Nordbok for the last time

Nordic Council of Ministers

Nordbok’s final meeting on the 10th November will mark the end of an initiative that has played a central role in Nordic cultural cooperation for more than three decades. Financial support towards translation work, one of Nordbok’s basic functions, was established as early as 1975 and the first Nordic public library committee began its work in 1982.

During these years the support provided by Nordbok has been instrumental in the translation of more than 4000 Nordic books into other Nordic languages. Together with the Nordic Council’s Prize for Literature this activity has contributed to a greater awareness of the literature of our Nordic neighbours throughout all the Nordic language communities. Although in many spheres the Nordic countries represent a relatively homogenous region, this is by no means true where language is concerned. Apart from the three Scandinavian languages, which are close to each other, the distance between the Nordic languages is in some cases considerable. Finnish, Sami and Greenlandic do not belong to the Indo-European family of languages, nor are Icelandic and Faroese understood by their Nordic neighbours. A mutual exchange of literature between the Nordic countries contributes to a greater understanding of each other’s culture and society.

The very basis of the Nordic community lies in the contact between the people who live there. From the earliest school age it is normal for children to meet children from their Nordic neighbours. As adults these contacts are further developed at many levels by means of associations, sport, daily work and politics. Official collaboration under the auspices of the Nordic Council and the Nordic Council of Ministers represents only a small part of overall Nordic cooperation, although their work does provide a basic framework for much of the informal and voluntary cooperation that takes place. Also at this level Nordbok has made a significant contribution.

By supporting courses, seminars and conferences Nordbok has helped authors, translators, librarians and others working in the cultural field to develop a Nordic network, broadening their knowledge and finding inspiration. Initiatives such as the Nordic Library Week and arranging for writers to visit libraries in other Nordic countries have also in their way served to strengthen the Nordic community.

Nordic literary and library cooperation will not come to an end when Nordbok no longer exists. New programmes of mutual benefit will be developed and fresh funding will replace the old. Society undergoes continual change and the measures we take to support our priorities and further our aims also need to be adjusted from time to time. On this occasion the Nordic ministries of culture have chosen to change both the structure of the area of initiative and the nature of the body set in place in order to administer the means available and to carry out agreed policies. I hope that the programmes designed to take over from Nordbok and the other similar Nordic committees will provide inspiration for newthinking and creativity in Nordic cultural cooperation. I trust that the new programmes will be well received and that those set to carry them out will be most successful in their work.

Translated by Eric Deverill

director, Nordbok.