The library for art and music lovers (5/5)

A job at the library

In the beginning of the 1960s when Emmi Martin applied for a job at the library it proved essential that she could explain the Pythagorean theorem. At first she worked three hours a day. The library head was Uuno Saarnio, and in his time lectures were held at the library on logic and philosophy for patrons as well as library personnel. The academic lectures were numerous.

The same building housed the library administration, the library’s book store and an administrational department for the branch libraries. It was thought important that people should have a library close to their homes, and therefore the number of branch libraries grew.

When Bo Carpelan worked at the library, he purchased books in Swedish and in other languages. Emmi recalls that he used an old card cathalogue drawer for the notes to his book “Axel”.

A book selection committee chose the books

It was the library’s responsibility to educate and add to the knowledge of its customers. A book selection committee chose the books that were added to the collections. Detective and romantic fiction as well as comics were not approved of.  In the 1960s the attitudes changed, and the Oulunkylä library was allowed to buy the Angelica books. The first comic books in the Helsinki City library were Hergé’s Tintin series.

In 1992, the British Council in Helsinki donated its library to the Rikhardinkatu library.

Numerous authors as well as actors in Helsinki have worked at the old main library. Many of the library workers in Helsinki have at one time or another also worked at Rikhardinkatu library.


This series was compiled by Emmi Martin, Barbro Aittola and Chris Gurney