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Mikko Laakso

Mikko Taneli Laakso
Born October 9, 1963, Lohja.

Master of Arts, 1990 and Licentiate of Philosophy (General History) 2000, University of Helsinki
Diplôme européen d’etudes medievales 1994 (Diploma awarded by FIDEM, the European Universities network for medieval research)
Archivist Diploma (National Archives Service of Finland), 1993

Researcher, Spiritus Historiae Ltd 1990- (fulltime from 2000)
Archivist, School of Art and Design, 1992-1995
Researcher, Department of Sociology (Demographics research unit), University of Helsinki, 1995-2000
Part-time researcher, Samfundet Folkhälsan, 2003-2011

Research interests: Finnish economic and social history, history of organisations and history of Finnish library services

Photo: Mika Federley
Written by Mikko Laakso and Riitta-Ilona Hurmerinta (ed.)
Translated by John Calton

Management problems in libraries

My most recent research report Kirjasto ekspansiivisessa suurkaupungissa: Suomen suurten yleisten kirjastojen johtamisen ongelma 1945−2010, on the library provision in an expanding metropolis, in particular the problems in the management of large public libraries in Finland in the years 1945-2010, deals with the history of the library as an institution in Finland. The goal of my doctoral dissertation is to clarify how the management of big public libraries in Finland has been organised in the post-war decades and how the management culture has changed over the years.

General societal change, urbanisation, the exponential development of library technology, the decline of strict hierarchies in working life and on the other hand the growing demands made by library users have put more pressure on the library administration. Over the decades, librarians working at large libraries have almost entirely ceased to do actual library work and have had to focus on the management issues.

In research, a big public library is a term used for a library which is located in an area with 100,000 or more inhabitants and in which the number of loans have passed the minimum of two million a year from the 1980s on. The project is focused particularly on how well the management staff and library boards, faced with their challenging tasks, have fared in the city libraries of Helsinki, Tampere, Turku and Kuopio. The choice of these particular public libraries for research subjects is based primarily on their size and age – the Helsinki City Library was founded in 1860, the Tampere City Library in 1861, the Turku City Library in 1863 and the Kuopio City Library in 1872. In addition, the number of books taken out, especially at the Helsinki and Tampere city libraries, is the highest in the country.


  • The doctoral dissertation report Kirjasto ekspansiivisessa suurkaupungissa: Suomen suurten yleisten kirjastojen johtamisen ongelma 1945−2010, supervised by Ilkka Mäkinen, Docent of Library History at the University of Tampere


Photo: Sami Mannerheimo.​
Photo: Sami Mannerheimo.​


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