Viikki Infocenter Renewed

The redesigned Viikki Campus Library celebrated its opening at Viikki Info Centre Korona in October 2021. The project became even more complicated with the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in winter 2020, forcing staff to work largely from home at a critical point of preparing for the renovation and designing the new facility.
Redesigning facilities remotely? No problem!

There were many twists and turns on the way, as is often the case in redesign projects. All of the University of Helsinki library facilities were redesigned between 2014 and 2021, with Viikki Campus Library’s turn coming last.

Collaboration, engagement and collection pruning

Helsinki University Library launched the Viikki Campus Library redesign project as early as 2018 when the project plan was approved by the library’s management group in June. The idea was to create a diverse and flexible learning environment at Viikki Campus Library in smaller facilities than before, but without reducing the number of study spaces and groupwork facilities. Another aim was to clarify the placement of library collections.

From the outset, the planning took into account partnerships and collaboration with other parties housed in the Info Centre, particularly the Helsinki City Library and the University’s facilities services. The library’s facility redesign project was part of a larger University of Helsinki renovation and remodelling project, during which the Info Centre will be comprehensively transformed. The more extensive University project began in spring 2019 and will continue at the Info Centre until summer 2022. 

The library launched its own project by exploring various learning environment solutions, pruning collections and engaging both staff and facility users in planning. In autumn 2018, students at Viikki Campus were asked to give feedback on the library facilities on flip charts and the Flinga online platform.

Pandemic throws a spanner in the works

The refurbishment of the Info Centre was scheduled to begin in summer 2020. However, the coronavirus pandemic forced most library staff to work from home just before the facilities were supposed to be emptied ahead of the renovation. Emptying premises and moving collections to temporary facilities cannot be done remotely, so staff had to quickly develop methods and practices allowing on-site work, while ensuring health and safety. Those working on-site wore protective face masks and maintained safe social distancing.

During the renovation of the Info Centre, customers had access to a joint pop-up library established by the Helsinki City Library and the Viikki Campus Library. It was opened in August 2020 on the fourth floor of the Info Centre after the necessary furniture alterations had been made, collections and equipment had been transferred, and temporary signs had been put up.

We were open to the public for a short while until our customer facilities had to be closed when the pandemic showed signs of worsening in Finland, and consequently we were only able to operate a book collection service. In these exceptional circumstances, however, we had the opportunity to become better acquainted with the staff of the Helsinki City Library by working side by side with them and to familiarise ourselves with our future collaboration: in the redesigned work facilities, we would eventually share both a service desk and back office and break facilities with the city library staff.

The design of the learning environment as well as the planning of facility operations and furniture took place on a fully remote basis between summer 2020 and winter 2021. Some amendments and alterations were made when the facilities were taken into use in autumn 2021. At this point, we were finally able to return to the site and see whether the planned solutions worked in practice.

The pandemic also affected the availability of furniture and its delivery: we faced an anxious wait until the last minute to see whether we would have everything in place before the opening ceremony. The day before the opening was a long and busy one.

“Wow! It looks completely different!”

The opening ceremony on 1 October 2021 was a festive and joyful occasion. There were many reasons to feel happy: we were able to come together in person, the collections were well-organised, the customer service and self-service equipment was in place, and although not all of the furniture had arrived, there was a sufficient amount to meet the needs of the moment.

Despite the difficulties involved, the refurbishment of the Viikki library facilities had been completed as scheduled. It took a great deal of collaboration both on site and via remote connections. The light and airy result, both in the library facilities and the thoroughly refurbished Info Centre with its café and learning plaza, delights both customers and project participants. We are pleased to now have a spacious and diverse learning environment at Viikki Campus. We look forward to gaining more user experiences when teachers, students and the traditional hustle and bustle of university life return to campus. 
 

Kirjoittajat
Viikki Campus Library after the renovation
  • The campus library is spread over three floors. The number of study spaces available for customers increased from 276 to 350. In addition to 249 traditional study spaces, the facilities accommodate groupwork spaces, computer workstations, armchairs and sofas.
  • The entrance floor is designed for collaborative work and drop-ins and provides spaces for attending online lectures. Also on this floor is a self-service area for borrowing and returning resources as well as collecting reserved items.
  • The entities operating in the building have a shared service area in connection with the entrance. Helsinki University Library has a service point and back-office facilities for processing returned items and handling logistics.
  • Course books can be found on the entrance floor, publication series, reference books and other books are located on the second floor, and journals and magazines are available in the basement. The collections have been pruned and RFID-tagged.
  • The open space on the second floor is intended for independent work and study. Electric desks are reserved for working, and members of the University community have access to computers, in addition to which an appropriate mix of standing and seating areas as well as armchairs and sofas are available.
  • University of Helsinki students can book the 16 groupwork rooms on the second floor and in the basement. Previously, Viikki Campus Library had eight groupwork spaces. The audiovisual equipment in the groupwork facilities has also been replaced.
  • The basement has both groupwork facilities and two spaces for quiet study.