Availability and use of materials

We offer our materials both as home loans and for reading room use. The materials from the National Collection and the manuscript collections as well as the materials published prior to 1900 can only be used in our library's reading rooms.


Home loans

The National Library of Finland's open collections loan out materials. Our open collections are the Humanities Collection, the Slavonic Library and the Finnish National Sound Archive (the Music Library). Taking home loans requires a valid National Library card. The loan period is four weeks.

You will find information on whether a work is available for home loan from our reference databases. Any possible restrictions are also stated in the information supplied for each work.

You can renew your loans either directly through the database or by visiting our library's customer service point. If another customer makes a material reservation for materials you have loaned out, you will be notified of this by email.

Reading room loans

The collections of the National Library feature a great deal of material that can only be released for reading room use. This means that the material cannot be taken away from the Library, and must be studied on the premises. To make an order for a reading room loan, you must have a valid National Library card.

Reading rooms in the National Library’s main building:

  • The General Reading Room is intended for researchers. Some of its researcher desks can be booked for six months at a time. Here visitors can examine such reading room material which has not been restricted for use in other reading rooms – primarily meaning works in the research collection, the open collection and the reference collection
  • The North Hall houses microfilm readers and workstations for digitised resources as well as the researcher shelves. Microfilmed newspapers ordered in advance as well as printed resources ordered by researchers with researcher shelf agreements are deposited on these shelves.
  • More reading desks are available in the upper floors of the Rotunda as well as the Aquarium, a mixed-purpose collections and reading facility along the corridor connecting the main building to Fabiania.

Reading rooms on the ground floor of the National Library’s Fabiania building:

  • The special collections reading room houses paper resources ordered from the National Collection as well as separately ordered works from the Library’s special collections, manuscript collections, the map collection, the newspaper collection as well as the older collections of the Slavonic Library.
  • Material ordered from the storage of the Slavonic Library is delivered primarily to the reading room of the Slavonic Library.
  • Recordings ordered from the Music Library will be delivered to the listening room of the Music Library in a digitised format.

An order form is required for all reading room loans. Delivery times vary by collection. Visitors travelling from further away should ensure that the material they ordered will be available at the Library at the time of their visit.

The National Collection (Fennica Collection)

The materials in the National Collection are granted for reading room use only. The materials you request will be delivered to Special Collections Reading Room.

Request the materials from the National Library search service

Orders from the National Collection (e-form only in Finnish)

The Humanities Collection

Materials from the Humanities Collection printed before 1900 will be delivered to the Rotunda. The loan period is four weeks.

Materials from the Humanities Collection printed before 1800 will be delivered to the Special Collections Reading Room.

Materials of the Slavonic Library

The materials in the Slavonic Library will be delivered mainly to the Slavonic Library reading room. Some of the materials will be delivered to the Special Collections Reading Room. Books that have been published before year 1950 will be delivered only as reading room loans.

The loan period is four weeks.

Special Collections

The materials from the Special Collections will be delivered to the Special Collections Reading Room.

The loan period is four weeks.

The Manuscript Collection

The materials from the Manuscript Collection will be delivered to the Special Collections Reading Room.

The loan period is four weeks.

Open collection

The materials of the open collection are immediately available to you in the library, without a separate material request.  Our open collections are the Humanities Collection, the Slavonic Library and the Finnish National Sound Archive (the Music Library). You will need a valid National Library card to take home the materials of the open collection.

The open collection has both home loan materials and manuscript collection materials. The manuscript collection materials must be viewed within the library premises, in our reading rooms. 

The Reference collection materials include the following material types:

  • The newest issues of the journals in the Humanities Collection
  • The Slavonic Library: the newest newspapers and periodicals, bibliographies, reference works and dictionaries
  • The National Collection: a selection of new Finnish science and cultural periodicals in the Reference Library, the Newspaper Reading Room and the Music Library
  • The Music Library: reference books, music journals
  • Microfilms:
  • microfilms of the Finnish newspapers from 1771–1945
  • the microfilms of most used Finnish newspapers also after 1945

In the National Library's serch service, the note is in connection to the information of the record, i.e. work, you are searching for: 'In open collection' (can be loaned out), 'In open collection. Not for home loan' (the materials are manuscript collection materials, i.e. home loan is not possible).

The Rules of Special collections reading room

Working in the special collections reading room

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The special collections reading room is used to study the most valuable collections of the Library.

To gain access, visitors must:

  • Present a valid National Library card. National Library cards can be requested from the Rotunda information desk, present a ID or passport.
  • Agree to follow the rules of the special collections reading room (details below).

Rules of the special collections reading room

The special collections reading room is a monitored space, and the rare and unique material inside requires exceptional rules of conduct which differ from those in the other reading rooms.

In addition, separate, detailed instructions on handling the material is available inside the reading room.

All material to be used in the special collections reading room must be ordered in advance. The delivery time varies between 1 and 3 business days, depending on collections.

Arriving at the special collections reading room

  • To use the special reading room, you will need a National Library card and a PIN-code. In order to get in the reading room, you will be required to show your National Library card to the card reader and enter your four-digit PIN-code. In case you have forgotten your PIN-code, you may renew it online or at the Rotunda service desk. When you leave the special collection reading room, our staff will open the gate for you.
  • Any baskets, bags, laptop cases or books must be left in the shelves and basket storage areas in front of the Slavonic Library. The attendant may allow you to bring in books if they are necessary for your research.
  • Pencils and paper, laptop and other small electronic devices (e.g., phone, tablet, camera) necessary for research are allowed in the reading room. No scanners are allowed.
  • The reading room attendant can help visitors to locate the material and use the catalogues.
  • Phones must be kept in silent mode in the reading room, and no phone calls may be taken in the reading room or in it´s immediate vicinity to preserve a quiet environment.

Handling the material

  • The material studied in the special collections reading room is unique, and special care must be taken when handling it.
  • Studying certain collections requires a special permission and can only be done under supervision.
  • The material can only be studied at the designated researcher desks.
  • Notes may be taken in pencil, on a computer or through photography. The following rules must be followed when taking photos:
    • Photos of printed works are allowed unless otherwise specified.
    • For manuscripts and the archive collections, a special photography permission must always be separately requested. Contact the manuscript collections (nationallibrary (at) helsinki.fi) before your visit to find out if photography will be possible.
    • Photos must be taken at the reading desk without disturbing other visitors and without flash. A small tabletop tripod may be used. The material must not be bent.
  • A scanner may not be used in the reading room.
  • Pencils and paper are available in the reading room for note-taking.

Exiting the special collections reading room

  • When leaving the special collections reading room, the studied material must always be returned to the designated shelf (National Collection) or to the reading room attendant (other material). Material to be returned to the collections must always be returned to the attendant.
  • Any item leaving the room must be presented to the attendant (books, notes, etc.).


  • The original material which has been microfilmed or digitised will not be delivered without a permission from the person in charge of the collection in question.
  • The special collections reading room attendant can give other instructions relating to use of the reading room or handling of the material. Visitors to the special collections reading room must follow the instructions given by the attendant.

Listening room

The usable copies of the sound recordings in our collections are delivered to the Music Library's listening room upon request. The information of the sound recordings and the speech recordings are available in the National Library's search service.

The Raita database for digitised sound recordings contains the information of sound recordings the digital copies of which can be listened online.

The collections showcased in the Music Library, the music literature and serial publications of the National Collection are available in the National Library's search service. Sheet music has been catalogued into the database, starting from 1977. The information of sheet music publications from 1801–1976 can be found in the Music Library's card index. The music manuscripts are viewed in the Special Reading Room. The music archives catalogue has the basic information of the library's composition manuscripts.

Digitized material

The customers of the National Library of Finland have access to electronic: books, journals, articles, sound recordings, maps, photos, reference databases andfull text materials.

Some of the electronic materials are freely available online, while a part of them can only be accessed with the login data of University of Helsinki or with a visitor ID. Some materials can only be used in the library.

More information on licenses and conditions of use of electronic materials