Finland library installs karaoke booth

By News from Elsewhere... found by BBC Monitoring

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Image caption,
It might not look like a karaoke hotspot, but Tikkurila library visitors can belt out Whitney classics for hours

A library in southern Finland wants people to sing their hearts out during their next visit - in a soundproofed karaoke booth.

Officials in the city of Vantaa, near Helsinki, installed the karaoke zone at Tikkurila library earlier this year as part of a scheme to provide new services at libraries, public broadcaster Yle reports.

The idea is that people who don't fancy performing to a packed bar after a tipple or five can instead enjoy a sing-along in relative privacy, regardless of their ability to hold a tune. "Anyone at all can sing karaoke," says manager Villa Karinen. "Everyone can perform with the voice they have and there's no need to fear criticism here."

Locals can reserve up to two hours in the booth using their library cards, and once inside they'll be able to choose from more than 3,000 songs, all listed on the library's website. As well as hundreds of Finnish tunes, there's the option to tackle foreign numbers ranging from Black Sabbath to Engelbert Humperdinck via 50 Cent and - of course - Whitney, Mariah and Celine.

The idea has proved popular with all ages, Yle says, including residents of a nearby elderly care home, and those who want to overcome stage fright. The library even ran an adult education course using the booth - called Be Brave, Sing Karaoke - which offered pointers on using a microphone and dealing with nerves. Participant Anniina Rantanen tells the broadcaster that the booth allows people to practise in peace, and means that "you can sing while you're sober".

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