The regular and structured operations of the Diet of Finland began in 1863. To support its work, the Estates maintained several small archives and libraries (approx. 100 titles). The library and archive of the Diet established in 1872 were initially a modest undertaking and expanded very slowly. The library, which originally served the Estates and, following the 1906 Parliament Act, Members of Parliament only, became an open public library in 1913. This also marked the beginning of the Library’s growth into a major jurisprudential and social and political science library.
Administratively, the status of the Library has changed many times, being governed by the trustees of the Bank of Finland under the Estates, the Council of State and the Parliament at different stages of its history. Since 2001, the Library has come under the aegis of the Parliamentary Office as part of the Information and Communication Unit.
The advisory board of the Library became the Board of the Library of Parliament in 1922. The remit of the Board of the Library is to discuss key issues regarding the operations and development of the Library and to issue an annual report to Parliament on Library operations.
When the predecessor of the current library was first established, it employed one person, a treasurer, whose duties in addition to housekeeping included managing the library. In 1891, the first Librarian position was established and, at the same time, the duties of the treasurer and those of the librarian and archivist were segregated.
In the early days, the library expanded very gradually. There was modest funding and no more staff were hired. During 1912, the number of home loans was 1,129 and the Library employed two members of staff: a chief librarian and a library assistant. In 1922, when the Library celebrated its 50th anniversary, the chief librarian position was supported by three librarians and a porter. The library collection included some 40,000 titles.
In 1948, the collection had already expanded to 140,000 titles and employed 10 staff. The collections grew faster than the personnel. In 1956, the Library employed 15 staff as it still would ten years later in 1966. In 1979, the Library of Parliament employed 29 staff and the collection included some 411,000 titles.
In 1979, the number of home loans was 17,582, while in 1978 it had been 13,060. At the same time, the interlibrary service expanded. Growth was now rapid. In 1998, the number of home loans was 65,000 and the collection included some 613,600 titles. Thanks to the increasing demand for customer services and the continuously accrued collections, information and training services, the Library employed 58 staff in 1998.
At the end of the 1990s the Library was as big as it was going to be. The continuous evaluation of the collections and the ensuing removal of titles from the collection became part of the librarians’ work.
In 2008, nearly 10,000 monographs and 3,000 publication volumes were removed. The number of home loans took a downward turn, being only 32,930 in 2008 and that of renewals 75,190. There were 26,852 customers.
At the end of 2008, there were 52 staff. In 2013, the staff complement was reduced by five, leaving 46 permanent positions and 5 unfilled posts.