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 an official ID card. You may obtain the card if you are over 15 years old and have a valid street address in Finland. 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 or your contact information changes. You can also update your account with your new information in the Helka database.  If you are a student or an employee of the University of Helsinki, please follow the instructions of the Helsinki University Library on how to get a library card and update your customer details.

Through the Helka customer register, you will receive email messages concerning due date reminders, reservation notifications and overdue notices. Paper mail is not sent via Helka.

Logging in to Helka

Once you have a library card, you can start using the self-service functions by logging in to your Helka account. You can make reservations and order material from the closed stacks. In addition, you can see the due dates of your loans, renew loans and pay any overdue fines. You can also set a PIN code, which you will need when using the lending machines. The contact details of the students and employees of the University of Helsinki are automatically updated in Helka from the background systems of the University. Other customers can update their own contact information after logging in to Helka.

You can log in to the Helka service by clicking the “Sign in” link in the upper right corner of Helka. There are two ways to sign in:

  • Students and employees of the University of Helsinki: sign in using your university IDs
  • Other customers: sign in using the email address added to your customer details in Helka. You will receive a link to sign in by email.

If you have not added your email address to Helka or you have other issues when trying to sign in, please contact the customer service of the library.

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.

Borrowing books and renewing your loans

You can borrow material using the self-service lending machine on the first or ground floors. In addition to your Helka library card, you will need a PIN code, which you will receive when you get the Helka card. You can also borrow material at the service desk on the first floor.

The loan period for SKS material is 28 days.

You can renew your loans by logging in to Helka. In addition to the due date, you can see the maximum allowed renewal period (i.e. the day until which the loan can be renewed if there are no reservations) from the information about the loan. It is possible to renew all your loans from Helka libraries at the same time. Libraries charge overdue fines for loans that are returned or renewed after the due date.  

Returning loans

You can check the due dates of your loans by logging in to your Helka account. 

Material borrowed from the SKS library must be returned to the SKS library. There are self-service check-in machines on the first and ground floors. You can also return your loans to the service desk on the first floor.

When the library is closed, you can return your loans to the SKS book drop box on Mariankatu. We will check in the material in the Helka database on the next business day. 

It is not possible to return material borrowed from other libraries to the SKS library.

Overdue fines and blocks on borrowing

We charge overdue fines for loans that are returned late or renewed after the due date.

You will be blocked from borrowing if you do not return your loans within 14 days after the due date or if you have unpaid overdue fines or service fees that amount to more than EUR 15. The block on borrowing concerns all Helka libraries, and it will prevent you from renewing your loans or making reservations. The block will be removed when you pay the fines and return your loans, or pay for material that is not returned.

We will send three overdue notices for overdue loans to the address mentioned in your customer details. If you do not return your loans despite the overdue notices, we will send you an invoice for the unreturned material. Unpaid invoices will be transferred to a collection agency, which will also charge you collection costs.

Reservations and storage retrieval requests

You can make a reservation for material on loan or reserved for another customer by logging in to the Helka database or by contacting the customer service of the library. You can make a request also for materials in the library’s closed stacks. It is not possible to make reservations for material that is available on open collection shelves.

You will be notified via email when you can collect your requested material. You can also check your customer details in Helka to see when to collect your requested material.

You can collect your requested material from the pick-up shelf on the first floor. The material is arranged on the shelf according to the request IDs. Your request ID can be found on the notification sent to you by email. The request ID does not show in your customer details in Helka. You can borrow reserved material only with the Helka card used for the reservation.

We keep the material reserved for you for a week. Reserving items is free of charge, but a fee will be charged for any uncollected reservations.