National Library reconstruction set to begin in 2022

State real estate company Riigi Kinnisvara AS is planning to announce a procurement for reconstruction works at Tallinn's National Library (Rahvusraamatukogu) in June with development set to begin in March of 2022.

The National Library building is the newest building under heritage protection in Estonia, having been completed in 1993. The controversially designed brutalist building has since depreciated with reconstruction works designed by architecture bureau Sirkel & Mall set to begin this year. The €65 million investment is among the highest in Estonian culture and infrastructure over the previous decades.

"In rainy times, the roof leaks almost daily. The entire piping and electrical system need replacing. The gas extinguishing system is depreciated and has become potentially dangerous. The building is also very expensive to maintain. Renovation costs are growing year by year. Lately, we have also had issues with cooling in storage that should ensure that valuable works that need special conditions could be preserved," said the library's spokesperson Argo Kerb.

The library is also worried about the fact that only 250 people are working in a building meant for 650, which would allow for other facilities to join the National Library building. The current layout however does not allow for that to happen. After the reconstruction works this year, the National Archive will be able to move in.

The expectations among library staff are high. All of the library's terraces are planned to be put to use along with an outdoor library set to be placed on the sixth floor. Library director Janne Andresoo said the outdoor library will have a reading area with plants, lighting and a sitting area as well. The sixth floor is currently unused in general and the reconstructions would see a conference hall for performances and events built.

One of the greatest challenges in the designing phase according to Priit Püssi, the project's development head, was creating large enough spaces for the National Archive's cinema hall and film storage room, which additionally needs to be held at -5 C temperatures. Those rooms are projected to be on the main floor, where the lobby is.

The library storage will be archived more closely and sliding shelves will be used, allowing for better use of space, Püssi added. He said however that the exterior look of the building will not change much. The facade will be cleaned, the decomposed spots will be renewed and lighting will be added.

The hope is that the reconstruction works will make the building more flexible to use and will hopefully create a positive environment to spend time in. The library will also begin working around the clock after works are finished.

As of the current project, the library will begin to move out for the time of reconstruction at the start of 2022. If all goes well, the new building will be opened for visitors in 2025. Argo Kerb did not have an answer for where the library will move during the reconstruction work.

The library will continue working during the reconstruction period, but parts of the collection will be without access as part of it will be stored in specially conditioned storerooms.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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