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Norway's entire National Library will soon be be stored online

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Joran Waerdah/Oslo Visitors and Convention Bureau

(Read caption) One building of Norway's National Library is located in Oslo.

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Imagine being able to search, access, and read the country’s entire collection of books online.

In Norway, that will soon be a reality.

That country’s National Library is in the process of digitizing all the books it holds and making them free, searchable, and available to read online, to all Norwegians.

Because Norway’s National Library is a “legal deposit library” and holds a copy of all books published in the country, the project will digitize the entirety of Norwegian literature – which reaches into the Middle Ages – into an electronic archive, eventually accessible on the cloud, as the UK’s Independent pointed out.

“This means that large part of Norwegian culture and knowledge dating back as far as the Middle Ages…will be made available in the Digital National Library,” the National Library of Norway’s website announced.  

It’s an ambitious and massive project. The library has estimated it will take 20 to 30 years to complete the digitization. The project, which launched in 2006, has so far digitized 350,000 newspaper editions, 235,000 books, and 240,000 pages of handwritten manuscripts as well as some radio broadcasts and TV programs, according to the Huffington Post.

There is some controversy here: the project will digitize both copyrighted and non-copyrighted material; the former will be available only to Norwegians (recognized by their Norwegian IP address), while the latter will be free and available to all Internet users. 

In the US, some groups are struggling to digitize English-language works while battling publisher and author groups regarding copyright and fair use. It was just one month ago that Google Books, Google’s massive digitization project, was declared legal by a US circuit judge after nearly a decade of legal battles and project setbacks.


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