Rainer Knapas: Kunskapens rike. Helsingfors universitetsbibliotek – Nationalbiblioteket 1640–2010 [In the kingdom of knowledge. Helsinki University Library – National Library of Finland 1640–2010]

9 August 2012 | Mini reviews, Reviews

Kunskapens rike. Helsingfors universitetsbibliotek – Nationalbiblioteket 1640–2010
Helsingfors: Svenska litteratursällskapet i Finland, 2012. 462 p., ill.
ISBN 978-951-583-244-3
€54, hardback
Tiedon valtakunnassa. Helsingin yliopiston kirjasto – Kansalliskirjasto 1640–2010

[In the kingdom of knowledge. Helsinki University Library – National Library of Finland 1640–2010]
Suomennos [Finnish translation by]: Liisa Suvikumpu
Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society, 2012. 461 p., ill.
ISBN 978-952-222-272-5
€54, hardback

The National Library of Finland was founded in 1640 as the library of Turku Academy. In 1827 it was destroyed by fire: only 828 books were preserved. In 1809 Finland was annexed from Sweden by Russia, and the collection was moved to the new capital of Helsinki, where it formed the basis of the University Library. The neoclassical main building designed by Carl Ludwig Engel is regarded as one of Europe’s most beautiful libraries and was completed in 1845, with an extension added in 1906. Its collections include the Finnish National Bibliography, an internationally respected Slavonic Library, the private Monrepos collection from 18th-century Russia, and the valuable library of maps compiled by the arctic explorer Adolf Erik Nordenskiöld. Renamed in 2006 as Kansalliskirjasto – the National Library of Finland – this institution, which is open to general public, now contains a collection of over three million volumes as well as a host of online services. This beautifully illustrated book by historian and writer Rainer Knapas provides an interesting exposition of the library’s history, the building of its collections and building projects, and also a lively portrait of its  talented – and sometimes eccentric – librarians.
Translated by David McDuff

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