Right of use and library card
Who may use Helsinki University Library?
Everyone has the right to use Helsinki University Library. Persons over the age of 15 who live in Finland and have a Finnish identity document (passport, identity card, driving licence) have the right to borrow material, and those who have a user ID for the University of Helsinki information systems have a remote use right for electronic materials.
Who can get a library card?
A card can be given to persons over the age of 15 who live in Finland and have a Finnish KELA-card as well as an official identification document (for customers from outside the Schengen area a passport is required). A post-office box, poste restante or address abroad are not accepted as an address. Exchange students or visiting scholars may get a library card even though they do not meet all of the above-mentioned requirements.
How do I get a library card?
Take a picture ID with you and come to the library's customer service and you can get a HELKA card in a couple of minutes. At the same time, you can get guidance in using the library's collections and making requests in Helka.
Apply for a Helka-card
Alternatively: If you have an old UniCard/Lyyra card with a barcode starting 210 (a student card issued by the Student Union of the University of Helsinki or a University of Helsinki staff card) it can be activated as a library card. The new student card from Frank cannot be activated as a library card.
How much does a library card cost?
The first Helka card is free of charge, but for a lost card, there is a replacement fee of 5 euros.
Can I get a library card even though I do not study at the University of Helsinki?
Yes if you have turned 15, live in Finland, and have a Finnish personal identity document (passport, identity card, driving licence).
Can a Helsinki City Library / Aalto University Library card be used in Helsinki University Library?
No. Only a Helka card or a University of Helsinki UniCard/Lyyra card can be used in Helsinki University Library.
My Helka card was lost/was stolen. What do I do?
Call the service number of Helsinki University Library (02 941 23920, during library service desk hours) or send an email to the address email@example.com, and we will block your library card. You can also report your card lost in the nearest Helsinki University campus library. If you find your card you must go to the library and show your ID and the library card, and the card will be reactivated. If you do not find the card, a new one costs 5 Euros. If you have reported your card stolen to the police, you get a new card free of charge. You must present the police report when you come to collect your new card.
I found my lost Helka card. How do I get it reactivated?
Go to the nearest Helka library and present your Helka card and ID in the customer service, and we will unblock your card.
I forgot my PIN code. What should I do?
Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and include your library card number. We will send you a text message with a new code to the phone number already associated with your account. If you have not provided a phone number to the library, you need to call the library service number or visit the library desk showing an ID document.
Do I have to notify the library, too, about a change of address even though I already reported it to Oodi/the university?
Yes. You must always report a change of address also to one of the Helka libraries even if you had informed the university about it. You can report your change of address through an electronic form on the Helka customer information page, in the customer service of the nearest Helsinki University campus library or by telephone (02 941 23920, during library service desk hours).
Circulation and loan periods
Are all materials available for home loans?
Most materials are available for home loans. Exceptions are reference collections, journals and books published before 1900. The rules for circulation vary in different libraries.
Materials that are not available for home loans can be read in the library.
How long are the loan periods?
Loan periods are different in different libraries and collections. Check the loan period in the Helka database or on the campus library web site.
The loan period for textbooks is 14 days. The loan period for short term loans is 2 days.
Can you see the loan period for a book in Helka?
Yes. The loan period in days can be seen after the name of the library on the Holdings screen. Note that the same book may have several different loan periods within the same library depending on what collection it belongs to.
When can short term loans be checked out and when do they have to be returned?
Short term loans can be checked out anytime, and it must be returned on the due date before the library closes. Remember that there are exceptional opening hours for example on holiday eves.
How many books can I check out at a time?
There are no limits.
Are loan periods longer during the summer?
Only libraries that are closed have longer loan periods during the summer.
May loans be returned in a different library than from where they were checked out?
Yes. Helsinki University Library books may be returned to any site regardless of where they were borrowed from. The Helsinki University Library sites are the Main Library in Kaisa House, Kumpula Campus Library, Meilahti Campus Library and Viikki Campus Library.
May I return a book by post?
You may return a book at your own risk also by post to any Helsinki University Library site. The borrower is responsible for the book until it has been returned to the library.
Do you have a return box or may I return books to e.g. the caretaker?
At the Main Library there is a night check-in unit to the left of the main entrance (Fabianinkatu 30). The books will be registered as returned on the following opening day. Every evening there is a service break for about half an hour starting at 10 p.m. - during this break it is not possible to return books.
At the Kumpula Campus the overnight return box is located on the right side of Physicum's main entrance (Gustaf Hällströmin katu 2a), next to the gray side door. The books will be registered as returned on the following opening day.
Next to the main doors of the Viikki Campus Library (Info Centre Korona), there is a joint return box for the Campus Library and the Helsinki City Library in which you may return materials at any time of the day. The books will be registered as returned on the following opening day.
There is a due date in the availability information of a book. Can I count on getting the book then?
It is recommended that you make a request for the book. Otherwise the current borrower may renew the loan. It is possible that the loan is returned before the due date but it may be returned after it as well. We inform you of the arrival of requested books by email or letter if you have not given us an email address.
When can I make a request for a book?
You can request a book that is out on loan. Note that you may NOT request a book that you currently have on loan. Short term loans may not be reserved.
How do I make a request?
You can make request yourself online. The library customer service will help you with making a request if needed. When making a request, you need the number of your Helka card (always have your card with you when in the library) and PIN-number. After the request has become available, you can find it under your name in the reservations area. Please notify the library if you wish to pick up your reservations at the service desk - in that case, pick-up will only be possible during service desk hours.
How do I make a storage retrieval request?
You can make a storage retrieval request online for collections in the closed stacks of the National Library and Kaisa House, and the book you requested will be collected for you from the stacks.
How much does the request cost and when is the fee paid?
Requesting a textbook costs 1 Euro, and the fee is added to your account when the item becomes available. There is no charge for making requests on other books. There is a 2 Euro fine for not picking up or cancelling your request by the last pick-up day.
Can I make a request online/through the service number/by email/by fax?
You can make a request yourself online in the Helka database. You can also make a request through the library service number. Requests cannot be made by email, post or fax.
Can I request a book that is available on the shelf by phone?
No you cannot. Requests cannot be made on books that are available on the shelf.
According to Helka, a book I need urgently is "In process". How can I get it?
If you come in to the library and make a request at the service desk we will process the book as fast as possible. You must pay the request fee of 1 Euro when you pick up the book if it's a textbook.
Helka tells me that a book has been ordered. What does that mean and can I make a request for the book?
The library has ordered the book, but it hasn't arrived yet. Because it's difficult to assess when the book will be available, and because sometimes we are unable to get the books that we've ordered, it is not possible to make requests for ordered items. You can make a request when the book has arrived and its status is shown as "In process".
I received a pick-up notice for a book that I will not be able to pick up in time. Can I extend the time limit?
If you contact the library on the last pick-up date at the latest, the book can be already borrowed on your library card and you can pick it up later.
Can my husband/wife/parent/friend etc. pick up a book I requested on my behalf?
Yes if you give them your Helka card. Do remember, however, that you are responsible for all material borrowed with your card.
Is there a faster way of finding out about the availability of a requested book than waiting for the pick-up notice?
Yes. You can take a real-time look at your requests by checking your request status in the Helka customer information.
Can I get notification of an item available for pick-up without waiting for the pick-up notice?
Yes. You can check the current situation online through Helka or by calling the library service phone.
I got a pick-up notice for a book that I no longer need. What do I do?
The request should be cancelled by calling the library's service line, by email or in the library. If the requested book is a textbook, you still have to pay the request fee as the book had already been returned to the library before the cancellation. It is still worth it to cancel the request as this way you avoid the two Euro fine that is collected if you do not pick up your request.
Can I pick up my request at some other library than the one the book belongs to?
No. Requests must be picked up in the library the books belong to.
Can I renew my loans?
Yes if there are no requests for the loans, you are not blocked, and the renewal limit (12 times for textbooks, 50 times for other material) has not been reached. A short-term loan cannot be renewed.
How many times can I renew a loan?
Short-term loans cannot be renewed. A textbook loan can be renewed 12 times and loans of other materials 50 times. After that the borrowed books must be returned. The books may be borrowed again in the library if there are no requests for them.
Can I renew a loan before the due date?
Can I renew loans from other Helka libraries in the library?
Yes. All loans may also be renewed in the Helka database.
Exception: If you have used your Helka card in e.g. the Aalto University Library you have to renew loans from there separately.
Why can I not renew a short-term loan?
A short-term loan is meant to be a rapidly circulating item and, as for textbooks, an 'emergency aid' if all other textbooks are in circulation. That is why one customer may not keep the book without giving others the chance to borrow it, too (short-term loans cannot be requested).
Why can I not request a short-term loan?
If short-term loans could be requested they would sit on the shelf waiting for being picked up for much of the time instead of being used by customers all the time.
Can I renew loans by phone?
Yes. You can find the service numbers among contact information.
Can I renew books online?
Yes. Go to Helka and log in by entering your library card number, PIN code and your last name in the boxes. All Helka library web sites have links to Helka.
There is a service break in Helka every night between 10:00 and 10:30 PM. The library cannot guarantee that loans can be successfully renewed at any time; to avoid fines, please renew well before the due date.
Can I renew loans by e-mail/letter/fax?
No. Loans can be renewed in the library, by phone or online.
I tried renewing online, but Helka is rejecting my library card number / my last name. What should I do?
If you are using a UniCard/Lyyra card, the number you should use is the one on the back of the card that starts "21". If this does not help, contact the library and we'll sort it out.
I can see my loans online but see no way of renewing them. What's wrong?
Most likely you are blocked. You may be blocked due to unpaid fines or inadequate customer information. Please contact the library.
I tried renewing online but was unable to, although I know I have no overdue loans or unpaid fines. I'm not trying to renew a short term loan. What's wrong?
Your customer information needs to be updated regularly. If yours hasn't been updated, you may be blocked until the information's been checked. You may also have reached the renewal limit for a book. Contact the library immediately and we'll sort it out.
I've reached the renewal limit and can no longer renew my loan online. What should I do?
If you are unable to return the books, call the library and the loans will be renewed one final time. After that they must be returned, but you can borrow them again if there are no requests.
If I return a loan after the due date will there be a fine?
Yes. Overdue fines are accrued for a maximum of 14 days starting from the day after the due date. However, you can avoid the fines by returning the book to the library or by renewing the loan no later than on the due date.
What are the overdue fines?
The overdue fines for the different collections are as follows:
- Textbooks, 14 day and 7 day loans: €0.70/day/book, maximum €9.80/book
- Short-term loans: €2/day/book, maximum €28/book
- Other collections: €0.30/day/book, maximum €4.20/book
The overdue fines are accrued for 14 days starting from the day after the due date, after which the borrower is blocked. The collection of material that is a month overdue is handed over to a collection agency. The minimum compensation for a book is €80.00/book. In addition, the customer must pay the accrued overdue fines and the collection agency fees.
When does the library send overdue notices?
The first overdue notice is sent after the due date and the second 14 days after the due date. If a loan is one month overdue, the matter continues to be administrated by a collection agency.
When will a customer be blocked?
When loans are more than 14 days overdue or there are more than 15 euros in unpaid fines.
How can I regain my borrowing privileges?
By returning overdue loans and paying all fines. You have to pay all fines at a time; it is not possible to pay part of your fines.
When will overdue loans be handed over to a Collection Agency?
When they are one month overdue. In that case the customer has to pay compensation for the lost material (minimum 80 euros per item), the fines incurred and the collection fees. The compensations fee needn't be paid if the material is returned. Overdue fines and the collection fees still have to be paid. The Library sends a reminder (Second Overdue Notice) and warns about the collection before the matter continues to be administrated by a collection agency.
Are unreturned loans automatically transferred to a Collection Agency?
Not if the customer has contacted the library and come to an agreement about compensation.
How can I pay my fees?
You can pay online with the following cards: Visa, Visa Electron, MasterCard. Log onto your patron information in Helka, under "Fees" click "Online payment" and follow the instructions.
In the library you can pay with the following cards: bank card; Visa Electron, Visa or MasterCard. Cash is accepted only in Kaisa House You cannot pay with UniCard/Lyyra, nor can fines be paid to a bank. No partial payments are possible.
Can I pay a part of the fines so that I would be unblocked?
Payments cannot be made in parts; all fines must be paid at once.
I have lost or damaged a book I borrowed. Do I have to pay for it?
Yes. If you have lost or damaged a book that you borrowed, please contact the Library customer service. As per the Library price list. The fine for a lost book is at least 80 euros.
I am a student at the Open University of the University of Helsinki. Can I participate in training organised by the Library?
Yes, you can attend training courses open to all customers free of charge. A list of courses can be found in the Library’s event calendar.
I am a student on the Viikki Campus. Can I attend courses on other campuses?
Yes, you can attend Library courses open to all customers on all campuses.
I teach an advanced studies seminar and I would like to include a couple of hours of Library training in the course. Is the training subject to a fee?
No. You can order training for your course from the Library. The training is free of charge to University staff and students. The contents and teaching methods must be agreed upon beforehand. Sometimes the Library already has independent study materials or a training course that can be incorporated into your course.
I have been looking for sources for my Bachelor’s thesis using the article search function in the Helka database. Is that enough? Should I use some other information resources as well?
The answer to your question depends on the topic of your thesis. By itself, the article search function is usually insufficient. Please see the Databases page or browse ResearchGuides for a list of available databases in your field and conduct a search through them. You can also try Google Scholar.
Why should I use the Library databases when I have already searched for articles through Google Scholar?
Google Scholar does not use all the same databases as the Library does. Google Scholar may be an adequate search tool for some topics but not for others.
Who is entitled to use the e-resources of the Helsinki University Library?
The e-resources of the Library are acquired primarily for the students and staff of the University of Helsinki. For full access you need a user account for the University information system. With the user account you can also access the e-resources via remote connection.
If you are an external customer, you can access the e-resources at the Library premises either by using the computers reserved for visitors or on your own laptop via a wireless HUPNet connection. The customer service desk can provide you with a temporary HUPNet account.
I study at the Open University. How can I use the Library’s e-resources?
All students of the Open University are given user accounts for the University network. For more information, visit the Open University webpage.
I am a docent at the University of Helsinki. How can I use the University’s e-journals and databases?
To access the e-resources you need a user account for the University information systems. Docents can apply for an account from the IT contact person of their department/discipline.
I am a visiting lecturer at the University of Helsinki. How can I use the University’s e-journals and databases?
You can access the e-resources at the Library premises either by using the computers reserved for visitors or on your own laptop via a wireless HUPNet connection. The customer service desk can provide you with a temporary HUPNet account.
For remote access to the e-resources you need a user account for the University information systems. Visiting lecturers can apply for a temporary account from the IT contact person of their department/discipline.
I don’t study or work at the University of Helsinki, but I do have a Helka library card. Can I use the e-resources of the Library?
You can access the e-resources at the premises of the Library either by using the computers reserved for visitors, or on your own laptop via a wireless HUPNet connection. The customer service desk can provide you with a temporary HUPNet account. Remote use of the e-resources is possible only with user account for the University information systems.
Is it possible to purchase the rights to use the University’s e-materials?
User rights cannot be bought. Should you not have a user account for the University of Helsinki network, you still can use the e-resources locally on the premises of the Helsinki University Library.
How can I access the e-materials from home?
If you have a user account for the University information systems, you can access the Library’s e-resources on any computer via remote connection. There are different alternatives for remote use.
The remote connection can be activated by following the SFX-links. When you choose an e-resource from SFX-links you will be redirected to a login form. Giving your user account details will activate the remote connection. The same applies to the SFX links of articles you may find, e.g. via Google Scholar. You will be able to activate remote access to the article if the Library has a license for the material.
An alternative way is to access the University network via a VPN connection. The University of Helsinki IT Services is in charge of VPN connections. For more information, see the IT Services webpage on home and remote connections.
Ebooks and e-reading sofware
How do I download an ebook to a tablet/laptop/smartphone? I want to read the book offline.
Download availability and methods depend on the ebook service or platform used. Some of our ebooks cannot or may not be downloaded on users' personal devices and are only available online.
Further information about downloading ebooks on different devices can be found in the ebook guide.
I downloaded an ebook from the Library on my tablet/iPad/laptop, but I cannot open the file. What is the problem?
You need to install reader software to access downloaded ebooks. The most common reader software are BlueFire Reader (tablets) and Adobe Digital Editions (PC, Mac). The software requirements vary depending on the ebook service or platform used.
Further instructions can be found in the Library's ebook guide.
Can I read ebooks at home?
You can read all ebooks at home if you have access rights to the University network. Further information about remote access can be found in our ebook guide.
If I download a book on a Library computer, can I also open it at home/on my own device? Will I be able to access the book at home?
If you have an Adobe ID, you can move the downloaded file from the Library computer to, for example, a USB stick and access it at home using your Adobe ID. You can create an Adobe ID at www.adobe.com.
How long is the loan period for ebooks? Why do the loan periods vary between services/books/publishers?
Certain ebook services, such as Ellibs, Dawsonera and EbookCentral, will permit you to download books on your personal device for a certain period of time (Ellibs for one or seven days, Dawsonera for one to three days and EbookCentral for one to two weeks). Whether these periods are negotiable depends on the service or publisher. Further information on download periods can be found in our ebook guide.
How can all digital copies be on loan? How can you run out of ebooks?
Most of our ebooks are always available for use online. The Library owns a certain number of Ellibs course book licences, which can all be in use at the same time. In addition, some ebooks have restrictions on the number of simultaneous users (Ebsco, EbookCentral, Dawsonera), which is why they can be temporarily unavailable.
How do I return an ebook? Does it return itself?
Ebooks that can be borrowed or downloaded on your own device for a fixed period of time always return themselves. Borrowable ebooks (Ellibs, EbookCentral and Ebsco books) can be returned before the end of the loan period if you do not need them anymore. In fact, it is recommended that you do so as a courtesy to other users. Further information can be found in our ebook guide .
Can I copy parts of the ebook file to my own computer? Can I use copy/paste?
Several ebook services allow you to save parts of a book. Some publishers have also enabled the copy/paste function. For further, publisher-specific instructions, please consult our ebook guide.
Can I print parts of an ebook?
Several ebook services allow you to print parts of a book. For further, publisher-specific instructions, please consult our ebook guide.
Can I email the ebook to a friend?
You are usually allowed to email chapters or excerpts of an ebook to fellow students and colleagues, but not an entire book.
I do not have a user ID for the University network. I have found an interesting ebook in the Library. How can I read it?
Non-university users can access our ebooks and other electronic resources on the Library premises. As a visitor, you can request a temporary user ID or HUPnet ID from the service desk. The user ID allows you to access ebooks on your own device or the Library computers that require a visitor ID.
How do I download the appropriate ebook reader software onto my computer/tablet?
Ebooks are usually accessed with either Adobe Digital Editions or Adobe Reader software (PC). You can download the software from www.adobe.com. University computers already have these applications installed. The most frequently used reader software for mobile devices is Bluefire Reader, which can be downloaded from the device manufacturers’ distribution platforms (Google Play, App Store). Further information can be found in our ebook guide.
Facilities and equipment
I forgot an important piece of paper/mittens that my mum knitted for me in the reading room. What should I do?
Contact the customer service. The library keeps lost articles for three months.
How can I take copies in the library?
All libraries have Unigrafia provided photocopiers that work with printing ID cards. All libraries have also couple of copiers that work with copy cards. You can purchase copy cards from the library. The prices of copy cards are the same for all customer groups.
Can I scan documents in the library?
Yes, with the photocopiers provided by Unigrafia it is also possible to scan and send the created PDF document to an email address of your choice. Scanning is free of charge.
Are the libraries equal access?
All Helsinki University Library sites are equal access. See further details on the Equal Access page.
I live far away. How can I borrow a book?
If you cannot come to us, go to your local library to make an interlibrary loan request. There is a fee for the service determined by the local library.
Why can I not find a book on the shelf even though it is listed in Helka as being available?
There are many possibilities. First check the location of the book on a library terminal and make sure that you have the right shelf and are looking according to the correct main word. Most often a book is alphabetised according to the author but if if the book is edited or has more than three authors it is placed according to the title of the book. Some libraries have shelves for 'books returned today' where material is placed until there is time to put it in its own place. The material may also be in the shelf for new arrivals. If you still cannot find the book ask at the service desk: the book might have been just returned. Also, another customer in the library who has not yet borrowed the book might have it.
Why is Helka unavailable at times?
The library system is maintained at times and you cannot access it then. We try to schedule maintenance runs for times when they cause least inconvenience for customers, mornings, weekends and holidays, but it is not always possible. There are short breaks due to maintenance runs in HELKA every evening and night. There are also breaks in the university network sometimes, due to which the network connections have also been down in the library. You should renew your loans some time before the due date.
Where do I get a user ID for the RefWorks reference management program?
Everyone who has a university user ID can create a RefWorks user ID themselves. When creating the ID you must be in the university network. Go to https://refworks.proquest.com, click on Create account. Use @helsinki.fi email address.
What do I do if I cannot find the material I need in the library?
You should check if the material is found in some other library near you (Helmet - Helsinki Metropolitan Area Libraries, MELINDA - Union Catalog of Finnish Libraries). If you still cannot find it (or it is only found far away) you can make a request for an interlibrary loan of the book (there is a fee for the service, check the interlibrary loan service site of your own campus) or propose to the library that the material is acquired.