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Heading to Helsinki?

A number of friends and colleagues are among the many lucky library folks heading to Helsinki this week for the IFLA World Library and Information Congress. I wish I could be among them. I’ve had two nice long visits to Helsinki in recent years, most recently for 2 weeks this past May. It’s a lovely city, big enough to be cosmopolitan and full of variety, but not overwhelming and exhausting. For me, it’s a “just right” kind of city. And it’s just a short train or bus ride to get out to the countryside, the lakes and the shore. Though I’m certainly not an expert on Helsinki, I wanted to share a some of my experiences & tips.

First, starting at the airport – visit the airport book swap room (Terminal 2, second floor, next to gate 27) and pick up or drop off a book. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to fill the place full of books from librarians all over the world. And maybe with a label of some sort that promotes libraries?

Bicycle lanes – Finns take their bike lanes seriously.  You should too.  If you’re an exhausted, jet-lagged tourist, dazzled by all the sunshine and find yourself walking down a bicycle stenciled portion of the street, (more…)

Helsinki Airport Book Swap

One design idea: via Inka

I’m spending some time in Helsinki this week & next. And thanks to Bobbi Newman’s Library Day in the Life project and twitter, I’ve connected with a number of librarians in the area. I’m really looking forward to meeting them and visiting their libraries. Will report back in with photos as I make those visits. Really love how many folks have suggested lunch, coffee and drinks meetings in addition to library visits! 🙂

But on to the Helsinki airport books swap. Prior to arriving in Helsinki, I’d been tweeting with the QualityHunters, an initiative of the Helsinki airport and Finnair focused on finding fresh ideas to improve travel. They’re in the process of setting up an airport book swap room that sounds very much like the wonderful Little Free Libraries that are popping up all over the place. True to Finnish style (Helsinki is the World Design Capital for 2012 after all), they’re looking for design ideas via a Pinterest board.

I’m so sorry I won’t be in Helsinki when the book swap room opens in late June, but with IFLA here in August, there will be zillions of librarians passing through the airport. Wouldn’t it be great if lots of IFLA attendees dropped a book at the book swap?

This also made me think of Jason Griffey’s LibraryBox project. How cool would it be to have Helsinki area libraries get together to put a LibraryBox in the book swap room with tons of free ebooks to download?

(I was so excited about Jason’s project that I almost bought the necessary equipment to bring with me to see if I could build one while I’m on vacation. I resisted! My luggage was almost overweight as it was!)

Now if only someone could tell me the Finnish for “move your blowtorch, the fumes are filling my apartment.” The construction going on 2 feet from this desk is making me crazy. Time to get out and visit a cafe or museum or walk around the harbor. Helsinki is a wonderful city, if you’re attending IFLA in August, enjoy!  Kippis!