Kalevala collection

150 different versions of Kalevala

On Independence Day in 1997, mayor Harri Viitanen was studying his family’s Juhlakalevala and had an idea…

Establishing a Kalevala collection

The Kalevala collection at Ylivieska City Library was established on February 27, 1998 at the proposal of the current mayor Harri Viitanen. The initial idea of the collection was to collect, as accurately as possible, all the available, different-language Kalevala publications, their adaptations, abstracts and illustrated versions as well as research related to Kalevala.

Harri Viitanen says that the idea of a Kalevala collection was formed on the Finnish Independence Day in 1997 when he was studying the Juhlakalevala edition which had run in the family as heritage. Koru-Kalevala, published by WSOY in 1922 and illustrated by Akseli Gallen-Kallela, is almost as old as Finland’s independence. It is a magnificent book and the first book to be donated to the collection.

At the establishment event, the library received about half a dozen donations. Over the years, until 2022, a total of 185 publications have been collected. Where possible, the City Library acquires missing publications by buying them from second-hand book shops and private individuals. The library is grateful for any donations. Donators are issued a diploma, which is decorated with Kalevala’s 1999 anniversary slogan, designed by Mika Launis, ”Creation of the World” (Diploma, updated 5/2022, pdf).

Such a large collection of Kalevala publications have not presumably been previously collected in any public libraries. The most complete Kalevala collection can be found in the University of Helsinki’s library, which operates as a national library, and the Finnish Literature Society’s library.

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