undefinedEspoo City Library

The Award is made annually to public libraries outside the UK.

In making the Award, the chair of the judging panel, David Lindley of Designing Libraries said: "Finland’s libraries are the second highest-rated public service after drinking water! The judges commended Espoo City Library as a fine example to the world of an open and innovative service for everyone, with an enormously successful reading challenge open to all ages. Its locations and its community programs ensure it reaches the hearts and minds of everyone in the city, embracing new technology and reaching out to the elderly, special needs groups and refugees." 

In the submission, Ellen Karhulampi, Library Services Manager, said: "Espoo is the second largest city in Finland, but we don't need a monumental main library - our services are integrated and spread among the daily life of people. We have nearly 20 libraries, two mobile libraries plus a free home delivery service for those unable to access libraries. The larger libraries are located at shopping centres and are open every day of the week. 

"Smaller libraries are spread out to suburbs and most of them also operate as self-service libraries. In that way we have been able to double our opening times during the last years."

Shortlisted: Parque Villa-Lobos Library, Sao Paulo, Brazil

A great success story for a library built on the site of a former garbage dump. The Parque Villa-Lobos Library (BVL) is a benchmark in the revitalisation of public spaces, restoring the civic pride of the people living nearby, and integration between a cultural asset and a city park.

The hallmark of the library is the variety of services and programs it provides local people, giving them opportunities to connect with each other through reading and knowledge. It provides a diversified collection of books, media, toys, traditional and video games. It presents a cultural program of more than 900 events a year and focuses on improving the lives of thousands of people.

The activities and services are organised not only to provide access to literature, culture and knowledge but also to encourage debate and creative activities. Among the outstanding initiatives are teaching older people to use a smartphone and digital appliances; providing space for musical groups from the outlying areas; helping parents and those looking after children read with their small children; making yoga exercises available; free foreign language classes; producing entertaining workshops on cooking and literature for children and adults; reading clubs; workshops for the production of texts, books and videos; cinema and dozens of other attractions. The library also runs a co-working program with startups creating content or social and environmental entrepreneurial initiatives.

Shortlisted: Lubuto Library Partners, Zambia

undefinedMumuni Library
Off to the library in Mumuni

Lubuto Library Partners provides and advocates for innovative public library services including comprehensive collections of excellent local and international children’s books, holistic, imaginative programming, and outreach and referrals for the most vulnerable children in Zambia. These include children who are out-of-school, street children, children with disabilities, adolescent mothers, and youth affected by HIV/AIDS, the majority of whom experience deep stigma and social exclusion.

Lubuto Libraries are safe havens to children for whom all other doors in society are closed, providing inclusive environments in which youth connect to formal and informal education, find outlets for self-expression, receive psychosocial support, and develop an awareness of their rights. LLP currently operates a system of 4 public
libraries in Zambia.

Lubuto’s full range of educational, artistic, and social service activities illustrate the valuable role that libraries can play in national development, particularly in countries like Zambia where over half of the population are youth and many find themselves outside the reach of mainstream social and educational services.

Find out more about the library services, including 'The Voices of Lubuto' - what the children think about their libraries.