From Directorate to Development Centre

The establishment of the Directorate in 1949 was a direct result of the Norwegian Library Act, first introduced in 1935. Amendments to the Act were last passed in 1985, but some selected sections of the legislation are now under review by the Ministry of Cultural and Church Affairs. The Library Act, together with directives from the Ministry, has constituted the basis for all the Directorate’s activities.A major objective for the Directorate has always been to make certain that Norway has a national library system which functions satisfactorily across the whole area. The aim is to ensure that all groups of society, regardless of language, cultural differences or functional disability, have adequate access to library services.

Throughout the years a certain priority has been given to the needs of children and young people with the central aims of promoting their contact with libraries and improving reading skills.

The Directorate administers subsidies, grants and state-financed activities. The opportunities for seeking project financing have been particularly important for the development of the public library sector. The duties of the Directorate also include the co-ordination of national projects, information initiatives and community contact. Biblioteknett Norge (, the Internet portal to Norwegian library resources, has become a central factor in carrying out these responsibilities. The Directorate takes part in Nordic and international cooperation and acts as adviser to the Ministry of Cultural and Church Affairs.

What of the transition from being a separate Directorate to becoming part of the new Development Centre for Archives, Libraries and Museums? The main difference is that the Centre is to be the national, strategic body for the development of all three sectors, with a consequent expansion of fields of professional interest. From the library point of view it is par ticularly significant that the public library and the special library sectors will be regarded as one. The Development Centre is the result of an amalgamation of the Norwegian Directorate for Public Libraries, the National Office for Research and Special Libraries and the Norwegian Institute for Museum Development. The activities of the new body will cover not only the promotion of joint co-operation and development but also the tasks specific to each sector. Particular attention will be paid to the challenges and possibilities presented by the information and knowledge society of today and of tomorrow. Within the library sector the main challenge wil l be to achieve efficient utilisation of all collective resources in order to offer users the best possible se rvice. This will naturally require the fullest use of the new technology. A further aim is the establishment of a digital library – bibliotek. no.

Where appropriate the new body will work for joint utilisation of all the sources of knowledge within the three member sectors. The Centre will operate in accordance with criteria that are functional, rather than sector-specific, but the three sectors will continue to exist as independent,cultural areas and the majority of activities in the new body will remain sector-oriented. Compared to today’s Directorate, the focus will be to a much greater degree on development rather than supervision. The Library Act,however, will still remain the foundation of library-sector activities.

Overall responsibility for the Development Centre will lie with the Ministry of Cultural and Church Affairs which will ensure provision of a basic budget and regular financing for projects and development. The establishment of the new Development Centre takes place following consultation between the Ministry of Cultural and Church Affairs and the Ministry of Education and Research. Other government ministries may also make project and development funds available, either annually or on an ad hoc basis. The Development Centre will be governed by a board appointed by the Ministry of Church and Cultural Affairs in consultation with the Ministry of Education and Research and the Ministry of the Environment.

Translated by Eric Deverill

Sidsel Hindal

Norwegian Directorate for Public Libraries

(information mainly in Norwegian)

(information mainly in Norwegian)

Previous Nyhavn 31E • DK 1051 Copenhagen K • Denmark • splq AT Home

Adviser, Norwegian Archive, Library and Museum Authority
Internet: (information mainly in Norwegian)