Tikkurilan Library

It’s not the only example of Finland’s national obsession with playback singing.

A public library in Finland has found a new way to keep relevant to its users. It’s doubling as a Karaoke bar.

The library, located in the Helsinki suburb of Tikkurila, has installed a soundproofed karaoke booth where library cardholders can book a free two-hour session. While it might seem like sacrilege to introduce caterwauling singers into an environment where even loud page turning can normally get you shushed, Tikkurila Library clearly knows which way the wind is blowing. Since 1980, the number of Finnish pubic libraries has halved, and the tendency to consolidate many sites into larger branches makes smaller institutions particularly prone to be sidelined. By providing 3,300 songs to sing (and a suitably muffled isolation chamber in which to do so), the library is wisely pushing its role as a community meeting place.

But Karaoke? Choosing it as a crowd-puller is perhaps less odd than it sounds. This is Finland, after all, which founded the Karaoke World Championships in 2003 and where playback singing is a particular national obsession (well documented in this photo piece). This isn’t even the first time a Finnish institution has used Karaoke to attract more users. In 2014, Finnish State Railways installed a singing booth in the restaurant car of the Helsinki to Oulu express.

Finland’s karaoke library isn’t just about getting people to use a service whose popularity has dropped, however. It’s also about creating a third space for socializing. The Finns have a reputation for being hard drinkers—such is the high cost of alcohol taxes in the country (or so the popular truism goes) that if Finns are going to go to a bar and spend, they want to achieve an at least medium level of inebriation to make up for the cost. By providing a place to sing without drinking, the library is providing a space for people who are put off or intimidated by a boozy crowd. As library regular Anniina Rantanen told Finnish broadcaster YLE:

"I get so nervous. Fortunately you can practice the songs in peace here and you can sing while you’re sober."

This sounds like a healthy enough innovation for people who hate bars. Now all the rest of us need is libraries where you can read while drunk.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Environment

    A 13,235-Mile Road Trip for 70-Degree Weather Every Day

    This year-long journey across the U.S. keeps you at consistent high temperatures.

  2. Opponents of SB 50.
    Equity

    Despite Resistance, Cities Turn to Density to Tackle Housing Inequality

    Residential “upzoning” policies being adopted from Minneapolis to Seattle were once politically out of the question. Now they’re just politically fraught.

  3. Design

    In Paris, the Eiffel Tower Is Getting a Grander, Greener Park

    The most famous space in the city is set to get a pedestrian-friendly redesign that will create the city’s largest garden by 2024.

  4. A map of the money service-class workers have left over after paying for housing
    Equity

    Blue-Collar and Service Workers Fare Better Outside Superstar Cities

    How much money do workers have after paying housing costs? For working-class and service workers in superstar cities, the affordable housing crisis hits harder.

  5. Life

    Having a Library or Cafe Down the Block Could Change Your Life

    Living close to public amenities—from parks to grocery stores—increases trust, decreases loneliness, and restores faith in local government.