Frozen-rails-2014

Norway's Showing Off Again


We always suspected it; all those photos of the beautiful fjords, the picturesque houses, cultured lawns and towering evergreen forests; Norwegians love their trees. The National Library of Norway decided to confirm that once and for all when they announced plans to digitize their entire collection, and since there is this thing in Norway called The Norwegian Legal Deposit Act all published content, in all media, must be deposited with them.

No more will nature feel the cruel bite of steel to fuel man’s thirst for letters, at least, you know, metaphorically. This hugely ambitious plan started back in 2006 but since I only read about it yesterday, you get to hear about it today. The library features materials that date back to the Middle Ages, and everything, all of it, is being digitized. They’ve estimated it will take them between 20 - 30 years to complete the project although considering that new books are always being written, newspapers published daily and magazines released all over the place, will it ever really be over?

It’s not just books either, all pictures, newspapers, audio and video recordings are also going to being digitized. Old television and radio broadcasts and other sound recordings are all going to be processed. Even the small fiddly stuff like manuscripts, handwritten documents and notes too. Seriously, when these guys say they're going to do something, they go all out.

Norway have history in thinking big and committing to ambitious plans. They've got a sovereign wealth fund estimated to be worth $1tr by 2020 because they've been focussing on long term investments using the wealth generated from their oil and gas industries. Plus there’s the Global Seed Vault in Svalbard built to house copies of all the worlds seeds just in case of a nuclear war or asteroid strike. These guys plan like no one else, and their intention is to protect the nation’s wealth in knowledge and history well into the next millennium through this digitization project.

The future is only one part of their consideration though, once the library is digitized they intend to make as much available online to anyone accessing the library with a Norwegian IP address. They've said that all out of copyright works will be free to access and through a collaboration they have a service called Bokhylla.no (The Bookshelf) specifically for Norwegian literature which plans to make 250,000 books from the entire 20th century available to download when completed in 2017.

Norway, I love you but do you have to show the rest of us up so often?

Image courtesy of Shutterstock // Norway Trees

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