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THE ARCHIVE OF ETERNITY

THE NATIONAL LIBRARY

If you are looking for something that has been published in a newspaper, a magazine, digital documents, film, video, photography, maps, broadcasting, audio books, music, sheet music, postcards, posters, small print, manuscripts or maybe in a book, chances are that you will find it inside the mountain, Mofjellet. Most of the archive is available online, but if you need the original version, one of the speedy robots flies into the mountains and picks it up. The world's most digital and advanced national library is located in Mo i Rana.

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It is not only fiction and non-fiction that is archived at the National Library. Photo: Dreamstime

Fortunately, Norwegian bookshelves and archives have been inherited for many hundreds of years. Church books, letters, notes and books have been regarded as a valuable cultural heritage, and with great success much has been preserved. We are all grateful for what has been written, every single letter from the Viking Age until today. And we as a society would be poor without it.  

 

Even while Norway was in union with Denmark, it was a duty to archive and hand over transcripts and copies of printed matter to the Royal Library in Copenhagen. When the union ended in 1814, the University Library in Oslo was sent by royal resolution, all compulsory copies of books that earlier had been sent to Copenhagen.

In 1999, the University Library changed its name to the National Library. The department open to the public are still located in Oslo, and in Mo i Rana scanning, restoration and digitization are the main tasks. Only employees have access to the advanced production facilities just outside Mo  Rana's city center, and only robots are allowed into the valuable archives deep inside the mountain.

In the years after 1814, Norway established many libraries around the long country, and the number of books along the way had become formidable. It was gradually realized that a national clean-up was needed, and in order to free up shelf space for new books, it was planned in the late 80's to send books that were rarely lent to a national depot in Mo i Rana.

That was the idea, but it quickly became so much, much more!

Nasjonalbiblioteket, Mo i Rana

Old audio and film and video archives are being digitized in Mo i Rana with world-leading methods and technology

Until 1989, the tasks as a national library were subordinated to the Norwegian department 

The University Library in Oslo. The library integrated the use of computers early on, and a national bibliography was produced electronically as early as 1971.

 

In 1989, the Storting decided to establish a department of the National Library with thirty employees in Mo i Rana. Those who were recruited to the new department had a background from heavy industrial work, and they naturally looked at the work tasks with completely different eyes than what the faithful librarians had done for many years. With process expertise, they turned established methods upside down, and suddenly an industrial handling of the tasks was established. This gave a completely different streamlined efficiency, the tasks were solved better and it was quickly seen that there was spare capacity.

Digitization, ie scanning of books and newspapers, emerged, and the industrial background accelerated competence building. Most Norwegian newspaper archives in paper format were eventually sent to Mo i Rana, and thus the distance was not great to also take care of Norsk Film and NRK's formidable archive, and a number of other private collections and archives. Much of what is sent to Mo i Rana is scanned, prepared and digitized, and surprisingly much is made available on the internet.

But do not think that the material is thrown away after scanning! All material is carefully packed and numbered, and is sent to the National Library's huge rock halls inside the Mo mountain. Only lightning-fast robots are employed here, and all loan inquiries are handled lightning-fast and with great  accuracy.

As early as 1994, Arne Bendiksen donated tens of thousands of master tapes from his studio and publishing activities to the National Library.  In August 2017, the National Library received a large collection of historical maps of Norway and the Nordic countries, including the oldest map showing Norway (from 1482). The collection was given as a gift by the Sparebankstiftelsen, which bought the collection of the maps from the collector William B. Ginsberg.

Nasjonalbiblioteket, Mo i Rana

Old maps have also been scanned and made available on the National Library's website

The first thirty who were hired in 1989, together with later employees, contributed to creating an international success. Today, the number of employees has more than doubled (330 employees in 2021) and the department receives visits from libraries and universities around the world who want to study and learn from the success.

The National Library's archives and collections today (2020) consist of more than 3.1 million books, 5.7 million newspapers, 3.3 million pictures, 400,000 films. 1.3 million hours of TV and video recording, and much, much more. Most of this is available online with a few keystrokes.

Nasjonalbiblioteket, Mo i Rana

Inside the giant mountain archives there are advanced robots that keep order

Nasjonalbiblioteket, Mo i Rana

The National Library's search engine on the internet is an exciting visit

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