I saw a story hit the front page about the [National library of Norway](www.nb.no)

And I thought maybe people might have some questions about it. So here I am.

Here are some videos and pictures from the facilities.


EDIT: For more questions you can always check out the official NB facebook and twitter :)

Twitter : @NBveiledning

Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/nasjonalbiblioteket

Comments: 325 • Responses: 79  • Date: 

vtaznj40 karma

What is the weirdest piece of literature you have come across?

Viker_99 karma

I would have to say late 1800 early 1900 pornography ;)

BiscuitEngineer33 karma

Is it digitized already? :D

Viker_6 karma


403redditor3 karma


Viker_6 karma

I have no idea if it is available. It was a photography collection. Yes they are digitized too.

brajx21 karma

Adding to that question, what's you favourite piece of literature that you've come across.

You're allowed to use the same answer twice.

Viker_16 karma

Ohh another good one, a science journal from the 1950is where it was written that in the future milk and other liquids will be sold in paper boxes, if we manage to find a way to make the boxes water resistant :P

brajx6 karma

Well it did sort of come true, still somehow a bit funny though.

You Norwegians do have milk tetras or a norwegian equivalent, right?

Viker_17 karma

That is the funny thing that it was a prediction for the future that came true... Now where is my hover board

Viker_9 karma

The hand written parliament regulations and summaries from 1884 ;)

zblinks31 karma

Won't this completely undermine copyright laws and ultimately cause economic demise for the author and publisher?

Viker_89 karma

I will just copy paste my answer:

Books that are being published are not made immediately available. Musicians get their music on the radio. Movies are rent-able and watchable on TV. Why should not the same be for books. It is just another medium.

If someone really wants the book he can still buy it.

Zithe714 karma

It sounds from reading your other answers that not every book is gonna be made available, only those books that publishers agree on and public domain books. Sounds to me like a typical non-controversial, well-intended, state-run, culture-promoting project where the government is gonna do something like the Gutenberg project plus ask publishers if they would contribute some works. Definitely not a revolutionary new stance or interpretation of copyright.

If this was the case, when zblinks asks:

Won't this completely undermine copyright laws and ultimately cause economic demise for the author and publisher?

A more helpful answer would have been something like:

Copyright is being respected as usual. Although we are digitizing everything, we'll only make available public domain books and those commercial books that publishers agree to.

Instead, you answer with an argument in favor of a looser enforcement of copyright (which is interesting thanks in that I hadn't thought of that before.) This makes it look as if indeed, Norway is taking a whole new stance on copyright.

So let me ask you, are you intentionally perpetuating, by omission, a glorified but erroneous interpretation of these news for karma, good sir? Or perhaps you are ideologically motivated?

Viker_5 karma

You are absolutely right.

I just never was much into the whole legal aspect of the operation. Yes not all books are made available to the public digitally.

LinuxUser4Life7 karma

Is there going to be a queue for online digital books similar to physical books? As in if you guys buy 5 copies of the book then you'll only allow 5 people to read the online copy until set amount of time?

Viker_44 karma

Also, I want to mention the the library does not need to "buy" the books ;) Since it is decided by legislation that every published book should be submitted to the national library in at least three copies ;)

Viker_12 karma

Not As far as I know. If the books is available, it will be available to everyone.

hoowahoo5 karma

But there is still some form of payment associated with getting the songs on the radio or the movies on TV. In Norway's model, you said that the legislature just requires all published books be sent to this digitization service. How can that compensate writers, even tangentially?

Viker_7 karma

They are sent to the library to be "kept safe", not all books are made available.

There has been on occasions when publishers or authors come to request a copy back because they have "lost" or misplaced originals...

Not books, but i know definitely it has happened with master print movies.

Vpicone4 karma

But musicians and movie companies are paid royalties which are subsidized by advertising...

Viker_14 karma

Yes but authors and artists just like the national tv and radio stations are subsidized by taxpayer money.

Zithe72 karma

So some Norwegian writers and publishers get grants and that means that I don't get to make money on the Norwegian translation of a book I wrote in another country?

But ok, let's even say I'm a Norwegian writer and I get a grant of 40,000 kroners. Does that mean all my books that are published in Norwegian, for the rest of my life, now belong to the public domain? That's potentially millions of kroners lost. I'm losing quite a bit of value if that is the case. Or am I supposed to look for another job to support myself, or keep hoping for grants? Perhaps you'd like me to look for a patron? Man this approach seems very shitty, unless we were to heavily restructure the economy and have the government take control of a lot of things that... Oh, oooh, Wait...


Viker_10 karma

No. Writers still get paid royalties from the publishers. But the government and the people still have the right to the product, not at release but eventually.

Zithe73 karma

You are describing public domain.

I take it you are implying that the terms should be much shorter. Public domain in Norway starts 70 years after the death of the author. This government project isn't changing that unless you have information that says otherwise.

What should the term be like, in your opinion?

Viker_3 karma

It is like a library... Only digital...

typpeo1 karma

How does that work for authors from other countries that have their books translated into Norwegian?

Viker_1 karma

I honestly dont know.

pwniess21 karma

How long does it take to digitize one book?

Viker_48 karma

It is hard to say per book. The current speed of the facilities is about a couple of thousand books a week.

The process of digitizing a book is that it has to be scanned then the scans have to be compressed into different file types for different purposes. Then it has to be OCR'ed. The ocr has to be sometimes edited by people, and on the top of everything you have to add the bureaucracy.

CBR0116 karma

Can you go in a bit more depth on this? What type of equipment do you use to scan at that speed and what brand is it? What do you use for OCR?

I ask because my job involves digitalizing old documents and am always looking for ways to make it a better, more efficient process while improving the quality.

Viker_5 karma

Here u can see the scanners for sensitive books and documents.


I forgot the name of the OCR software but it is something commercial.

pwniess4 karma

That is very interesting. So how long to digitize everything published in Norway? Years?

Viker_3 karma

Work started around. 2002-3 I think.... Not sure.. Plan is to be done around 2015-17 but more things gets digitized all the time...

KennyLog-in20 karma

Please provide proof, thanks.

Viker_42 karma

This is my access card and my passport.


is that ok ?

notananthem18 karma

Does the Norwegian National Library have a multi-pass? LEE LOO DALLAS MOOL TEE PASS.

Viker_14 karma

Yes... The facilities where the actual work is done is restricted area with security ;) and it is in a small town 1000 km away from the administrative part of the National Library.


I love how you guys have a battle axe on your passports. I wish my country was that cool.

Viker_2 karma

Yehh.. Those lions with axes on the north pole get a bit annoying

altgenetics17 karma

How are you handling DRM? Will these books be readable by a screen reader or available in DAISY format for the print disabled?

Viker_20 karma

Books that are older than 50 or 100 years... A bit un sure about the time are also downloadable as PDF.

Viker_12 karma

I have never thought how would a screen reader would process the OCR data, but the OCR data is available for the books.

Currently the library uses a book viewer that displays the books. That makes it uncomfortable but not impossible for reading books on anything other than a computer screen.

altgenetics3 karma

If the system is essentially just displaying the image of the page of a specific book - that is pretty much useless for a person who is print disabled. As in order to read the page they would have to be using the newest version of a specific screen reader that has added OCR capability that could recognize the text embedded in an image on the display. The print disabled user would then have to do this for every page as they scroll through - making the utility of this service immeasurably small if not completely useless.

That's an unfortunate fact.

Viker_7 karma

It is unfortunate indeed. Features for disabled users are in the plans but not in the near future...

Wormhog4 karma

What format do you use for the e-books? (Please say EPUB....)

Viker_19 karma

ePub :)

That was one of my main responsibilities ! :P

fathairybeast10 karma


Viker_30 karma

So... if you come with a rare book and say that it is a family heirloom we will take it, gently and bring it to the scanning workshop. Here

The we will gently place it into this scanner. Which will take a pic (scan) every page with, gently ! And the you can have your book back.

If it is a book that can be discarded we cut the "spine" of the book ( where the pages are glued. What you end up with is a pile of pages that literally get shot through an industrial document scanner, after that is done the paper goes for recycling . Something like this pic

EDIT: Thank to /u/Chuk for pointing out that it is called spine not back

JuxtaTerrestrial8 karma

What's your favorite color?

Viker_18 karma


kziv11 karma

Awesome, those are my favorite colors too! We used them for our wedding since my husband's favorite color is purple.

Viker_11 karma


Lexiclown6 karma

... Now what?

TheyCallHimJames2 karma

What if /u/Viker_ is /u/kziv's husband?

Viker_3 karma

Wanna marry us ?

ALighterShadeOfPale6 karma

People's whose career it is to write books to obtain money from selling them, do you think with digitalizing and making them free will decrease the number of authors?

Viker_12 karma

You can say the same for traditional libraries.

Also there is another thing that books that are being published are not made immediately available. Musicians get their music on the radio. Movies are rent-able and watchable on TV. Why should not the same be for books. It is just another medium.

Pudgy_Ninja2 karma

Traditional libraries buy each book and can only lend that book to one person at a time. Is Norway paying the author every time a digital copy is given out?

Viker_11 karma

There is a different system in Norway. Since most of the authors are actually payed an "author salary" by the state.


Are you saying that the only books being digitized are Norwegian books?

Viker_7 karma


xcomer1 karma

wo wo wo, wait! You telling me i can get paid by the state to write books! Time to move to Norway.

Viker_5 karma

You get paid if you publish books,.....

Frexxia5 karma

What decides which books are made available online? I made a few searches on some Norwegian authors, and it seemed to me like none of their books that were published after 2000 have been made available. Is this just because they haven't "gotten to" more recent books yet, or is there a conscious decision not to make newer books available?

Viker_13 karma

Well there is still the thing about copy right and copy left :P

Some books are digitized and consciously not being available because of deals that have to be settled with the publishers, and other bureaucratic matters.

Frexxia6 karma

So I take it there is no set time after which a book will be available, then?

edit: Thanks for the answers by the way. I am Norwegian, but had no idea that the online library existed.

Viker_8 karma

Many Norwegians don't. Also there is a physical copy of every book in storage ;)

Look at the link I posted in the topic.

Also, there is a set time where the copyright is no longer valid and a book becomes public domain. I am not sure it is 50 or 100 years

Zithe72 karma

So basically, Norway is not actually gonna make every book available, only those books that the publishers decide to or public domain books like the Gutenberg project. Is that what you are saying?

Is the government forcing the issue at all through legislation or is it just asking nicely? Because if it's the latter, this isn't as much of a big deal as people is thinking.

If the government is just asking nicely, what kind of coverage do you expect of non-public domain books published? Do you expect most of the books to be published, or just a tiny minority, or what?

Viker_1 karma

To some extend yes. Not EVERY book will be available to the general public.

EVERY book,magazine,newspaper etc. is digitized but not made available, by government legislation.

AnotherAnotherJosh4 karma

I love libraries, but do you believe they are destined for extinction due to everything being digitized and uploaded to the cloud for easy access? Also, is Norway as amazing a place to live and raise a family as it appears to be?

Viker_13 karma

Long term as in the next 50 years. YES

People are becoming very spoiled when it comes to the way they expect to receive information, everything is becoming instant and fast. So I believe that when the older generations die out. Libraries would be a place only for the specially interested. Since the younger generation will be so accustomed to having digital access to information.

As for the time being now. Many people don't want to bother with digital books, since it is not an easy and accessible way to read books. The moment we get the one click to kindle thing, then things might start changing.

Ais34 karma

Best regards from a Finnish national library dev, what are you doing nowadays?

Viker_4 karma

Cheers, and hello back to fellow Finnish developers, :)

I work in the private sector at the moment :)

Developers are needed in the N.Library here if u plan on moving ;)

The-White-House3 karma

Try resubmitting in 5 hours this time tomorrow.

Viker_16 karma


semi-Wonder_Woman3 karma

Will you guys still keep the books? I love reading mostly for that smell that comes with the pages, it's so comforting to me.

EDIT: If you don't keep the books, where will they end up going?

Viker_14 karma

Rare books that are hard to come by are scanned on special scanners that preserve the book. After it has been scanned, the book goes into a special storage facility for long term storage.

New books and the ones that are easily attainable are "destroyed" during the scanning process. The paper is then recycled.


Can anyone one from any country access these digitized books?

Viker_6 karma

I think so...

Just go to www.nb.no and search from something. I think some books are available from anywhere.

Just serach for : Ibsen

valkedin3 karma

You say that you used to be a developer in the National Library. What is your position now ?

Viker_3 karma

I am a software / hardware ish engineer in the private sector. I work with CNC machines

Thaffy3 karma

This feature is awesome, you even have Donald Duck!

Viker_3 karma

And boxes upon boxes of donald duck toys....

I think they used to send 7 physical copies of donald duck. 1 toy gets archived the rest goes into a big pile in the basement that gets thrown away if a kid doesn't want it ;)

rubberseatbelt3 karma

For current books, wouldn't it be easier to get the digital manuscripts (Pagemaker or Quark) from the publishers?

Viker_3 karma

It is. And it is being done

HariboG2 karma

Will the National Library in Norway digitize and OCR university and college text books?

Viker_10 karma

The ones published in Norway yes...

But just to remind you that all students get scholarships to cover the cost of books ;)

lookiammikey2 karma

What kind of impact do you think this will have?

Viker_9 karma

Norway is not unique in this.

Other libraries have done the same. Top of my head: Australian, Library of Congress, UK.

Viker_9 karma

Also... Most Norwegians don't even know that this exists. Very few would actually use it as a source for reading books. It is a very good research tool for scholars.

AbselutlyNobody1 karma

Great thing you guys are doing! Quick question about the library:

Can I just come in and borrow any book in there?

Viker_2 karma


But you can go to your local library and request it. Then it can be dispatched from NB.

If the book is non-borrow you can go to the National Library in Oslo where u can order it and it will be dispatched to there but u can use it in the library.

If it is a one of kind copy and u need access to the physical book you have to give a good reason why ( usually researchers get access to them ) where you can use the book in a special area where only pencils are allowed :)

djangokill1 karma

Are you replacing Norway's existing library of paper texts with a digital library or is the digital library an extension to the National Library? Also I'm curious if you are digitizing your whole collection or if there are certain texts that you have decided not to digitize? I ask because my concern with digitizing library's, is the possibility of certain texts being censored or lost depending on the criteria for digitization.

Viker_3 karma

The mandate is the EVERYTHING gets digitized. Nothing is left out, even the commercials in the newspapers.

The main purpose of this to preserve it for future generations. A copy of every books is also stored physically here : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MmbLl5lvyY

Making it available to the public is more like lets do it because we can, and they they are paying for it anyway so they should have access to it.

ganja_is_ganja1 karma

how do you think this transformation will advance the education in Norway?

Viker_2 karma

I think this will make research much easier.

Nieves901 karma

Do you have a degree in computer science or library science? Very interested in this field!

Viker_2 karma

I have a degree in computer science.

ghostofgarborg1 karma

Are you able to obtain digital editions of newer books (i.e. 80s onwards) from the publishers? After all, when a properly typeset and digitally rendered document exists, it would make more sense to base a digitized version on that than needlessly scanning and OCRing a print edition of a digital document.

Viker_1 karma

I answered something similar. But yes. Digital versions are preffered if they exist.

Mr_Pitchfork1 karma


Viker_1 karma

I dont think I have heard of him.

poxycraft1 karma


Viker_2 karma

Ka skjer :P

MultiKdizzle1 karma

What are the prospects for automating this?

How feasible would a machine that could physically open and scan different sized books, and how advanced would AI have to be to eventually correct for scanning errors?

Viker_2 karma

coffee-junkie1 karma

What exactly is "everything published in Norway"?

I saw the other front page thing and wondered what exactly this means. Is it only books that are published in Norway only -- or books that were Published in multiple countries and Norway, or what exactly?

Also -- is there any publisher against this who tried/is trying to prevent their own publications from being digitized?

Viker_2 karma

Books. News papers, Magazines ( yes also porn ). Movies, Radio, TV. Commercials. pamphlets....

transhuman_anarchist1 karma

Why are you no longer working there?

Viker_1 karma

I got tiered of web programming, I have always been more of a low level C and C++ person... OpenGL :P

taxc1 karma

Do you prefer speaking Norwegian or English? Off topic I know

Viker_1 karma

I have lived in Norway for over 13 years, so Norwegian is natural to me.

But English is more expressive, so i prefer it ;)

Vadi21 karma

How are the books stored and what in? XML database?

Viker_3 karma

JPEG2000 and PNG or other lossless format, each file is accompanied by an xml with OCR data, meta data and etc. Also a big SQL database.

yreg1 karma

I used to be a developer like you but then I took… oh.

Viker_2 karma

Arrow to the finger ?

Fleudian1 karma

Two questions. First, could you describe your typical day at work? And second, what is your favorite part of your job?

Viker_3 karma

I was a programmer.... no comment ;)

I worked there for one a half years.... My favorite part of the job were my colleagues and all the hardware I had access to ;)

Oxyuscan1 karma

What is your relationship with the publishers like? Do modern printers use digital files in their process of printing books? Would it be possible for you to get PDF files or otherwise directly from publishers?

Edit: obviously this question pertains to contemporary books published in Norway

Viker_3 karma

There is a direct communication with all Norwegian publishers. Yes modern printers use digital files. Some publishers bother to make more human like readable files that they send to us and also sell as digital copies some don't.

If there is PDF or a digital copy for a book, it is preferred, since it is more environmentally friendly.

EDIT: Also different editions of books and reprints are stored by the N.Library. So if a book has a paper format, digital format and one for tablets, all 3 will be stored.

rooooobert1 karma

Which contemporary Norwegian author do you prefer, Jo Nesbø or Matias Faldbakken?

Viker_3 karma

Ironically... I am not much of a book reader...

But I would have to say Erlend Loe ;)

Caminsky1 karma

How much money do you think will cost the Norwegian government to do this?

Viker_2 karma

Around 500 million NOK a year.

That is around 80 Million USD.

kakoni1 karma

10 petabytes of data? How do you store all this? (Some enterprise solution, opensource/opencomputing/backblaze/etcetc or something else?)

Viker_2 karma

Mostly open source.

I think there are 2 digital backups on location, one off location, and one physical.

Grizzlyboy1 karma

Do you think nb.no can handle the traffic when the finals come? Hopefully schools will be better at informing about this huge book bank!

Viker_3 karma

Yes. NB is part of UniNet.

the-spb1 karma

Do you think this effort is scalable to larger countries, like the US?

Viker_2 karma

Yeh. UK , Finland and Australia are doing the same. Library of Congress has it.

RunHanRun1 karma

What was your biggest challenge?

Viker_4 karma

You have to be more specific.

Canadianbobo1 karma

Are the books going to be available to be read by citizens or will they be able to copy them to their own personal hard drives?

Viker_2 karma

Some books are downloadable in PDF format. some are not. Depends on the agreement with publishers.

Fuhdawin-1 karma

What is your general impression of Americans?

Viker_3 karma

Honestly I don't have any. I have friends that are from the US and they seem very cool ;)

angry_troll-3 karma

is it true your entire counrty's population is smaller than most major cities, and the lack of sunlight causes chemical changes in your brain that drive you to become antisocial and more adept at online anonymous communities.. to the point where people actually think your country matters?

Viker_3 karma

Yes and Yes.... Norwegians totally believe that !

Antisocial - Yes.

For the record: I am not Norwegian