Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Beacons of civilization

The newly reopened Student Library of the Helsinki University is a miraculous place: it was that already in the late 80's when I was mostly a very solitary figure exploring the dusty shelves of the book storage sections in the basement, but now they have thrown open to non-students also all the libraries of the individual humanities departments. History and English Departments are naturally my favourites, and of course the book storage (consisting of former course books, some printed in the 19th century) which is still there, such a lovely and eccentric book collection of a house, open to all now.

The public library system is still one of the wonders of Finland: amazingly well stocked and well equipped also for the net era. Nurmo municipal library, the brightest flame of my river valley (to quote a juvenile poem), was my earliest paradise - an odd, lonely boy, even when teenager getting drunk on words, not on cheap vodka. Then getting to Helsinki with having just noticed that I can read in English just as easily as in Finnish, was quite something indeed: whole worlds were opened. The Student Library, the British Council Library, naturally the University Library plus the Helsinki Main Library were beacons of civilization for me, they still are: besides love, books are the best we can show of us.


Anonymous said...


ilmoitusluontoisesti kerron vain, että kävin lukemassa tämän. Hyvä kirjastot!

T: Jyri (Järvenpääntie 640:stä)

Anonymous said...

I weep for the difference in approach from the Australian university libraries where it is seen to be an "efficiency" measure to regularly incinerate or compost "extra to needs" books from their closed collections.