News 10.6.2015

Number of libraries has halved in 35 years

There were 790 public libraries in Finland in 2014, while in 1980 there were still more than 1,600 and good 4,000 in 1960. One major reason for the decrease is municipal mergers, where libraries have been combined into larger units. There are only one-sixth of institutional libraries compared to the 1980s.

Last year, libraries had a personnel corresponding to around 4,100 person years, which is some 11 per cent lower than in the peak year of 1991.

Public libraries in Finland, 1960–2014

More than four-fifths of library collections are still books

Even though the number of libraries has decreased, library collections have grown until the 2000s. The collections were at their largest in 2004, when they were more than sevenfold the size of the collections in 1960.

Calculated by library, the collections contained, on average, under 1,500 works in 1960 but in 2014 over 47,000.

Books still constitute the major part of library collections. Last year, public libraries contained good 33 million books. The number of books was at its highest in 2004, when there were over 37 million of them. As books decrease, the share of other material in library collections has increased to over 11 per cent, while in 1984 the share was still under three per cent.

Public library collections, 1960–2014

Lending of recorded music slowing down

Last year, public libraries lent close on 70 million books. The number of book loans was 17 per cent smaller than in the peak year of 1994. Lending of other material has also decreased. The increase in the size of libraries is also visible in the lending numbers by library: in 1960 the average number of loans per library was under 4,000, last year it was over 115,000.

Last year, public libraries had more than 2.3 million music recordings. The growth of the collections has halted in the past few years. Lending has dropped to under one-half since the turn of the millennium. The reason behind this is that listening to music online has become more common.

The growth of video recording collections in libraries has continued, even though their lending has started to decrease over the past few years. Altogether, libraries had close on one million video recordings in 2014 and they were lent more than 7.5 million times.

Loans from public libraries, 1960–2014

The Internet has decreased library visits

In addition to lending volumes, the numbers of library visits and lenders have also declined. In 2014, there were good 50 million library visits, while ten years ago there were nearly 67 million visits. Online visits increased rapidly in the early 2000s but they have also declined in recent years: last year online visits amounted to good 40 million, while two years ago they numbered close on 58 million. Last year, there were slightly over two million lenders, one-fifth fewer than in the peak year of 1997.

The statistical data describing libraries are extracts from an electronic table package on cultural statistics compiled by Statistics Finland. The table package is updated four times per year.

Further information: Jukka Ekholm,