Confirmed by the director of the National Library of Finland on 25 Nov 2013

General instructions

The mission of the National Library of Finland is to support research, teaching and learning. The National Library is open to all. Instructions for using the Library and handling its resources are provided in the facilities of the Library and on its website. Separate rules have been confirmed for the Library’s special reading room.

Library facilities


  • The facilities of the National Library are open to the public.
  • Large bags and outdoor clothing must be left in the designated area.
  • Eating and drinking are permitted only in the café.
  • Photography and laptops are permitted if they are not harmful to the other users or resources of the National Library.
  • Mobile phones must be set to silent mode. Customers cannot talk on their mobile phones in reading rooms, reader seats or their close proximity.
  • Customer workstations are intended primarily for research work, and their use for other purposes can be restricted or prevented.
  • The National Library cannot be held accountable for belongings left in the facilities.


Library cards and customer duties

  • Customers who wish to borrow resources must have a library card (Helka card) with borrowing rights. Such cards are available to those who have turned 15 and have a Finnish personal identity code and a street address in Finland.
  • Exchange students and visiting researchers of the University of Helsinki can also be issued a Helka card with borrowing rights regardless of the above conditions. Other non-Finnish customers who do not meet the above conditions can consult items in reading rooms.
  • Customers who receive a library card agree to follow the rules of the National Library and other Helka libraries. Detailed information about the terms and conditions of the Helka card can be found on the following website:
  • Customers are entitled under the Personal Data Act (523/1999) to view their personal data stored in the National Library customer register.
  • Library cards are personal and cannot be transferred to others. Customers must prove their identity on request. 
  • Items borrowed from the National Library must be returned by the due date specified for each item.
  • If an overdue item is not returned despite requests, the user will be suspended from further borrowing from all Helka libraries until the item is returned or payment for a replacement is made.
  • Unreturned items and unpaid charges will be pursued through a debt collection agency and, if necessary, legal proceedings.
  • Customers are liable to reimburse the National Library for any damage caused to its material.
  • Items on loan cannot be taken outside Finland or transferred to others.


Interlibrary loans

Items available to National Library customers can be requested by other libraries via the interlibrary loan service. Microfilm copies can also be borrowed if unavailable at other Finnish libraries.

Moreover, libraries can request other copies if permitted by legislation, agreements and the condition of the relevant resources.

The National Library can request loans and copies from other Finnish and international libraries on behalf of its customers. Separate fees are payable according to the valid pricelist.

Reading room service

The National Collection is an archive collection maintained by law (Act on Collecting and Preserving Cultural Materials 1433/2007) to preserve the Finnish published heritage for coming generations. Consequently, the collection resources can be used only in the reading rooms and mostly for research purposes. Finnish resources should primarily be borrowed from other collections or libraries. If the National Library digitises or microfilms material, such surrogate copies can be consulted, but the original items can be made available only for justified research purposes.

Similarly, the historical and archive collections of the National Library (i.e., pre-1900 material in the general collection and pre-1950 material in the Slavonic Library as well as the special and manuscript collections) can be consulted only in the reading rooms.

The National Library may restrict the number of items available at a time for use in the reading rooms. Library resources must be handled with care because of their unique value. Instructions for handling material are available in the reading rooms.

The material in the Finnish National Sound Archive can be used in the National Library’s listening room. Recordings can be digitised for customers on request and delivered as either physical copies or files on workstations. Copies of recordings cannot be provided for customers to own.

The material in the reference collection can be consulted only in the National Library facilities.

Restrictions on using the collections

As a rule, the collections of the National Library can be freely used by all. However, some exceptions apply.

  • The use of private archive material is based on the assignment agreement of each archive. Information about the right to use such material can be obtained from National Library staff.
  • The Act on Collecting and Preserving Cultural Material stipulates that electronic legal deposit material can be consulted only on designated workstations (Copyright Act 404/1961). No digital copies can be made of electronic resources.
  • Resources that the National Library has digitised and that are protected by copyright can be used only on legal deposit workstations. No digital copies can be made of them.
  • Under the Act on the Openness of Government Activities (621/1999, section 24), the right to use confidential material can be requested from the director of the National Library. The director can grant permission only under the criteria provided by law for research use.
  • The National Library may restrict the use of material that is valuable, rare or in poor condition. 

Copies of library resources

Customers can make copies of material available for borrowing or included in the reference collection. The self-service copying of items in the National Collection or historical, special and archive collections is forbidden to ensure the preservation of such items. As a rule, customers can take photographs of items with their digital camera. They can also request digital copies of copyrighted material, but must first seek the permission of the copyright holder for copying the material and publishing the copy.

Use of licensed electronic material

When using material licensed for use by the University of Helsinki, customers agree to follow the terms and conditions of such material. The commercial use of the material or its parts is forbidden. The material can usually be browsed and used for information retrieval, and a reasonable amount can be printed and saved. The systematic distribution of material, its modification or its harvesting with software are forbidden.

Restriction of user rights

The National Library may ask a customer whose behaviour is disruptive to leave the premises. Violations of the National Library’s rules or disruptive behaviour may lead to temporary suspension from the National Library. A suspension decision can be appealed with the rector within 14 days of receiving the decision.