Turku Book Café is a non-profit, volunteer and worker-run co-operative vegan café and DIY community space hosting a variety of cultural and societal events ranging from reading circles to band nights in the old centre of Turku. Always free entry, mostly all-ages as well.
Opening hours and location
The café is open on weekdays 12.00–18.00, and later at night when hosting various events, and occasionally on Saturdays and Sundays as well (see our calendar). In July and during the Christmas holidays we usually go on a break for a couple of weeks (again, see the calendar; during the pandemic we have skipped the summer break for two years now).
We are located at the Brinkkala courtyard, Old Great Square 3, 20500 Turku (see the map).
In November 1981, inspired by the political book café movement in Berlin, Copenhagen and a few cities in the neighbouring Sweden, a group of young left-wing and anarchist squatters and student radicals opened their own book café in Turku, Finland. Their desire was to import interesting pamphlets and critical academic literature to Finland, and to create an anti-capitalist grassroots meeting place and a scene for dialogue in Turku. Fed up with the party political climate of the 1970s student and other organisations, they wanted to break free from all factions, including the ones they had previously adhered to themselves.
The location of the café has changed a couple of times, as well as the people running the place, but what has stayed the same is the desire to provide a critical alternative or a counterforce to the normative capitalist culture. Currently it encompasses, for instance, distributing zines and books from small publishers, stirring up conversation and hosting reading circles and debates on interesting and important topics, organising solidarity events ranging from brunches to queer parties to gather funds for groups and campaigns in need, importing coffee directly from Zapatista co-operatives in Chiapas, and being an important safer space for minorities. Thus, the core remains the same; coffee, books, and discussion. Another original idea still strongly at work here is the desire to be uncommercial; no fee is required for a glass of water or the use of toilets (mentioning this feels silly, but sadly most cafés in Finland would charge you for both), and all our events are free of charge.
After three decades of varying activities and a few generation changes, the Book Café – or Kirjakahvila in Finnish – remains a volunteer and worker-run co-operative. Today it resides in the historical centre of the Old Turku, at Brinkkala courtyard, but the everyday programme is as diverse as the people who currently run the place. Within the walls of the Book Café you can participate in reading circles and book club meetings, listen to interesting lectures and (mostly local) bands, party in uncommercial queer clubs, watch documentaries and other films, enjoy monthly exhibitions by aspiring artists – and, of course, organize all these things and so much more yourself!
Renting and catering
It is also possible to rent the space for private occasions. The rent is 30€/hour on weekdays before 22.00, and 50€/hour after 22.00 and on weekends. Please note that private occasions held at Kirjakahvila are subject to same regulations as those held in other restaurants licensed to serve alcohol – i.e. you can’t bring in your own alcohol!
We can also provide (vegan) catering for your own occasions.
If you wish to rent the space, contact the co-operative secretary Iris Ahtola (info (a) kirjakahvila (dot) org).
For inquiries concerning catering or cake orders, please contact tilaukset (a) kirjakahvila (dot) org.
All Kirjakahvila volunteers and workers can be best contacted via email, email@example.com (without umlauts).
Co-operative: The annually selected board, consisting of volunteers, is responsible for most decisions concerning the co-operative. If you have ideas to put forward, contact the board at hallitus [a] kirjakahvila [dot] org. The co-operative secretary Iris Ahtola (info [a] kirjakahvila [dot] org) can tell you generally about the Book Café activities and cultural events, renting the space, administration, finances, etc.
Volunteering: If you want to volunteer at the Book Café, contact volunteer [a] kirjakahvila [dot] org.
Bookshop: the bookshop team, kirjala [a] kirjakahvila [dot] org.
Gallery: the gallery team, galleria [a] kirjakahvila [dot] org
The gallery team is in charge of choosing the exhibitions, advertising them, and putting up the exhibition with the artist(s). How to apply for an exhibition.
Music: Small-scale live music events are held every now and then. We have hosted gigs from all kinds of performers from singer-songwriters to hardcore punk bands. Due to our uncommercial stance, all events held at the Book Café are free of charge, so we can’t really pay gig fees to the performers either. Non-local artists can be offered a maximum of 50 €/event for travelling costs. If you still want to perform at the Book Café, contact the music team, musiikki [a] kirjakahvila [dot] org, preferably with links to your band page or music.
JOIN THE CO-OP!
Do you want to support The Book Café co-operative by becoming a member? Anyone who agrees with our principles is welcome to apply for membership. You can buy one (17 €) or more shares of the co-operative. Membership does not require taking part in day-to-day activities, but active volunteers are always welcome!
The board of the co-op processes applications monthly and approves new members. Your share(s) will be invoiced after that. Thank you for your support!
Turku Book Café is a non-profit volunteer-based co-operative. We are party politically and religiously non-aligned and aim at being broad-minded, non-discriminatory and community-driven in all our actions. We see ourselves as active participants in the struggle for a more economically and socially egalitarian and ecologically sustainable society. Promoting and appreciating arts, especially literature and DIY culture, is also central in our work.
Our daily existence consists of running a café and bookstore, organising and enabling a variety of cultural events, participating in societal discussion and providing a space for events and activities that comply with our principles.
In the Book Café we follow a safer space policy and do not accept racist, islamophobic, anti-semitist, sexist, homophobic, transphobic, ableist or otherwise discriminatory behaviour. Respect everyone’s right to self-determination. Do not touch, stare, photograph or ask personal questions without consent. Use the name and pronoun given by the person. If problems arise, you can turn to the Book Café staff either at the café or by contacting us later. You can find our contact details at http://www.kirjakahvila.org/yhteys.
We ask our visitors to be attentive towards people with asthmatic symptoms and avoid using scents.
Turku Book Café is located in a property protected by the Finnish Heritage Agency, and the property does not have accessible entrance. We are currently having talks with the city to try to make the space more accessible, and it does look promising. But for now, we are still very inaccessible especially for wheelchair users.
The Book Café is located in the Brinkkala courtyard, which has two entrances: one on the side of Vanha Suurtori and the other on the side of Hämeenkatu. The courtyard is paved with cobblestones and gritted during the winter. It is possible to drive into the courtyard from the side of Hämeenkatu, but we don’t have visitor parking spots.
Arrival from the side of Vanha Suurtori: moving through the archway, there is about 30 meters of cobblestones until the entrance to the Book Café.
Arrival from the side of Hämeenkatu: about 50 meters of sandy road on a decline, then 30 meters of cobblestones before the Book Café entrance.
By the entrance, there is one 15 cm step and the maximum width of the door is 108 cm, when both doors are open. If you need help with access in entering, call the Book Café number on +35824691396.
Indoor spaces: The doorways of the Book Café have thresholds that are 3,5–4,5 cm high. There are thresholds at every doorway including the entrance. The most accessible room is opposite the entrance, with a doorway width of 84 cm.
Sales: The café products and the cash register are located in the room to the left as you enter the café. The entrance into the room is 86 cm wide and there are two steps, 8 cm and 13 cm high. Next to the register there are entrances to two other cafe rooms. One of the rooms has a 9 cm high step in addition to the raised threshold mentioned previously.
Toilets: The café has non-gendered toilets, and one of them has a changing table for changing diapers. The toilets are not wheelchair accessible due to the narrow door frames and small size. The nearest accessible toilet is in Turun Taidehalli (The Turku Art Hall). It is available for use during Taidehalli’s opening hours, Wed–Sat 12–18 and Sun 12–16 (last confirmed 25 February 2022 at https://turuntaidehalli.fi). To access the toilet, ring the doorbell on Taidehalli’s rear entrance, which can be found at the backyard. On Mondays and Tuesdays and evenings, the closest accessible toilet is in restaurant Via Tribunali (the former Pinella), which is open Mon–, Fri 11–23, Sat 12–23 and Sun 12–20 (last confirmed 25 February 2022 at https://viatribunali.fi/ravintolat/turku). The accessible toilet can be found by the main entrance.
Guide dogs and pets: Non-human animals are currently welcome at the café terrace and the small room by the entrance. Please be attentive to other visitors’ possible allergies or fear of animals. Please do not bring animals to loud music events. Guide dogs and other assistance animals are always welcome in the café.
If you have any questions or thoughts about the accessibility
of the café, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our accessibility group at accessibility [a] kirjakahvila [dot] org.