges noted that Oodi bridges concepts of equality, participation, citizenship and sustainability. Image: Tuomas Uusheimo

“ALA Architects designed an amazing and unique building that takes all the elements most desired by customers into account. The customers immediately made Oodi their own, which is our greatest success,” commentedAnna-Maria Soininvaara, director of Oodi. “The Public Library of the Year award tells us that the world has also taken notice of this.”

A great place, indeed

Oodi was recently also listed on Time’s list of The World’s Greatest Places, receiving praise for demonstrating what the libraries of the future could hold. However, Oodi is not just a success story in library services and architecture, it is also a triumph for the City of Helsinki’s service design thinking.

“Oodi was designed together with customers for a long period of time. We received more than 2 000 ideas from customers to serve as the basis of the architectural competition,” explained Soininvaara.

Engaging citizens in the planning phase has proven hugely successful. Visitor numbers exceeded two million only 10 months after the library opened its doors in December 2018.

“Everyone is welcome to come to library premises and spend time, study, work, hold various events and participate in them,” Helsinki City Library’s Lotta Muurinen and Antti Sauli wrote in June. “Libraries belong to everyone, as they are funded with tax revenue.”

By: Samuli Ojala