Finns are avid readers and library users
Last year the average resident of Finland visited a public library about 10 times, making 18 loans. In the 2010 national library customer survey, over 70% of the 13,000 respondents said libraries had improved their quality of life somewhat or considerably.
According to the statistics, the Finns are avid readers and library users: in 2011 the total annual lending was almost 100 million items (18 per capita), the annual number of library visits was 53 million (10 per capita) and the internet services of the libraries were used 57 million times a year.
There is a public library in every municipality (320), and most of them also have branch libraries (486) and bookmobiles (154).
The total material stock was 40 million items. Libraries acquired 2.2 million new items, an increase of 2.5 percent.
Nationally, libraries' average cost per resident was 58 euros.
Library services available
Compared to the rest of Europe, Finland is sparsely populated (with only 17.6 people per square kilometre), but in terms of area (390,920 km2, of which 303,909 km2 is land) it is a relatively large country, which poses challenges to the accessibility of library services.
Finland has many municipalities whose residents are far away from libraries. The number of such municipalities is relatively the largest in Lapland and Eastern Finland. While residents in Southern Finland live a walking distance from a library, in Lapland the nearest library may be dozens of kilometres away.
In accordance with the Finnish Public Library Policy 2015 services must be offered along peoples everyday routes, at an easy distance and at times suitable for users. The availability of library services depends on the number of library units, their opening hours and the offering of mobile library services.
In over half of the Finnish municipalities, less than half of the residents live within two kilometre distance from a library. What improves accessibility is that half of the libraries are located close to a school and nearly a fourth near a day-care centre. Nearly one-third of town and city libraries were open in accordance with the recommendations.
According to the 2008 community survey on services provided by municipalities, library services were the source of greatest satisfaction, with 75% of residents pleased with them. In the 2010 national library customer survey, over 70% of the 13,000 respondents said libraries had improved their quality of life somewhat or considerably.
Comparable statistical information on Finnish municipal public libraries covers several decades. The information is used for development, decision-making and evaluation at local, regional and national level.