Chronology of 
 Finnish 
 Library History 


Ilkka Mäkinen
Lecturer, Docent
School of Information Sciences, University of Tampere


Ilkka Mäkinen
1488
The first book especially dedicated for use in Finland, a Latin Dominican missale, Missale Aboense, is printed in Lübeck.
[1488] Frontis-piece of Missale Aboense digitized by the National Library
1640
Academia Aboensis or Turku University is established.
[1640] Title page of one of the first doctoral dissertations of the Academia Aboensis, printed in 1642
1760s
First reading society, Bok-societet, in southern Ostrobothnia.
[1760] The list where the members of the Bok-societet wrote their names.
1776
The first Finnish-language newspaper, Suomenkieliset Tieto-Sanomat (News in Finnish), is published in Turku.
[1776] An issue of Suomenkieliset Tieto-Sanomat in May 1776
1801
A commercial lending library is opened in Turku.
1809
Sweden is forced to cede Finland to Russia; Finland becomes a Grand Duchy in the Russian Empire, but retains its Swedish legislation and administrative structures.
1828
Carl Axel Gottlund invents the modern Finnish word for library, kirjasto.
1830s
and 1840s
20 libraries for the common people are founded in Finland.
1866
A recommendation to establish libraries in primary schools is included in the Decree on Primary Schools.
1882
The first building for a public library is erected for the Helsinki City Library with funds from the liquor taxation.

The association Svenska folkskolans vänner (Friends of the Swedish primary school) is created to promote popular education and libraries for the Swedish-speaking common people in Finland.
Richardinkatu Library, Helsinki
1895
The total number of libraries exceeds 1000.
1910
Finnish Library Association is founded.
1912
The city library in Turku is reorganized as the first public library in Finland according to the modern principles (e.g. open shelves).

The first professional course for librarians (two weeks).

Number of libraries rises above 2600.
[1912] Turku Library, Bibliotheca
[1912] Students and teachers of the first course for librarians in 1912
1928
The Law on Popular Libraries is passed in Parliament.
1938
The Swedish Library Association of Ostrobothnia and the Swedish Library Association of Southern Finland were founded in 1938
and respectively 1945.
1947
The Finnish Association for Documentation (today The Society for Information Specialists) is established.
1950
Report of the State Committee on Public Libraries is published, but it takes more than ten years before its recommendations are put in practice.
1965
The 31st IFLA Conference in Helsinki.
1971
The chair in Library and Information Science is established at the University of Tampere.
[1980s] The main building of the Tampere City Library, inaugurated in 1986
1989
The National Repository Library is founded in Kuopio. It receives books and other publications from all types of libraries.
1993
The joint database LINDA for Finnish university and college libraries comes into operation.
1997
The purchasing of e-resources is concentrated in the Finnish National Electronic Library consortium (FinELib).
2007
Public lending right compensation system based on circulation is established.
[2012] Kaisa House, Helsinki University's brand new Main Library
12
th
century
In the 12th century Finns are attached to the Catholic Church and integrated under the Swedish throne.
[12th century] Detail of the map by Olaus Magnus 1539
Middle
age
During the Middle Ages there are a number of monasteries and convents in Finland with libraries and manuscript production. Only fragments of the medieval books have been preserved.
[Middle age] A page of the Graduale Aboense
1548
After the Lutheran Reformation, in one of the first books printed in Finnish, a translation of the Gospels, Se Wsi Testamenti, Mikael Agricola uses for the first time a Finnish-language word denoting the library, kiriacammio (book chamber). This word is in use until the beginning of the 19th century.
[1548] Title page of the Gospel according to St. Matthew, printed in 1548
1686
Church Law stipulates that each man and woman must know how to read before they are admitted, e.g. to marry.
1771
The first Swedish-language newspaper edited in Finland, Tidningar Utgifne Af et Sällskap i Åbo (News Published by a Society in Turku), begins to appear in Turku.
[1771] First issue of Tidningar Utgifne Af et Sällskap i Åbo
1794
Läse Bibliotheket i Wasa, the first subscription library is established in Vaasa.
[1794] A satire based on Goethe’s Werther that has belonged to the Vaasa subscription library
1802
The first library for common people grows as a side activity of the Regina elementary school in Anjala parish in southeastern Finland.
[1802] Part of the books that belonged to the Regina Library
1827
The city of Turku burns. The university and its library are destroyed. After the fire the university is moved to Helsinki, the new capital of Finland. During the 19th century the university library is restored and becomes the de facto national library of Finland.
[1827] The building of the National Library, inaugurated in 1845
1856
Archbishop Edvard Bergenheim starts a campaign to establish libraries supported by Finnish nationalist young clergy and other educated people; by the early 1860’s the number of popular libraries exceeds 100.
1874
Kansanvalistusseura (Society for Popular Enlightenment) is founded to publish good literature at low price for the common people and to support popular libraries.
[1874] A booklet published in 1895 by the Society for Popular Enlightenment to promote libraries
1890s
Social movements (rural youth clubs, temperance movement, workers’ associations) establish hundreds of libraries.
[1890s] Popular libraries founded during the years 1802-1912 in Finland
1908
First national library conference.

Kirjastolehti (Library journal) starts to appear.
[1908] Cover of the first issue of Kirjastolehti
1917
Finland becomes independent.
Flag of finland
1921
State Library Bureau is established; first direct state subsidies for public libraries are distributed.
[1921] Ms. Helle Cannelin (later Kannila) was the first head of the Library Bureau
1929
The Finnish Research Library Association is established.
1945
Regular diploma courses to educate professional librarians start in Yhteiskunnallinen korkeakoulu (College for Social Sciences).
[1945] Students and teachers of the first diploma course for librarians at the College of Social Sciences in 1946
1960s
Beginning of the 1960s the number of libraries exceeds 4000.
1961
The new Law on Public Libraries is passed in Parliament; a radical increase in state subsidies for public municipal libraries.

Lending right compensation grant system is organized.
[1960s] The first mobile library of Kuhmo municipality (northeastern Finland) serving school children in the 1970s
1982
The Swedish Library Association of Ostrobothnia and the Swedish Library Association of Southern Finland joined forces to form Fin­land’s Swedish Library Association.
1986
New Library Act.
1990s
End of the earmarked state subsidies for municipal libraries. The responsibility to maintain and develop public libraries rests on the municipalities.

Public libraries begin on a large scale to adopt computerized systems and connect to the Internet.
1994
The yearly circulation of books, CDs and other media in public libraries exceeds 20 items per inhabitant; the Finnish portal for public libraries, Kirjastot.fi (Libraries.fi), is opened.
Statistic: yearly circulation per capita in Finnish libraries 1950-2011
1998
New Library Act acknowledges the advent of the electronic and network services.
2012
The 78th IFLA Conference in Helsinki.