Museums in Ostrobothnia

Finland’s Library Museum

biblioteksmuseum7226
biblioteksmuseum7296
biblioteksmuseum7331
biblioteksmuseum7226
biblioteksmuseum7296
biblioteksmuseum7331
Did you know...
In the “Poison Cabinet” of the library are so called forbidden books.

Finland’s first library was established in Vaasa already in 1794. The Library Museum provides a versatile picture of the history of the library with the help of artefacts, books and pictures. Historical book collections share the space with the museum’s alternating exhibitions.

The roots of Finland’s first library are in the Waasa Reading Library (Waasan Lukukirjasto), which was established by some members of the Vaasa court of appeal in 1794 for “their own amusement and to pass the time”. Other citizens were also allowed to use the library for a small fee. The library had a wide collection of books and maps as well as portraits and copper drawings. It is not likely, that the art items were lent, but the beginning of an art rental shop of a sorts was, however, there. The Reading Library operated until 1845, when the censorship regulations of the Russian rule forced it to close its doors. There are 30 works in the museum today, which remain from the original Reading Library.

After the Reading Library closed down the citizens of Vaasa were left without a library for five years. Lecturer Oskar Rancken stepped up, and the new library operated until the beginning of the 20th century. In the attic of the Palosaari library was discovered in the 1930s a collection of preserved tomes from the library in question. The tomes were bound in black leather backs, and therefore the collection has received the nickname “The Black Library”.

Among the pearls of the museum are some of the first books printed in Finnish. They have been printed before the year 1850 and mostly deal with religious and spiritual subjects as well as psalms and hymns. In the Wankikokoelma i.e. works printed before the fire of Vaasa in 1852 can be found also other fascinating historical books. In addition on display in the museum is literature from the Londicer printing house. It started its activity in 1776 and was Vaasa’s first – as well as Finland’s second – printing house. In the so called “Poison Cabinet” are stored books, that were forbidden at different times. The glass windows of the cabinet have been covered with paper in order to hide the books from view.

In the exhibition displaying the library’s activity during different periods are represented for instance the borrowing of books, various card file systems and recounted, how Robert Fortelius, “Mr Internet”, brought the Internet to libraries in the mid-1980s. Finland was the first country in the world to offer the Internet connection in libraries.

Interesting lecture series on diverse themes are arranged in the museum, for instance on books, that have been forbidden during different centuries. Alternating exhibitions associated with the world of libraries or literature are also organized at the museum.