Article | Last updated: 24/01/2024 | Ministry of Culture and Equality
Everyone should have access to art and culture, no matter where they live. Making literature and books available to everyone in Norway is an important part of this.
The library system in Norway includes public and county libraries, school libraries, public and private academic and research libraries, and the National Library of Norway.
The Ministry of Culture and Equality has the overall national responsibility for library services, primarily through the allocation of funds to the National Library. Municipalities are responsible for public and school libraries, while the county authorities are responsible for library tasks and regional library development on the county level. The Ministry of Education and Research is responsible for academic and research libraries affiliated with universities and university colleges. The Public Library Act defines the overall objectives for public libraries and allocates responsibility among the different administrative levels.
The government’s national library policy is based on the National strategy for libraries 2020-2023 – A space for democracy and self-cultivation. The strategy aims to further develop libraries as relevant and important knowledge institutions that contribute to public information and education. The main feature of the strategy is active communication with users, the goal of which is to reach those who do not normally use the library. In autumn 2023, the Ministry of Culture and Equality presented an extended national library strategy aimed at strengthening efforts to encourage reading enjoyment and dissemination of literature in libraries, and to strengthen initiatives related to the national, digital infrastructure for libraries. The extended library strategy is in force until the end of 2025.
The National Library
Documentation of Norwegian culture and society should be available to all. One of the main tasks of the National Library is to secure and preserve legal deposit materials and other collections, and to encourage interest in and the use of these collections. The National Library also has the task of strengthening libraries as promoters of literature, knowledge and cultural heritage, as well as digitising document-based cultural heritage from Norwegian archives, libraries and museums.
In addition, the National Library is responsible for developing and strengthening libraries in Norway as active and relevant social institutions. This is accomplished by implementing the measures outlined in the national strategy for libraries. The National Library manages project and development funds to this end, and is also responsible for managing various library and literature-related measures, such as the Norwegian Institute for Children’s Books, the Association Read! (in Norwegian: Foreningen !les) and Leser søker bok (‘Reader seeks book’), as well as grants for prison libraries.
The Norwegian Library of Talking Books and Braille (NLB) was incorporated into the National Library on 1 July 2023, thereby giving the National Library responsibility for producing and lending audiobooks, e-books and braille books for those with visual impairments, dyslexia, or other disabilities that hinder their ability to read standard text and conventional books. The National Library helps to further develop and strengthen the supply of materials for this target group.
The National Library is located in Oslo and in Mo i Rana. The National Library in Oslo is responsible for library activities aimed at the public. This includes offering reading rooms and research workspaces, as well as communication activities such as physical events, permanent and temporary exhibitions. The Department for Library Development, as well as resources associated with National Library research activities and tasks taken over from the Norwegian Library of Talking Books and Braille, are also located here.
The responsibilities of the National Library in Mo i Rana include the collection, preservation and availability of material published for the Norwegian public, i.e. all legal deposit materials. In addition, cultural heritage materials from Norwegian archives, libraries and museums are digitised and stored at this location. The National Library’s Repository Library is located in Mo i Rana. The National Library’s collection of physical and digital materials are stored in a large mountain vault in Mo i Rana, where there is also a separate repository for storing archival materials from the National Archives of Norway.