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.
1640
Academia Aboensis or Turku University is established.
1760s
First reading society, Bok-societet, in southern Ostrobothnia.
1776
The first Finnish-language newspaper, Suomenkieliset Tieto-Sanomat (News in Finnish), is published in Turku.
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.
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.

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.
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.
12
th
century
In the 12th century Finns are attached to the Catholic Church and integrated under the Swedish throne.
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.
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.
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.
1794
Läse Bibliotheket i Wasa, the first subscription library is established in Vaasa.
1802
The first library for common people grows as a side activity of the Regina elementary school in Anjala parish in southeastern Finland.
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.
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.
1890s
Social movements (rural youth clubs, temperance movement, workers’ associations) establish hundreds of libraries.
1908
First national library conference.

Kirjastolehti (Library journal) starts to appear.
1917
Finland becomes independent.
1921
State Library Bureau is established; first direct state subsidies for public libraries are distributed.
1929
The Finnish Research Library Association is established.
1945
Regular diploma courses to educate professional librarians start in Yhteiskunnallinen korkeakoulu (College for Social Sciences).
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.
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.
1998
New Library Act acknowledges the advent of the electronic and network services.
2012
The 78th IFLA Conference in Helsinki.
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