05 January 2018

Norway • Digizitation

The National Library of Norway is digitizing its ENTIRE collection.

Yes, you read that sentence accurately!

In a article published by the Atlantic, on December 3, 2013 journalist Alexis C. Madrigal penned the sub-title "Between this and the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, Norsk people are set for the future." The article was published in the 'Technology" section of the periodical, so this may have gone unnoticed by Norwegian-American family historians. You can read the article for yourself on the Atlantic's website.

The news-story stated that "By law, 'all published content, in all media, [must] be deposited with the National Library of Norway,' so when the library is finished scanning, the entire record of a people's language and literature will be machine-readable and sitting in whatever we call the cloud in 15 years." This is simply amazing. The Norwegians are a people that are preparing for the deep future. "Suddenly, the Norwegians become to 27th-century humans what the Greeks were to the Renaissance."

"If you happen to be in Norway, as measured by your IP address, you will be able to access all 20th century works, even those still under copyright."

What does this mean for us here...in the United States?
Not all is lost. As I sit here in my studio in Seattle, some 4551 miles from Oslo -- a journey of 11 hours and 10 minutes by air-- I have some access to this amazing digitization initiative. It does take some patience and tenacity. Take your time, be patient, and don't give up. It's kind of like mining for gold. Yes, much of the site is written in Norwegian (obviously), but some is in English and trusting that you can pick out some words is encouraging.

Here are some suggestions to get started. 

1. This is a link to the section of the library that has been digitized: https://www.nb.no/nbsok/search.

2. On the left side of the page you will see these options: Category • Period • Sorting • Language. You can limit your search using these fields. However I suggest that you begin more simply and search on a general subject, like Sami. When you do this you'll see that you get the following hits (as of 1.5.2018)

  • Newspapers (17,802)
  • Books (679)
  • Radio (2476)
  • Program reports (3711)
  • Journal (587)

You can click on any of the categories and it will help limit your search. I've found it useful to limit the search by 'Period', such as 1800-1899. You'll see that some are written in Norwegian, some in Sami and some in English.  Note: You will even see other languages, like Swedish, Norwegian Bokmål, Danish, German, Norwegian (Old Norse), etc.

3. When you click on the link, wait.  It may be slow, but it will then provide you with a digitized version of the book. You can then use the toolbar to view the image. AMAZING. To help you get started, here are links to some of the 'gold nuggets' that I found:

4. You will notice that all of the titles listed above are in English, but the actual book is in Norwegian. My search engine, Google Chrome, automatically translates (if I say yes to the prompt) SOME information into English. NOT the digitized item, but what will get me to the item. Also, some books were published in Norway, but others were published in America and have been deposited in the National Library. 

5. Search for something!  Explore the search options. Be patient. Some books will be accessible by your US IP address, and some won't. If you find a book that is limited to a Norwegian IP address, then go to Worldcat.org and see if that book is available in a library closer to home. 

I would be very interested to hear about what you discover. Please share your finds in the comment section of this blog.

Tusen Takk

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