Borrow, Renew, Request

The Library offers materials for circulation and for on-site reference. A Helka library card is required to check out materials.

Most of the materials published in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries are available for checkout.

The following materials may only be used in the reading room:

  • material housed in the reference collection
  • the most recent issues of journals
  • publications that form part of the special collections
  • books published before 1900.

The library card

You need a Helka card to borrow printed materials. The Helka library card is valid for Helsinki University Library and five special libraries: Finnish Heritage Agency Library, Institute of the Languages of Finland, Library of the Labour Movement, Baltia-kirjasto and SKS Library. You can get the library card free of charge at a customer service desk at any Helka library. If you lose your card you will have to pay a fee in order to obtain a new one. 

To get a card, you must present a valid identity card. You may obtain the card if

  • you are over 15 years old
  • you live in Finland and have a Finnish identity number.

If you are a foreigner living in Finland, you may apply for a personal identity number at the registry office. If you are an exchange student or a visiting researcher at the University of Helsinki, you can be granted a card regardless of the aforementioned terms.

The Helka card is only valid for the person to whom it was issued: the holder is responsible for all the material borrowed and agrees to comply with the rules for the use of the libraries.

Report to the library if

  • you lose your card
  • your contact information changes (you can also update your account with your new information in the Helka database)
  • your name or personal identity number changes.

Loan period and loan renewals

For SKS library loans, the lending period is 28 days.

Loans can be renewed using the online Helka database or by contacting the library. Renewal will not succeed if

  • the item has been reserved by another patron
  • you have been banned from borrowing
  • you have renewed the loan 50 times.


We will give you a reminder

  • of the impending due date by e-mail, if you have included your email address in your account information
  • of overdue loans by e-mail or letter.

Make a note of the due date of your loans. You can check due dates by logging into your account in the Helka database. Overdue fines must be paid even if you did not receive a reminder of due dates due to technical or other reasons.

Material borrowed from the SKS Library can only be returned to the SKS Library. When the library is closed, you can return your loans to the drop box on the library’s Mariankatu Street door. Materials returned after-hours to the drop box will be checked in the following business day.

Loans from other libraries cannot be returned to the SKS Library.


Requests for material that is currently checked out may be placed

  • by using the Helka online database or
  • by contacting the Library.

We will notify you by e-mail when the material is available for pick-up.

Requests for material are placed free of charge; however, there is a penalty fee (see price list) if requested items are not picked up or if the request is not cancelled by the last pick-up day.

Ordering material from the closed stacks

Using the online Helka database, you can see if the item you would like is in the open shelf collection or in the closed stacks. You can obtain material from the closed stacks by making a call slip request. You can do this

We will notify you by e-mail when the material is available for pick-up.