Reconstruction of the Estonian National Library | National Library of Estonia

Reconstruction of the Estonian National Library

At the end of April 2021, the government supported the financing of the reconstruction of the national library building in the state budget strategy, starting from the beginning of next year. The reconstruction project has been completed and is currently undergoing expert assessment. The designer of the building is Sirkel & Mall and the interior design solution is provided by VLS Interior Architecture. It is still possible to visit the Tõnismägi National Library building until the end of this year – we welcome you!

What happens next?

At the beginning of June, Riigi Kinnisvara AS (RKAS) announced a construction tender. At the end of the summer, the results of the construction tender will be announced.

At the beginning of November, the Tõnismägi building will be closed to visitors and the moving will begin. The foyer or the third floor of the library will remain open: exhibitions, conference and event services.

Replacement premises

During the reconstruction, the National Library will move to the building at Narva mnt 11 (the building of Bigbank). We will continue to offer our services on the replacement premises. During the reconstruction period, the National Library will also find a small ‘representation area’ in the Solaris Shopping Centre, and there will be some book dispensers in the city centre where books can be ordered and returned.

How moving affects services

From the beginning of November to January, the National Library can offer services to a much lesser extent, as during that time we are moving our collections. Lending is certainly limited and it is largely impossible to use the works on site.

Our primary goal is to move the property, which would allow the services to be opened in the replacement premises as soon as possible. We plan to open services in the replacement area as early as the beginning of the new year – hopefully during the first half of January. The relocation of our collections will certainly continue. In September, we will also open a so-called pop-up library in the Solaris Shopping Centre, which will help alleviate interruptions in our services.

How services will change on the replacement premises

In the new premises, we will offer most of the same services that we do today. We will certainly offer the lending and use of works on site, the use of computers, personal counselling and answering inquiries. In educational activities, we will be putting more emphasis on visiting schools on site. Our digital services are becoming more important – we want to open a state e-lending and a nationwide lending service next year. We continue to offer everyone access to hundreds of different scientific, information and cultural databases and the digital archive DIGAR. As a state and parliamentary library, we also provide services to state agencies and the Riigikogu, etc.

It is important to take into account that access to our collections will decrease during the reconstruction, because everything except the open collections will be packed in other repositories during that time.

About the new building

The new building is scheduled for completion in 2025, and we will be able to provide on-site services in 2026.

There will be significant changes in the new building. One can ask that, if the form, i.e. the house itself, is under heritage protection and the content is inherently conservative, i.e. aimed at preservation, then what changes can we talk about here? However, there are quite a few changes.

First, the units of the National Archives currently scattered all across Tallinn will now establish themselves in the new building along with their collections and services. This makes all kinds of research and information use much more convenient. It is certain that both current and brand-new educational activities will become even more important in these improved conditions. The role of the library as an educational centre is significantly increasing, both in terms of the training offered, conducting independent research and, more broadly, lifelong learning opportunities.

Secondly, the existing units (humanitarian, social and music libraries) will be renewed so that there will be more opportunities on these floors to organise various events, hold various workshops and also spend time in an equally pleasant environment. Silence remains, but not everywhere; there will be more opportunities to communicate.

The growth of the entire library – not so much as a cultural centre in the obsolete sense of the word, but as a cultural environment in the most creative sense of the word – is certainly one of the primary goals. This could be noticed as soon as you enter, because it is the spacious atrium of the building that turns into a surprising inner street and the heart of organising events, from where you can get to completely new types of cafes as well as a 24-hour self-service library. Life in the new building should not be interrupted for a single moment.

When the building of the National Library was opened in the last century, many were under the impression that it is a only place for the elected and that ordinary people are not welcome there. This has not been the case for years, but old prejudices are persistent. Therefore, we wish to spread the message that the renovated building will be open to everyone. Spending time in the library should be more exciting and natural than hanging out in a shopping centre. A warm, bright and interesting place in the cold season, pleasantly cool and ever interesting in the warm summer.

Exterior view visuals: Sirkel & Mall
Interior view visuals: VLS Interior Architecture