National Library of Finland
|This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the Finnish Wikipedia. (January 2011)|
The National Library of Finland (Finnish: Kansalliskirjasto, Swedish: Nationalbiblioteket) is the foremost research library in Finland. Administratively the library is part of the University of Helsinki. Until 1 August 2006, it was known as the Helsinki University Library.
In addition to being the most important of the libraries of the University of Helsinki, the National Library is responsible for storing the Finnish cultural heritage. By Finnish law, the National Library is entitled to receive copies of all printed matter, as well as audiovisual materials excepting films, produced in Finland or for distribution in Finland. These copies are then distributed by the Library to its own national collection and to reserve collections of five other university libraries. Also, the National Library has the obligation to collect and preserve materials published on the Internet.
Any person domiciled in Finland may register as a user of the National Library, and after this, borrow library material for home use. The publications in the national collection, however, are not loaned outside the library. The library contains one of the most comprehensive collections of books published in the Russian Empire of any library in the world.
The National Library is located in a library complex in the heart of Helsinki, right by Senaatintori square. The oldest part of the complex, designed by Carl Ludvig Engel, dates back to 1844. The newer extension Rotunda dates to 1903. The bulk of the collection is, nonetheless, stored in Kirjaluola (Finnish for Bookcave), a 57,600-cubic-metre (2,030,000 cu ft) underground bunker drilled into solid rock, 18 metres (59 ft) below the library.
In 2011 the National Library of Finland welcomed a total of 166,300 customers. The library collections, the largest in Finland, comprised about 109 kilometres of shelf space. The collections included a total of some three million books and periodicals. Approximately 7.6 million pages of digitised material were viewed over the web. Some 224 million files were harvested for the Finnish Web Archive, which currently contains a total of 718 million files.
The library is divided into two principal buildings. The Library's main building was designed by architect C.L. Engel 1836 and was built in 1840-45.[contradiction] The annex is called the Rotunda and was built in 1902-06 by architect Gustaf Nyström.
Main building (Fabiania)
The Fabiania building, named after its address at Fabianinkatu, was constructed in three phases. The middle part of the building was built for the University of Helsinki's Departments of Chemistry and Anatomy in 1844-46[contradiction] by architect Jean Wiik. The wing facing Kirkkokatu was built in 1888-90 for the Department of Anatomy, and the wing facing Yliopistonkatu for the Department of Pharmacy in 1895-97. Both wings were designed by Gustaf Nyström. The Library moved into the building in 1998. In 1995-2001 the Fabiania and the Rotunda were renovated, and an underground passage connecting the two buildings was built. The project was designed by the architect's office Laiho-Pulkkinen-Raunio (architects Ola Laiho and Sinikka Selänne).
The University Library's main building is one of the best known examples of the late 19th century Empire style in Finland and an important example of the European official library buildings of its time. Fire protection was the main idea when the building was planned: the building is not connected with the University Main Building, and the Library block was surrounded by leafy trees; the halls and rooms are all vaulted. In the design of the façade and the beautiful interiors, C. L. Engel in a personal way connected components of Classicism with allusions to the classical world. Of Engel's three alternative drawings for a library building, Czar Nicholas I selected the grandest one. The halls are symmetrically placed, and the ground plan can be traced to the Baths of Diocletian in Rome. The outer and inner architecture is based on a system of Corinthian columns. The façade echoes the architecture of a Classical temple: the pilasters and columns and the entablature above them are fitted exactly proportionally to the University Main Building.
The Library's large halls are all connected with one another. The main axis from the street leads straight into the heart of the Library, the Cupola Hall, and continues into the Rotunda. The Cupola Hall is connected with the two side halls that today are reading rooms, the South Hall and the North Hall. In the beginning there was no furniture in the halls, just the wall shelves behind the columns that support the galleries. The books were arranged by discipline. The columns are coated with stucco marble, and each hall has its own colour scheme. The painted ceiling ornaments are from 1881.
The three halls form a unique suite of rooms in Finnish architectural history, an academic temple devoted to research and science. This was emphasised by placing the entrance opposite the main entrance of the Cathedral[which?]. In this way the library building became a component in the total architectural setting of the Senate Square and its political message, to emphasise the political connection with Russia by architectural means.
In the 19th century there were works of art and plaster casts of ancient Greek and Roman statues in the halls. One of the lunettes in the North Hall was replaced in 1904 by a large oil painting, "The Golden Age", by Magnus Enckell. The North Hall was converted into a reading room in the 1890s.
The work on the Rotunda extension began in 1902, and the new part was taken into use in 1906-07. It has six floors above ground. The semicircular extension is surrounded by radially placed bookshelves accommodating approximately 200,000 volumes. Fire safety aspects were taken into consideration, and the building has a framework of steel and reinforced concrete. It was a very modern building, the first of its kind in Finland. The staircases are of reinforced concrete, the window frames and the construction that carries the glass roof are of iron, and the windows are of armoured glass. Architect Gustaf Nyström placed his Rotunda at the back side of Engel's old building in a very natural way; the fittings are, however, in a typically early 19th Century Art Nouveau style.
Externally the pillars of the Rotunda are adorned with reliefs personifying the sciences by the sculptor Walter Runeberg.
The library yard was redesigned in 2001. The original iron fence and the trees are still on the Unionionkatu side. By the south wall there is a bronze bust of Czar Alexander I by Ivan Martos from 1814. It was originally ordered for the university in Turku, later it stood in the University's festivity hall and was placed in a library park in the 1950s. Near it is a memorial stone brought from Viipuri in 1988 that commemorates the book collector Matti Pohto.
Collections and services
The origins of the Helsinki University Library collections are usually thought to lie in the book collection of the Cathedral School of Åbo, which consisted of some 20 volumes and passed to the Royal Academy of Turku in conjunction with the Academy's establishment in 1640. After the Great Fire of Turku in 1827, the library was relinquished to the University of Helsinki.
Today, the library is responsible for the collection, description, preservation and accessibility of Finland's printed national heritage and the unique collections under its care. In short, the library completes the statutory duties required of a national library in Finland.
The library holds an almost complete collection of literature published in Finland or relating to Finland ("the Fennica collection")and extensive collections of other humanities literature. The library also holds several special collections (such as the Monrepos Library, the A. E. Nordenskiöld Collection, the Lapponica Collection and the Reenpää Collection) as well as special libraries (such as the Slavonic Library, the American Resource Center and the Music Library). In 2011 the library collections included a total of some three million books and periodicals. The online archive contained 718 million files.
As a service and development unit in the Finnish library sector, the National Library is responsible for maintaining the library databases of Finnish universities, universities of applied sciences (Fachhochschule) and public libraries. In addition, the library maintains several national databases, the most important of which are the National Bibliography of Finland (Fennica), the National Discography of Finland (Viola) and the Union Catalogue of Finnish University Libraries (Linda).
In addition, the National Library of Finland houses a large collection of manuscripts.
- Laki kulttuuriaineistojen tallettamisesta ja säilyttämisestä (1433/2007) Retrieved 2011-09-19
- Rakennussuma purkautuu. Yliopistolainen 5/99. Retrieved 2007-10-24. (Finnish)
- Keskustakampuksen kirjastojen kehittämissuunnitelma 1998–2005. University of Helsinki. Retrieved 2007-10-24. (Finnish)
- The National Library of Finland, Homepage
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- Official webpage (English)