To commemorate its centenary, Finland, the most literate country in the world, has been given a ultramodern central library, with robots, 3D printers and where noise will also be authorized, reports AFP.
Devised for 20 years, the library will open its doors officially on December 5, putting an end to a year of celebrations to celebrate the centenary of the Nordic nation. This huge undulating structure of wood and glass, right in the center of Helsinki, the capital, contrasts with the austere Parliament building. Designed by the Finnish office ALA Architects, It is covered by 160 kilometers of Finnish spruce.
Call Oodi (ode in Finnish), the new library is intended to promote knowledge, learning and equality in a country considered the most literate in the world, according to a 2016 US university study, based on official statistics.
In the last days before the inauguration, the workers were working hard to finish the exterior of the building because in the glacial climate of Helsinki, the installation of the wooden panels turned out to be much more difficult and longer than expected. Inside, the public can enjoy up to 100,000 volumes.
But the place is also designed for fans of culture and technology, and has music studios, film assembly rooms, film and 3D printers and laser cutters, completely free access.
"Oodi gives a modern idea of what it means to be a library," explained Tommi Laitio, head of Culture and Leisure in Helsinki City Hall. "It's a house of literature but also a house of technology, music, cinema, and a house in the European Union, I think that all of that combined is associated with the idea of hope and progress," he says.
Another sign of progress: the army of robots to whom the transfer of the books inside the building was entrusted. Similar to small gray cars, they move between the elevators, dodging people and furniture, to take the books to the appropriate section, where the staff takes over.
Oodi gives a modern idea of what it means to be a library "
Tommi Laitio, Head of Culture and Leisure Time at the City Hall of Helsinki
According to the creators of Oodi, it is the first time that autonomous driving technology has been used in a public library.
The robots will become a family show for the 10,000 users who are expected to visit the library every day.
"I do not even know if we should say 'that' when we refer to them, because I'm sure people will find a name for this thing that is exploring the building," says Katri Vanttinen, responsible for Helsinki libraries, laughing.
Oodi will have areas dedicated to study, but silence will not be obligatory everywhere.
There is a special loft designed to meet and create where noise and disorder are even encouraged. Users can build objects, borrow music instruments or play the video game console.
"We are willing to talk constantly with users and staff to find out which behavior is the most appropriate in the library, but it is, surely, a place of noise and improvised activities of all kinds," explains Vanttinen.
The person in charge is particularly proud of the decision of the library not to separate the sections of children and adults. All will be on the top floor of the building: a large space 50 meters long, with glass walls on each side, under a roof in the form of a cloud.
"We believe that the noise that children make on this floor is a positive noise, we hear the future," he explains. 'The acoustics are well planned, so even if people are shouting somewhere, they will hardly be heard from another side'.
While in other parts of the world libraries are closing, Finland decided to support this project, which cost 98 million euros, a considerable sum for a country under severe cuts in recent years.
In Finland, the happiest country in the world according to the UN classification of 2018, 5.5 million people live and 68 million books are lent each year.
'Helsinki libraries are the second best public service rated behind drinking water', says Laitio. 'Libraries are very popular in Finland. And, regarding this project, an investment of 100 million euros, the protests that have been heard are minimal or none. In fact, people are truly happy and proud. '