One Country is Digitizing All Books, And Making Them Free For Its Citizens
One Country is Digitizing All Books, And Making Them Free For Its Citizens
By Benjamin Cosman /

The news: Norway is well on its way to digitizing every book in its National Library and making them all free to access for any Norwegian citizen. That means hundreds of thousands of books will be available to anyone accessing the collection online with a Norwegian IP address.

According to the National Library, “all published content, in all media” is being digitized, which includes “material dating from the Middle Ages up to the current day.” 

The plan: The digitization of the library collection began in 2006 and is expected to take 20 to 30 years, with an end goal of the mid-2020s. The Norwegian Legal Deposit Act requires everything published in the country be deposited in the National Library’s collections, which means everything published in Norway will eventually be uploaded to the digital archives. According to the library’s website, “several terabytes of data” flow into the archives each day, ranging from books to handwritten documents to audio files. 

The reasons the National Library gives for digitization are quite noble. “Users should be able to enjoy access to a large variety of digital content from wherever they are located, and whenever they want,” it says on its website. It’s digitizing what it calls “the nation’s collective memory” and will “safeguard the collection for future generations.”

Why this matters: This is actually really freaking cool. All published material, regardless of copyright, will eventually be at the fingertips of every Norwegian citizen. Non-copyrighted material, and material with expired copyrights, will be available for download.

Sure, Google might be trying to do this by itself, but it’s notable to see an entire country get behind this sort of digitizing effort. As The Atlantic notes, Norway already has the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, preserving the agriculture history of the world. The country seems hell-bent on ensuring that the totality of human knowledge is around for a long time to come.


Benjamin Cosman's avatar image Benjamin Cosman

Ben graduated from SUNY Geneseo with a B.A. in English Literature and a minor in Political Science. He recently traveled through New England looking for pie. His second-favorite pastime is googling pictures of politicians laughing.

0.0 ·
What's Next
Trending Today
Noam Chomsky Has 'Never Seen Anything Like This'
Chris Hedges · 18,941 views today · Noam Chomsky is America’s greatest intellectual. His massive body of work, which includes nearly 100 books, has for decades deflated and exposed the lies of the power elite...
For Those Who Don't Want to Vote for the Lesser of Two Evils
Peter White · 13,346 views today · Ranked-choice voting is catching on, and Maine might become the first state to help citizens vote for candidates they actually want.
Your Lifestyle Has Already Been Designed (The Real Reason For The Forty-Hour Workweek)
David Cain · 10,530 views today · Well I’m in the working world again. I’ve found myself a well-paying gig in the engineering industry, and life finally feels like it’s returning to normal after my nine months...
Donald Trump Is the Mirror and Hillary Clinton Is the Mask
Chris Agnos · 9,527 views today · Disclaimer: I do not support Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton for president. I think the scope of the political debate is far too narrow for the kinds of actions that need to...
Anarchists - What We Stand For
unknown · 8,541 views today · Anarchism : The word “anarchy” comes from Greek and means “no rulers”. As a political philosophy, anarchism is based on the idea that organization does not require rulers—that...
Gil Scott-Heron Deconstructs Colonialism and Black History in His Own Unique Style
3 min · 6,134 views today · His-Story: I was wondering about our yesterdays, and starting searching through the rubble and to say the very least, somebody went to a hell of a lot of trouble to make sure...
10 Quotes From an Oglala Lakota Chief That Will Make You Question Everything About Our Society
Wisdom Pills · 5,056 views today · Luther Standing Bear was an Oglala Lakota Sioux Chief who, among a few rare others such as Charles Eastman, Black Elk and Gertrude Bonnin occupied the rift between the way of...
HyperNormalisation (2016)
161 min · 4,288 views today · We live in a time of great uncertainty and confusion. Events keep happening that seem inexplicable and out of control. Donald Trump, Brexit, the War in Syria, the endless...
Donald and Hobbes Is Genius
Various · 4,152 views today · Some clever folk have been replacing precocious 6-year-old Calvin, from the Calvin and Hobbes comic strips, with Donald Trump and the results are, well, take a look...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 1,782 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Our Obsession With 'Good Immigrants' Breeds Intolerance
2 min · 1,729 views today · Society sets the bar so high to become a 'good immigrant', argues writer Nikesh Shukla, that normal immigrants are demonised. He says non-Brits in the public eye have a simple...
My Cuba - An Intimate Look at the Pleasures and Struggles of 6 Different People's Cuba
150 min · 1,670 views today · Cuba - diverse, vibrant and complex - is undergoing immense change. But what does it mean to be Cuban in this time of change? Six people. Six films. From the comedy and ballet...
Lessons in the Calais Jungle: Teaching Life Stories and Learning About Humanity
Aura Lounasmaa · 1,644 views today · I am part of a team of academics teaching a course to residents in the Calais Jungle, a camp for migrants and refugees outside the French city. Life Stories in the Jungle has...
Planet Earth II Could Be Best Nature Doc Ever Made
3 min · 985 views today · 10 years ago Planet Earth changed our view of the world. Now we take you closer than ever before. This is life in all its wonder. This is Planet Earth II. A decade ago, the...
Bird Watching on Lesvos Island - A Poetic Call to Stand With Refugees
3 min · 883 views today · Born in Darfur, Sudan and raised in Philadelphia, Emi Mahmoud is the 2015 World Poetry Slam Champion and the Women of the World co-Champion of 2016. From a young age Emi...
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 843 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
The White Man in That Photo
Riccardo Gazzaniga · 663 views today · Sometimes photographs deceive. Take this one, for example. It represents John Carlos and Tommie Smith’s rebellious gesture the day they won medals for the 200 meters at the...
John Lennon's "Imagine," Made Into a Comic Strip
John Lennon. Art by Pablo Stanley · 576 views today · This is easily the best comic strip ever made.  Pabl
The Important Difference Between Love and Being Loved
2 min · 506 views today · We talk of love as if it were just one thing: in fact, it’s two very different moves, Loving and Being Loved. You start to grow up when you stop focusing on the latter and get...
Alliance of 600,000 British Doctors Calls for 'Imperative' Coal Phase-Out
Nadia Prupis · 473 views today · Doing so would constitute 'double win for tackling the twin health threats of air pollution and climate change,' report states
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
One Country is Digitizing All Books, And Making Them Free For Its Citizens